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Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this beautiful train depot was built in 1892 by the Michigan Central Railroad. It has remained largely unaltered and is still used today by Amtrak as a passenger depot. It was designed in the Romanesque style by architects Spier and Rohns, who used large Ohio brownstones to build the station. Originally, there were gardens (and greenhouses where the flowers grew) but these were removed in the mid-1930s. There also used to a be a restaurant. The depot has appeared in three movies: "Continental Divide," "Midnight Run," and "Only the Lonely."


  • Niles Station was built in 1892 in anticipation of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. The city was the last major stop before Chicago and the railroad wanted to impress travelers with a grand depot.

Michigan Central was one of three state-owned railroads established in 1837. Its line was originally intended to run from Detroit to St. Joseph. It only reached as far as Kalamazoo, however, because the state ran out of money. The railroad was sold to a new group of investors who decided to change the terminus from St. Joseph to New Buffalo. As a result, the new route would now go through Niles. It reached the city in 1848 and to New Buffalo in 1849. The last leg to Chicago was finished in 1852. 

Upon learning of the upcoming Chicago World's Fair (1893), railroad officials decided that Niles, which was the last major stop before Chicago, needed a grand station to impress east coast travelers and take advantage of the excitement around the fair. This is why the Niles depot was built. 

Additionally, to give the depot even more flair, the gardens were included in the plan. To this end, the railroad hired German immigrant John Gipner, who learned gardening in Germany. The depot soon earned a reputation for being the most beautiful station between Buffalo and Chicago, and the city was dubbed "the garden city." Gipner even handed out flowers to women passengers.

The New York Central bought the Michigan Central in 1935 and tore down the greenhouses and did not maintain the gardens. The empty field next to the station is where they were located.

Dahl, John C. "Niles, Michigan." Train Web. July 31, 2002.  http://www.trainweb.org/rshs/GRS%20-%20Niles,%20MI.htm.

Higinbotham, Thomas. "Michigan Central Station (Niles)." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. September 19, 1979.  https://catalog.archives.gov/OpaAPI/media/25338954/content/electronic-records/rg-079/NPS_MI/09000085.pdf.

"Niles, MI (NLS)." The Great American Stations. Accessed December 7, 2018.  http://www.greatamericanstations.com/stations/niles-mi-nls.

Photo: Train Web