|Alden is about 20 miles northwest of Traverse City.
The town is named for William Alden Smith, general counsel of the Chicago
& West Michigan Railway, secretary of the Michigan Senate, and later,
Senator from Michigan.
In 1891 the Chicago and North Michigan Railroad Company
was formed by the Chicago & West Michigan RR, to build a railroad
north from Traverse City. This line, through Alden, was completed to Bay
View in 1892. Never really a separate railroad, the line was leased to the
C&WM in 1891, and sold to the C&WM in 1899. The C&WM was one
of the major parts of the Pere Marquette System, formed in 1900.
The Alden depot was built in 1908, when the route was part
of the Pere Marquette System. The design seems to be a PM standard, also
used in Greenville and Williamston.
Those two however, lacked the large covered waiting area found at
The depot is open as the Alden Depot Park and the Helena
Township Historical Museum. Both the freight room and the waiting room are
used for display space. But the depot itself is the real attraction. It is
one of the fancier designs built by the PM, is in great shape, and has an
outstanding paint job. The surrounding park has picnic areas, a playground
and a beach on Torch Lake.