STURGIS, Mich. (June 24, 2014) — One of the oldest train depots in West Michigan is about to have a new resting place…literally! The depot, built in 1895, is being moved this week (beginning Wednesday night and continuing Thursday morning) to its new location on the west end of town about one-quarter mile away.
The project cost is more than $250,000 and was all raised in donations. The purpose of the move is to remove the historic depot from a back street and place it in a more prominent location. It will eventually be turned in a museum and be used as an educational tool for students.
The move is being conducted by Wolfe House and Building Movers. The company is well-known in the Midwest and on the East Coast for moving houses, buildings, and raising structures to replace damaged foundations. They also raise structures (like houses) in flood plain areas in order to heighten the foundation for safety/flood reasons.
Wolfe Movers typically relocates about 500 buildings each year. In fact, they have each move down to a science. To start, excavating is done around the foundation to remove the dirt. Next, long steel beams are put through the foundation which is how the building will be lifted. Solid oak blocks (used for cribbing) are placed under the structure in the basement area and shimmed accordingly. An automatic hydraulic jacking system will lift the building exactly at the same time in every location on to large dollies with wheels.
The 250 to 300 ton depot (350 tons including the equipment) will then roll down the street to its new location. It will take about four to six hours to complete the move. Once there, it will be placed on a new foundation and be permanently affixed.
Representative from Wolfe say the move will begin on Wednesday night taking the building down the railroad tracks, then resume at 8 AM Thursday morning down the middle of town. It will likely be a fabulous thing to watch! The enormousness of the building, the huge dollies and wheels, and the need to lift traffic signals and temporarily move other things in order to accommodate the monstrosity down the street will make for quite the spectacle!
Up until recently the depot housed the Chamber of Commerce office. It’s under the direction and responsibility of the Sturgis Historical Society. If you’d like more information on the Sturgis Historic Train Depot click here. Get more information on Wolfe House and Building Movers here. Information on the city of Sturgis can be found here.