Historic train in Grand Haven targeted by vandals

Ottawa County

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of preservationists in Grand Haven says a historic train keeps being targeted by vandals.

The locomotive train, also known as the Pere Marquette 1223, is located at Chinook Pier. While the train has never operated in Grand Haven, local historians say it serves as a symbol of the long history the city has with the transportation industry.

The Pere Marquette 1223 was originally built in Lima, Ohio in 1941. After steam and diesel engines were created, the 1223 became obsolete.

The historic Pere Marquette 1223 in Grand Haven keeps getting vandalized, its preservers say. (Feb. 27, 2020)

In 1951, the train was moved to the state fairgrounds in Detroit. After sitting there for three decades, it was in a major state of disrepair.

The city of Grand Haven bought the train and restored it to the condition it’s in now.

“Its main purpose now is to be a reminder to the next generation what this area was and what it can be in the future,” said Matthew Braginton, who works with the Pere Marquette 1223 preservation committee.

Braginton is one of the preservationists who surveys the train weekly. He also has familial ties to the train’s history.

“My grandfather was one of the engineers that ran this train along with a lot of other people,” Braginton said.

Recently, the train has become a target for vandals. Braginton says the train has been spray-painted several times. Last week, someone also kicked in one of the caboose doors.

“As a part of my family’s heritage, it’s always disheartening to see that somebody doesn’t feel empathy toward others and just wants to destroy stuff,” Braginton added.

The preservationist group has since asked city police for more patrols in the area.

They say one of their main concerns is the danger the train can pose to people messing with the machinery without knowledge. They hope more people start to see the value of preserving history too.

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