Daylight only. This cache is on the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail near the site of the station. Parking and access to the trail is from Bowen Station Park. Both the trail and the park are closed from sunset to sunrise.
The general location of this cache was known as Bowen Station and Crosby Post Office. According to a 1972 interview of his granddaughter, Frahms A. Bowen came from New York State in 1834, and purchased a farm at this site. In 1836 he received the deed to this property signed by President Andrew Jackson. In 1856 he donated the land for the first Bowen school (log) that was built near the corner of 44th Street (Bowen Road) and Kalamazoo Avenue. In 1869 or 1870, he reluctantly sold a right of way kitty corner across the Bowen farm, to the Grand River Valley Railroad. As part of the agreement, the railroad built a small station on the site, naming it Bowen Station. The Bowen family, and others, used the rail line extensively to travel to Grand Rapids and back, at a cost of thirteen cents. The small settlement had a post office (Crosby PO) from 1870 until it was discontinued sometime after 1909. Samuel Langdon was the postmaster in 1877. In 1907, the settlement had a population of 75. In addition to the Bowen Farm and post office, the village had a general store, blacksmith, feed mill, and a sawmill. Hay and apples were shipped from here.
General Store and Post Office at Crosby/Bowen Station.
Section crew at Crosby/Bowen Station, 44th and Kalamazoo.
Bowen Station/Crosby P.O. Plat, 1907
The Grand River Valley Railroad was one of the earlier railroad charters (1846) in Michigan. Its purpose was to connect Jackson with Grand Rapids. The charter languished for two decades before construction began. When it did, the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad (later Michigan Central Railroad) had connected Jackson with Lansing. The GRV built from Rives Junction, ten miles north of Jackson, reaching Eaton Rapids by July 4th, 1868, Charlotte by August 15th, 1868, Nashville by January 26th, 1869, Hastings by February 22nd, 1869 and finally Grand Rapids on January 1st, 1870.
On August 15th, 1870, the GRV was leased to the MC, followed a year later by the JL&S. In 1916, the MC merged both the GRV and JL&S into its system. The MC was controlled by the New York Central Railroad and on February 1st, 1930, the MC was merged into the NYC. On February 1st, 1968, the Penn Central was created primarily by the merger of the NYC and the Pennsylvania Railroad. To complete the story on the larger scale, Penn Central became part of Federal Government owned Conrail in 1976. Conrail was purchased by Norfolk Southern in 1999.
For decades, the New York Central ran daily passenger service over this line between Grand Rapids to Jackson and on to Detroit. By the 1950s, the automobile was putting a large dent in rail travel. The NYC reduced service to Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDC) that they called Beeliners. The last Beeliner ran in December, 1959.
Conrail abandoned the line between Eaton Rapids and Vermontville, except for a three mile section in Charlotte sold to the Grand Trunk Western. Conrail also abandoned the line from Vermontville to Caledonia in 1976, and turned the remainder of the line over to the State of Michigan. The state contracted with the Kent-Barry-Eaton Connecting Railroad to operate the line from Grand Rapids to Vermontville on July 15th, 1979. The KBEC had the distinction of being the first minority owned railroad in the country. That contract expired and the line from Vermontville to Bowen was abandoned by late 1983.
In 1999, the Charlotte Southern Railroad, owned by the Adrian & Blissfield Railroad, began operating a murder mystery dinner train on this short segment. The last portion of the line, from Grand Rapids to the former Steelcase plant is still in place but is not used southwest of Division Street.
The latest chapter in this line is its transformation to the Paul Henry Thornapple River Trail. The project is ongoing. Several segments are completed or under construction. The goal, once again, is to connect Grand Rapids and Jackson.