PMHS and the Plymouth Historical Museum Announce Agreement to House PMHS Archives
PLYMOUTH, MICHIGAN, August 7, 2021—A major archival collection is coming to the Plymouth Historical Museum (PHM). An agreement signed on August 6, 2021, between PHM and the Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc. (PMHS) will bring the PMHS archive to the Museum.
The PMHS archive was established in 2001 with the donation of several PMHS archival collections from its membership. At that time a formal agreement was set up with the Joint Archives of Holland at Hope College. In 2003 the archive made its first major expansion with the donation of the Henry J. Walhout negative collection. The PMHS archive was vastly expanded in 2006 with the acquisition of Art Million's personal collection. The archive was then formally named the "Arthur B. Million Memorial Archive of the Pere Marquette Historical Society," following his death that year. Because of a variety of factors, the decision was made to remove the PMHS archive from the Joint Archives of Holland in 2011. It has remained in storage in various locations and somewhat dormant since that time, with limited accessibility to either researchers or the public. A renewed effort began in 2019 to find a permanent home for the archive, culminating in the agreement with PHM in August 2021.
“As someone who has been a member of the society since the very beginning and was fortunate enough to know several of the founders of the Society who have since died, it’s wonderful to know that we finally have a home for all the material they worked so hard to preserve,” said PHMS President Thomas J. Gaffney. “As we now move into our 26th year of existence, we can begin to look to a much more stable and rewarding future that not only encompasses the heritage of the Pere Marquette itself but encourages the preservation of material from the successor companies that continued to operate its former lines. The fact that we now have a home for that heritage in one of the most important crossroad communities that the Pere Marquette served is a huge win for everyone involved.”
PMHS was founded in 1995 as a means of collecting and disseminating information regarding the Pere Marquette Railroad. PMHS membership is made up of historians, former employees and their relatives, modelers, and railfans.
The Pere Marquette Railroad Company (PMRR) was formed in 1900 by the merger of numerous Michigan railroads, the most prominent of them being the Flint and Pere Marquette, the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Western, and the Chicago and West Michigan. During its existence, it came under the control of several other railroads at one time or another, including the Baltimore & Ohio and the Erie. Over the years, the Chesapeake & Ohio gained more and more control over the PMRR, until on June 6, 1947, the PMRR was formally merged into the Chesapeake & Ohio. The Pere Marquette operated over trackage stretching from Buffalo, New York, to Chicago, and from Bay View (Petoskey), Michigan, to Toledo, Ohio, with trackage in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Ontario. In addition to its strictly rail operations, the PMRR also operated railway car ferries on the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, and a fleet of car ferries from Ludington across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, Kewaunee and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Nearly all of the trackage CSX operates in Michigan today is former PMRR trackage.
“We are excited to welcome this wonderful addition to the PHM archive,” said PHM Executive Director Liz Kerstens. “Plymouth was a hub for PMRR as both north-south and east-west tracks crossed here. Once the collection is processed, researchers will be able to delve into the rich railroad history of Plymouth and Michigan.”
The Plymouth Historical Museum is located at 155 S. Main Street in Plymouth. Hours are 1-4 pm on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The PHM archive is currently available by appointment only on Saturday and Sunday. The PMHS archive will take time to process, so please call 734-455-8940 x3 before making the trip. For more information, visit http://plymouthhistory.org/our-history/collections-research/.