LACOTA, MI
Lacota, MI Depot; June 2004
Lacota, MI Depot, at Michigan Flywheelers Museum, June 2004

The KALAMAZOO AND SOUTH HAVEN RAILROAD COMPANY was incorporated April 15, 1869. The road was completed January 2, 1871 and operated under perpetual agreement, dated July 1, 1870, by which The Michigan Central Railroad Company maintains the road, pays all expenses, and receives all revenues. Lacota was a station on this line, a few miles east of South Haven.

At one time, this was a fairly busy passenger route. The 1902 MC timetable shows four daily passenger trains, and two daily mixed trains serving Lacota, except on Sunday when there was only one train each way. Passenger service lasted until July 1, 1937, but by then service had been downgraded to a single mixed train each way.

The Lacota Depot likely dates back to the time that the railroad was first built. It has a waiting room on one end, the agent's office in the center, and a freight room on the other end. Tracks have been removed. The right-of-way is now the Kal-Haven bike trail. But don't look for the depot along the bike trail; It has been moved twice.

Freight Room End
Street Side, 1998

Waiting Room End
Waiting Room, at Phoenix Road location, May 1998

At some time, the Lacota Depot was moved a few miles south, to Phoenix Road, for use as a commercial building. For several years the depot served as the retail outlet for Gould Farms. The floor of the freight room, originally at the height of a loading dock, was lowered to match the level of the waiting room and office. Also, the wall between the agent's office and the freight room was removed. Through the late 1990's the building sat vacant, but in fairly good shape.

Gould Farms was sold. The new owners built a racetrack, GingerMan Raceway. They had no use for the depot and so donated it to the Michigan Flyhwheelers Museum. For two years, the museum worked on fundraising, to move the depot to their site which is three miles east of South Haven, on 68 th Street, just south of Phoenix Road. Having reached their goal, the Flywheelers Museum hired a contractor, and the depot was moved on June 26, 2003.

The depot was placed on a new foundation. Plans called for the depot to be restored, and set up to look like a working depot. The freight room was to be used for the fund-raiser flea markets.

Lacota depot on its way to museum site
Lacota depot moving to museum grounds

Waiting Room Interior
Restored Waiting Room Interior, with original trim and beadboard walls

Waiting Room Interior
Restored Waiting Room Interior, June 2004

During 2003 and 2004, museum volunteers made great progress on restoring the waiting room. Fund raising continued for a new roof.

On Sunday, March 20, 2005, the depot was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours. The state fire marshall determined that it was arson. The depot was completely destroyed - all that was left was burnt beams and square shaped nails.

There was some talk of having a replica depot built, but as of August 2005, there were no definite plans.

Lacota depot after the fire, March 2005
Lacota depot after the fire, March 2005

Old Postcadr View of Lacota's Depot

August 1998, Updated August 2005
Louis Van Winkle
E-mail questions or comments to louisvw@mc.net

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