Open Saturdays Noon- 4pm from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Not open Sept. & Oct.
Brief History: In the spring of 1887, the Buckley & Douglas Lumber Company of Manistee began building a railroad to transport logs from the forest to its sawmill in Manistee, and they named the railroad the Manistee & Northeastern. After the land was stripped of pine, the Manistee & Northeastern hired a land dealer to sell the "worthless" land and focused primarily on the Finns, because this area was so much like their native, heavily forested, Finland (before all the trees were cut down!). The town which resulted, and the streets, were named from the epic Finnish poem, the Kalevala.
In 1904 the depot burned down, along with all the stores on the main street. In 1908 the present depot was built. When the railroads quit running in Kaleva, in 1970, the village was able to save the depot from being torn down. (As that is what the railroads typically did when lines were no longer in service).
In 1996 the Service Learning class from Brethren High School restored the Depot and in the 1998 the Depot Railroad Museum opened to the public. Today, the RR Depot Museum houses many railroad artifacts, photos, and displays pertinent to the Kaleva Railroad Depot, as well as a scale model of the Depot with a model train circling it. Outdoors, visitors will see one of the last two Switch Engines to work in the Kaleva Rail yards (photo below). The “twin” to this engine, also recently restored, still serves in the Marquette Rail yard in Manistee.
For further details on the history of the Kaleva Depot, click here: The History of the Kaleva Railroad Depot by Charles Showalter, Manistee, MI.