The Howell Area Historical Society is celebrating 50 years and is hoping the community will visit during upcoming exhibits and events.

The Historical Society owns and operates the Howell Depot Museum on Wetmore Street, which it bought from the Ann Arbor Railroad in 1970. Volunteers repainted rooms inside the museum over the winter and did other work ahead of its busier season. The Society has been trying to rotate displays and exhibits more often. The current feature is the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, which Society President Rudy Rudolph says claimed far more lives than WWI and the old Howell sanatorium played a vital role in. The museum is open from spring through fall, but is also open on Sundays from 10am to 2pm during the Howell Farmers Market from May through October. Rudolph tells WHMI they’re working to make the public more aware of Howell’s rich history, as well as that of the Train Depot, which he considers a hidden gem that also played a vital part in two world wars.

Rudolph says they have a large project they’re preparing to unveil as they’ve been restoring the 1888 Grand Trunk Western Caboose that sits outside next to the Depot. He says they’ve been working on that for several years and will unveil on June 23rd during this year’s Michigan Challenge Balloonfest. He says they would love people to come by and see the train on the tracks, just like in the olden days. The museum will also be open during the Howell Melonfest in August for the popular steam train rides. Rudolph says Melonfest is their biggest event of the year when people can ride the 1225 Steam Locomotive from the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso.

The Howell Area Historical Society will be hosting a small yard sale during the Downtown Food Truck Rally on May 19th, which will take place in the parking lot right next to the Depot. The Depot is in need of a new furnace and funds raised will go toward that goal. Anyone with things to donate can do so between 5 and 7pm on Friday the 18th or before noon on Saturday the 19th.

Rudolph says they’re a small but dedicated group and always looking for new members with an interest in local history. Anyone interested can email or contact the museum at 517-548-6876. A link to the website is provided. (JM)