Remember When …

Photo courtesy of the Burton Area Historical Society

Photo courtesy of the Burton Area Historical Society

Now that we have learned about different types of transportation in Michigan, from horse drawn wagons, to farming equipment, to stagecoaches and trains, all of them were used to bring pioneers across the vast land of America.

Genesee County is not on the Great Lakes, so there were no ships that came to our town, but our water ways were used for commerce such as logging. People were looking for ways to make life easier and to use machine power, so inventions were made.

The first steam power engine was built in 1698 by Thomas Savery, for a water pump used in mining and it wasn’t until 1930 for America’s first steam powered locomotive. Wooden railroads, called Wagonways, were built in 1720s in the United States and by the 1869 the first Transcontinental Railroad was completed.

Trains were very important in business growing across America. People were settling just fine, but for towns to grow, families needed supplies and mail brought in faster. Trains were safer than stagecoaches and could bring more at one time, so cities grew fast.



Like Clio, Davison, Flushing, Grand Blanc, Gaines, Swartz Creek and Burton Township had a roundabout by AC (and others) became cities because of the train depot. In Durand, we have the Michigan Railroad History Museum and Durand Union Station, has been the hub of the state, since it was international and had their own roundabout.

Flint has always had a depot (it moved from 14th Street) and Amtrak leaves from there every morning to Chicago, have you ever taken a ride on the train? My first ride on the Amtrak was in 1977 after graduating high school and went out west with my sister that was great. It reminds you of the movie “White Christmas.”

I love to ride the train in large cities like Chicago or New York (or other countries) I think it’s cheaper. Downtown Flint used to have cable cars, have you seen photos of the wires on Saginaw Street before 1936? They took the cables tracks out and laid 750,000 bricks that year to restore all the old bricks originally placed there in 1898 were made of wood.

The bricks on our main street are historic and Flint will always be known for them. So “Remember Back to the Bricks!”

Remember When is a weekly column in the Burton View featuring historical stories about the community from the Burton Area Historical Society. If you have some Burton history to share, email History.