Special event held at the Amtrak depot honors Jackson's connection to the anti-slavery movement

Contact: Michael Frezell, MDOT Office of Communications, 517-281-6519
Agency: Transportation

February 23 2021 -- A dedication ceremony was held at the Amtrak Jackson Depot today to honor the city's historic connection to the anti-slavery movement. Coinciding with Black History Month, the event included remarks from Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies; Maurice Imhoff, president of the Jackson County Michigan Historical Society; Linda Hass, local researcher; and Derrick James, Amtrak Government Affairs senior manager.

"Jackson's Amtrak station is being honored for its historical tie to the Underground Railroad," Imhoff said. "Although, the tracks transporting these freedom seekers were the tracks above the ground."

Local historian Linda Hass spoke about the important role Jackson railways played for two freedom seekers on two separate occasions and noted they were being pursued by men on horseback.

"The iron horse was faster than the flesh and blood horse," Hass said, "So, the train literally meant the difference between life and death."   

In operation at the time of the freedom seekers, the original Jackson depot has since been demolished and replaced by the current depot, which was opened to passengers by the Michigan Central Railroad on Sept. 1, 1873. It is one of the oldest continually operating rail stations in the United States and has been an active railroad location since the Michigan Central arrived in Jackson in 1841. Currently owned by Amtrak, the depot is served by the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac Amtrak Wolverine and is located on the Michigan Department of Transportation-owned Kalamazoo-to-Dearborn segment of the accelerated rail corridor. 

The historical society is a not-for-profit, private educational organization dedicated to perpetuating Jackson County’s history. For more information, go to JacksonHistorical.com      

Editors: A video news release about the Amtrak Jackson Depot dedication ceremony is available online at https://youtu.be/h9F7qTGtCQw.