Durand Now photo
What do the Grand Trunk Railway, the Durand Roundhouse & the Titanic have in common? The Railroad Exhibit in the Pullman Baggage Car in Iron Horse Park, during Durand Railroad Days on May 20th and 21st, 2017 will answer this question.
Brought to you by the National Railroad Memorial, Inc. (NRMI), the Exhibit will showcase the historical connection between The Grand Trunk Railway, The Durand Roundhouse and the Titanic. Durand’s connection to the Titanic was researched and told by Dallas Brownson in 2003 and the exhibit this year is inspired by the current exhibit at the Sloan Museum in Flint.
Now through May 21, 2017, you can experience “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” at the Sloan Museum in Flint where real objects help tell the story of the Titanic. Then you can come to Iron Horse Park during Railroad Days in Durand and learn about the compelling story of Charles M. Hays, General Manager and subsequently at the time of his death, President of the Grand Trunk Railway, our local connection to the Titanic. Mr. Hays is one of the railroad men who played an important role in cementing Durand’s place in history as an important railroading hub of the 1900’s. His story is a part of the Wyllie Project, an initiative of NRMI to preserve and honor the stories of the men and women of the Railroad Industry.
From 2002 to 2005, Dallas Brownson, co-founder and late President of NRMI, served not only on the Board of Directors at Durand Union Station but reopened the Henry Riggs Library and Margaret Zdunic Archives (closed after the death of Margaret Zdunic) serving as the volunteer Archivist for three years.
In 2003, he discovered Durand’s connection to the Titanic and shared Mr. Hays’ story. These history connections and the story of Charles Hays are the centerpiece of the events sponsored by NRMI during Durand Railroad Days.
As the community is well aware, the Pullman GTW Baggage Car was home to the Durand Railroad History Museum opened in 1976 during Durand’s early Railroad Days. The Durand Area Bicentennial Commission with the help of private citizens, businesses, various organizations and the City of Durand had purchased the car from the Grand Trunk Western, relocated the car to Iron Horse Park, and refurbished it as our local museum celebrating Durand’s Railroad heritage. Although the contents of the museum were moved to the Depot when the City acquired the building and began the process of restoration, the Baggage car, long abandoned, now showcases Durand’s Rail Heritage once again each year during Railroad Days.
All events in Iron Horse Park during Railroad Days are sponsored by NRMI, and open to the public at no charge. Donations will be gratefully accepted and are specifically used to renovate, restore and preserve the railroad treasures center stage in Iron Horse Park including the 5632 GTW steam locomotive, the 1919 Pullman baggage car purchased from Grand Trunk Western, and Durand’s own 1912 GTW Gate Tower.
Together with the City of Durand, the Grand Trunk Western Historical Society and NRMI are raising the funds and have volunteered to fix, repair and refresh Engine #5632. NRMI has already raised the funds from the first two years of Iron Horse Park events during Railroad Days to repair, paint and restore the Grand Trunk Gate Tower. The Pullman Baggage car is in serious peril as the sides are rusting from the inside out due to potential long term leaks from the roof. The stabilization plan and efforts to save the Baggage car are in the planning stages, and will require significant money to stabilize and restore the car.
Come join us in Iron Horse Park to celebrate Durand’s railroad heritage and to learn how you can help be a part of restoring Durand’s Railroad treasures.
The National Railroad Memorial, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation organized as a 501 (C) (3). Our mission is to honor the men and women of the railroad industry by educating the public as to the importance of their roles in our nation’s past, present, and future. NRMI is partnering with the City of Durand to honor these individuals by building the National Railroad Memorial as the center piece of Diamond District Park, downtown Durand.