Christmas Trains in Michigan


Before highways and motorcars crisscrossed Michigan’s mitten, residents relied on trains for transportation. And the first railroad track in the state, the Erie and Kalamazoo line, opened in 1837—except it had a slight problem. People waited four months before the first locomotive engine arrived, so they had to board and ride horse-drawn cars along the track.

From that day until the turn of the 20
th century, railroads and interurban lines managed to serve residents very well. Times changed once Henry Ford introduced his gas-powered Model T automobile, and made it affordable for middle-class families to own one. Public transportation began dying slowly until streetcars no longer rolled through cities. Michigan still has almost 4,000 miles of railroad track, useful in moving goods long distances, besides trucks on the interstates.

Trains still transport crowds of people, especially during the holiday season. Not all people know that there are two sites in Michigan with holiday trains, offering the younger generation a taste of travel that their grandparents and great-grandparents would remember. The excitement of hearing the shrill whistle and ‘All aboard’ of the conductor, the steam rising from the engine, the rattle and sway of the train cars -- all this is guaranteed to make special memories for the holidays.

Here’s a few spots of fun sure to please your family. Call before you go, and make sure if you need to reserve your spots!

The Santa Train in Coopersville Coopersville_santa_train-400px

Meet Santa during the train journey in vintage cars! Every child will be escorted by Santa's Elves to sit and chat with Santa Claus, and receive a gift. The Polar Express, written by Grand Rapids native Chris Van Allsburg, will be read as well. The Santa Train runs on Saturdays and Sundays until December 23. Tickets: Adults $12.50, kids $10. Call 616-997-7000 for more info. Check the website at

Huckleberry Railroad, Crossroads Village, Flint

Crossroads Village operates holiday trains within the complex. You can purchase Village Only tickets as well. December weekends 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, 19-23 and 26-30 from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.  
Huckleberry Railroad Departures take place at 5:00 pm, 5:50 pm, 6:40 pm and 7:30 pm. Additional trains, if necessary, depart at 8:20 pm, 9:10 pm, and 10 pm. 
Crossroads Village is also open Mondays for a "Drive-Through ONLY" on December 3, 10, 17, and Christmas Eve, December 24 from 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm. $5.00 per vehicle (cannot accommodate buses)
Check the
Huckleberry Railroad website for more details.

(Meg Mims, December 2012)

Unless otherwise indicated, all Lake Effect Living photographs
are the work and property of Sharon Pisacreta.