Historical railroad photos wanted for Berrien County bookPublished 8:47am Monday, April 19, 2010
The History Center at Courthouse Square in Berrien Springs is seeking photographs for an upcoming pictorial history book about Berrien County railroads.
Tentatively titled “Locomotives on the Lakeshore: Railroads of Berrien County,” the book will feature text and photographs documenting the area’s railroad history. Anyone willing to allow the History Center to use their photographs can contact museum curator Robert Myers at (269) 471-1202.
The History Center has already scanned dozens of photographs from its own collections. Other images are still needed, however, including pictures of trains, depots and railroad crewmen. Photographs from private collections are welcomed and would be scanned and returned to their owners. Lenders will receive a photo credit in the book for each picture used.
The new publication will explore the history of Berrien County’s steam railroads, from the Michigan Central Railroad’s arrival in Niles 1848 to the decline of rail passenger transportation in the late 20th century.
During the railroads‚ golden age in the 1910s-1920s, train tracks reached nearly every village and city in Berrien County. Towns lived – and sometimes died – by their rail connections, and city fathers often went to extremes to secure railroad service for their towns.
Some of Berrien County’s railroads, like the Michigan Central, numbered among the largest in the nation. Others, like the St. Joseph Valley Railway between Berrien Springs and Buchanan, sputtered along on the verge of bankruptcy. The new book will provide a brief history of each of these rail lines and examine their impact on southwest Michigan’s growth and development.
For more information about “Locomotives on the Lakeshore,” contact The History Center at Courthouse Square at (269) 471-1202.