This massive Romanesque style sandstone depot was built
by the Michigan Central Railroad in 1892. More than a shelter for local
customers, it was built to project an image of strength and security to the
patrons of the New York Central's "Niagara Falls Route", its first New York-
Chicago through route. Besides the depot itself, there were elaborate gardens
and even a greenhouse, maintained by the railroad to supply flowers for the
railroad's dining cars.
The Detroit architectural firm of Spier and Rohns designed
the Michigan Central's showpiece in Niles. It featured a waiting room , with
a fireplace, in the rounded west end , a smoking room in the center of the
building, and a dining room/lunch counter in the east end. A 44' x 25' wing,
streetside of the dining room, contained the kitchen on the first floor and
an apartment for the restaurant manager on the second floor. A small separate
building 50 feet toward the east was for baggage and express.
The track side facade is dominated by a massive gable end
and the soaring tower, a combination of elements that was such a success
that a few years later, it was repeated on
Church, in Windsor, Ontario, built in 1896.
The depots good looks have earned it appearances in at least
three movies, The Continental Divide, Midnight Run, and Only the Lonely.
In one scene of Only the Lonely, the Niles depot was decorated with Christmas
lights. This was the beginning of the tradition of
decorating the depot for