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Hub of commerce


Capac's train depot an official historical site



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September 27, 2017
CAPAC — The signature green sign with gold lettering is official. On Saturday, the community gathered at the Capac Depot to dedicate its new Michigan Historical Marker.

The new sign commemorates Capac's history as a railroad town and honors the last depot which now serves as the home of the Capac Museum.

"In the 1950s and 60s, this was the main depot between Durand and Port Huron," Historical Society President John Grzyb said during the ceremony.

"A lot of stuff was shipped through here. This depot was a hub of commerce for western St. Clair County and even eastern Lapeer County."

Bills of lading from the 30s and 40s show that items being shipped to Capac included everything from altar wine for a local church to barbed wire and other farm supplies and equipment.

Items going out on rail cars included corn, wheat, cattle, sugar beets and peat.

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Original blueprints for the 1914 depot hang inside the building that's now home to the Capac Museum. photo by Maria Brown.

Grzyb said the rail station was the starting point for speciality items made in Capac like the plastic army helmets. From Capac, the helmets were bound for California, eventually en route to soldiers in the Pacific Theater.

After Saturday's dedication, historical society members enjoyed a social hour, potluck dinner and live music.

Last year, the Michigan Historical Commission determined that the depot qualified for the marker and earlier this year the historical society reached its fundraising goal of $5,000 to purchase, ship and install the monument.

The depot's marker is the newest of nearly 40 official markers in St. Clair County and the third depot in the Tri-City area to have the trademark sign. Imlay City's Grand Trunk Depot received their marker in 2006 and the Dryden Depot on Main Street has had one since 1985.

The only other marker in the Capac area was erected at the Almont Society of the New Church at Cameron and Tubsprings roads in Berlin Twp. in 2000.

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Soon, the Capac Depot marker should appear on a new online, interactive map recently unveiled by the Michigan History Center, www.michigan.gov/markers.

"We hope this historical marker database will pique the curiosity of Michiganders, help Michigan travelers better connect to the communities they visit, and inspire everyone to keep learning more about the real stories that make up Michigan's fascinating past," said Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center, an agency within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources that manages the marker program. The Michigan Historical Commission approves the markers and their final texts.

Michigan's historical marker program is among the nation's oldest. Since it was authorized by the Legislature in 1955, the program has approved and placed more than 1,700 markers throughout the state, as well as in several other states.

"Michigan Historical Markers capture the stories of our state's significant places, events and people in and around the locations where they happened or lived," Clark said.

She notes that Michigan's earliest markers focused on European settlement, geology, geography, Native peoples and military conflicts, but, as the program grew, it began to commemorate historically significant architecture, the contributions of individuals, and other milestones.

"There's something fitting, and exciting, about using the latest technology to help share the pieces of our past, making these important stories more accessible to more people," said Clark. "As information is added or updated, it will be right at users' fingertips —we're putting history in your hands."

For more information, visit the historical marker website at www.michigan.gov/markers.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she and her family reside in the Capac area where she enjoys gardening and reading.
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