Augusta is located close to the eastern border of Kalamazoo County, about half way between the cities of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.
This is an interesting depot that has been very well preserved, although it was been removed from the railroad tracks that still carry passenger and freight trains. It is now sited in an appealing but small city park at the side of the major street.. The Michigan Central Railroad, while still controlled by the State of Michigan, built west from Detroit starting in 1837. Their progress was very slow because the endeavor lacked capital. The line reached Augusta in 1845. After the state sold their interest in the railroad, the line reached Chicago in 1852.
I have seen comments that the depot you see pictured above was built by the Michigan Central in 1852. That is possible. It is a simple board structure, probably not a building designed by an architect. By the end of the 19th century, you might expect to see the slightly more expensive and more attractive board and batten style applied to many small railroad buildings such as this one. It is possible, however, that this depot was constructed in about 1880. Sanborn maps for 1873 and 1892 show two different locations for the Michigan Central passenger depot in Augusta. They are both north of the rail line close to where Fayette Street approached the railroad, but are about 100 yards apart. It is possible that an original depot from 1852 was just moved a short distance to serve as the depot that appears on more recent Sanborn maps. As the Michigan Central Railroad prospered in the final decades of the Nineteenth Century, they built impressive architect-designed depots in small towns along their main line, including Three Oaks, Chelsea and Dexter. Apparently, Augusta did not merit such a depot.
If this depot was constructed in 1852, it would likely be the second oldest surviving depot in Michigan. There is one in Coldwater—built for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern in 1850—that is probably the oldest surviving station.
The Penn Central Railroad, in 1976, sold this depot for $1 to the group organizing the Augusta Depot Museum. That organization moved it about one-quarter mile to its present location.
Augusta was served primarily by the Michigan Central Railroad that was subsumed into the New York Central beginning in the 1870s and fully accomplished in the 1920s. It was also served by the Detroit. Toledo. & Milwaukee—a failed adventure that built 91 miles of unprofitable rail from Dundee, Michigan to Allegan, Michigan. The D. T. & M. did not use the Michigan Central depot. Apparently they had their own depot one mile or so north of the Michigan Central depot. For a few years early in the last century, the Michigan Central controlled the D. T. & M., but then sold it. The section through Augusta was converted into an interurban line from Battle Creek to Allegan and Grand Rapids that went out of business in 1928.
Date of Construction: Uncertain
Architect: Unknown, maybe there was no architect
Use in 2011: Augusta Depot Museum
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
National Register of Historic Places: Not listed
Photograph: Ren Farley; November 6, 2011
Description prepared: November, 2011
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