Van Buren Township

Current Display


Adults – $2.00
Students – $1.00 (5-17)

The Wabash Depot

Old_Depot_smallIn July of 1881, the Wabash Railroad ran its first train through Van Buren Township, and a depot was erected on Sumpter Road. From this time on the little village of Belleville became the commercial center of the township as hotels and shops grew up to serve the thriving railroad traffic. For many years, everything from mail to coffins arrived by rail, and convenient passenger service was available on both morning and afternoon trains. As auto and truck travel came to dominate the local economy, train service to Belleville stopped. The depot was torn down in 1968.

A small replica of the former Wabash Depot has recently been constructed on the second floor of the museum by volunteers Fred Hudson, Don Keene, Bob Anderson, and Neil Griffin. It displays a collection of railroad memorabilia including telegraph equipment, Wabash Railroad records, and the pocket watch which belonged to station agent Otto Fielder.

1860 Wayne County Map

Depot_Pict_smallNow prominently framed and on display in the museum is a five-by-five foot 1860 map of Wayne County. Manufactured in Philadelphia, the vintage map shows the city of Detroit as well as all the rural townships which were in existence at the time.

A treasure trove of historical information, the map also shows the locations of area farms and the names of those who owned them. It also contains several small inset maps, including one of the village of Belleville, as well as business directories listing area farmers including several in Van Buren Township.

The 1860 Wayne County map was donated several years ago to the Belleville Area Museum by former Belleville mayor, the late Justin Emerson.