Hidden away in a forest along Gratiot that’s almost deep enough to make you forget you’re in the inner city lies a small, crumbling depot that once served as a transfer station between Detroit United Railway’s interurban trolleys and city buses. It’s an interesting place to visit as the city executes its re-imagining of the electric rail in modern day transit, while airplanes descend loudly toward the airport above the deteriorating roof.
Although the construction of a brand-new rail system will keep local traffic avoiding Woodward along our daily commutes until 2017, Detroit is no stranger to trolleys. Once upon a time, we were home to the region’s largest high-speed electric rail line, which connected not just the furthest extremes of Detroit, but also nearby cities. A one way fare could take you 600 miles, at its peak.
Though the transit system has come full circle, the existing rails of this era were dismantled over half a century ago. The Gary terminal’s enormously outstretched eaves have rotted away, and very little is left of the central vertical structure. So much of the front wall has fallen apart that only a single arched window remains of the charismatic set.
I did find a little piece of treasure here, which I sewed to my camera bag like an adventuring merit badge.