Friends of Coopersville and Marne Railway Company
What to expect on the train…
Ever wonder how people traveled around West Michigan before the automobile? One way was the railroad. Experience a little time travel on the Friends of Coopersville and Marne Railway. Our vintage train travels between the City of Coopersville and the Village of Marne, following 7 miles of track originally built in 1858. We don’t go very fast, but that’s the whole point. Sit back, relax and enjoy a bygone era of travel. We offer much more than just a train ride. On most trains, musicians and actors get passengers involved in the fun during our 90-minute trip back in time. Everyone is guaranteed to have a smile on their face at the end of their journey. Generations of families have enjoyed our special event trains for the past 35 years. All aboard!
The Friends of the Coopersville and Marne Railway is a 501-C Nonprofit Corporation operated by volunteers preserving and operating historic passenger and freight trains in West Michigan. The Coopersville & Marne Railway Company, a for profit corporation, was incorporated on July 13, 1989. It was created to preserve the track between Coopersville and Marne. Later on, our railroad purchased the rest of the track from Marne into Grand Rapids.
Our line has a long history. It was chartered as the Oakland and Ottawa Railroad Company on April 3, 1848. The railroad was merged with the Detroit and Pontiac Railroad Company in 1855, and the name was changed to the Detroit and Milwaukee Railroad. The track through Marne and Coopersville was first laid down in the summer of 1858. The first train into Grand Rapids arrived there in June of 1858, with the first train into Grand Haven arriving in September of the same year.
In May of 1928, our track became part of the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company. In 1987 the Central Michigan Railway Company purchased the line.
Three of our coaches originally were commuter cars, two from the East Coast (DL&W), and one from the Canadian National Railroad. The coaches are heated in the cold weather. The coaches are equipped with restrooms for passenger convenience. There are also restrooms in our station.
Our train is pulled by a 1950’s era 125 ton General Motors SW9 switcher locomotive, #7014. This locomotive was originally owned by the Grand Trunk Western Railway and served in Battle Creek, Michigan. The 1,200 horsepower diesel engine turns a generator, which feeds electricity to the traction motors, driving the wheels.
As you look around our property in downtown Coopersville, you will see other equipment and historic buildings. We have a GE 50-ton, center cab which we use as backup locomotive and in-yard movements. Other non-working diesel locomotives are lined up on one of our sidings as well as our ex-CN, 1912 Baldwin Steam Locomotive. Other equipment on site is used for ongoing track maintenance or historic preservation. We have an ex-Interurban station that was moved to its present location from Spring Lake, MI. We also have a watchman’s shanty that used to be in Grand Rapids, MI. Our train station is located at 306 E. Main Street Coopersville, MI 49404.
We hope that if you are in the area, you’ll stop by and ride with us.