Depot Museum eligible for national recognition

By Don Wiertella

The Depot Museum in the Vicksburg Historic Village appears to be eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, the Vicksburg Historical Society (VHS) has learned.

The notification came from Nathan Nietering, project coordinator for the Michigan State Historical Preservation Office.

A three-step process is required for the Depot Museum, historically known at the Vicksburg Union Depot, to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Step one was submittal, in late 2022, of a National Register preliminary questionnaire to the office in Lansing. The office has confirmed receipt of the questionnaire and encouraged the society to complete the second step in this process.

The next step: submittal of a National Register of Historic Places Registration Form to the state office. This document requires greater detail of the Depot Museum, including a narrative description of the building’s history and railroad operations during the Depot’s service life and its historical connection with the greater Vicksburg community.

Step three involves the review and approval of the registration form by the office in Lansing. Once approved, the registration form is submitted to the National Park Service for its review and approval to place the depot on the National Register.

The transmittal letter from Nietering to the Historical Society included several encouraging statements. Nietering noted that the station is a “locally significant example of a railroad station in the village of Vicksburg which clearly benefitted from not just one, but two railroads intersecting in the community.” In addition, Nietering said, it appears to be eligible under another criterion “in the area of architecture as a higher-style example of a small-town ‘union’ station facility.“

Properties listed on the National Register may be eligible for historic preservation tax credits, grants or funding programs to promote and facilitate historic tourism.

The Vicksburg Village Council approved the registration process in 2022 with the understanding that placing the Depot Museum on the National won’t place any financial burden on the Village. The Vicksburg Historical Society will be responsible for all costs incurred in the process.

“Union station” refers to a rail station which serves two or more railroads.

The first rail line through Vicksburg, from Grand Rapids into Indiana, was planned in the 1840s with a land grant to the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway. It was completed to Fort Wayne, Indiana, through Vicksburg, in 1870. Two years later, the Peninsular Railroad, later to become the Grand Trunk and Western, pushed an east-west line through Vicksburg. Passenger service on both tracks ended in the 1970s.

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