With the construction of the County Road System, there was a marked improvement of the local roads. However, these were still dirt roads and in the spring when the frost came out, the roads could still become muddy messes. Every spring, the roads had to be graded and leveled.

In 1853, Frederick P. Currier Sr. opened the Currier Agricultural Works. It was a foundry which made farm implements. Raw materials were brought by wagon to the foundry over the dirt roads and finished products taken out. Wagons loaded with iron ore were heavy and damaged the roads. Currier designed a “road roller” to level and smooth the roads coming to and within Almont.

In 1869, Frederick Currier Sr. sold the company to his son, Henry Currier. He then partner with Uriel Townsend to buy the local bank (located at northeast corner of the four corners). After three years, they sold the bank to the Ferguson’s. They then went into buying wood lots. Their efforts were very profitable.

In the 1870s, Almont was a community undergoing economic changes. The logging and lumbering operations that had been a large portion of the township’s economy began to cease operations or move away. With the clearing of the land, farming became the major source of employment. The community’s only large scale employer was the Currier Agricultural Works.

In the early 1880s, Frederick P. Currier wished to lower his son’s shipping costs and shorten his delivery times. Henry was an engineer and patented several designs, which increased the desire for his products. Frederick provided financial support to Henry G. McMorran to get a narrow gauge (3 foot) rail line constructed from Port Huron through Memphis to Almont. In January 1882, the Port Huron & South Western Railway was formed. Construction began almost immediately and the first train ran on October 3, 1882. It was planned that the line would eventually be extended to Pontiac and then Detroit but nothing ever became of those plans. Construction of the rail line through Dryden prevented the extension. The PH&NW operated narrow gauge rail lines throughout Michigan’s thumb. The narrow gauge lines prevented competitors from constructing lines in the thumb.

The line ran from Port Huron to Kimball, Burns, Lamb, and Wales to Memphis. It continued to Doyle, Berville, Smiths (Allenton), and ended in Almont. The rail line ended in Almont on the west side of Van Dyke which is now Edward Murphy Memorial Park. The turntable was located west of Van Dyke and the Farnum Drain (now west of Edward Murphy Memorial Park).

The line was used both for passengers and freight. Freight from Almont consisted mainly of agricultural products (grains, beans, corn, and fruit) and the agricultural implements manufactured by the Currier Agricultural Works. The freight coming to Almont was coal, lumber, and materials for the Currier facility.

On April 1, 1889, the PH&NW was purchased by the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad (F&PM). In the 1890’s, the F&PM converted all of the narrow gauge lines north of Port Huron to standard gauge tracks (4 feet 8.5 inches), which left only the Almont line as narrow gauge. In May 1903, the Almont line was converted to standard gauge. This ushered in the most profitable time for the railroad.

In late 1913, Township and Village leaders partnered with the Detroit Urban Railway to extend the electric railway from Romeo to Almont. The line ran along Van Dyke until it got to the village. The tracks then moved west and ran up Cherry Street and then jogged back east over to Branch Street by the Old Town Hall and stopped. The electric railway was basically a passenger service but did occasionally add a freight car which was only for light-weight packages. The first train arrived on July 1, 1914, just in time to bring in passengers for the August Homecoming celebration. The next year the line was extended to Imlay City.

In 1919, a group of Almont businessmen; Charles D. Ferguson, James Wilder, R. K. Westcott, H. D. Bowman, Ralph Bishop, Robert Paten, and Captain L. Sawyer established the Almont Manufacturing Company. These men bought the former Currier Agricultural Works/R. E. Lee Foundry from the Cork brothers. The Almont businessmen’s purpose for the business was not to continue manufacturing farm implements and horse-drawn sleighs. They sold off the company’s entire inventory and reinvested the funds into changing the firms focus from agriculture to automotive. This drastically reduced the shipments on the Pere Marquette.

The combination of the development and paving of state highways and Henry Ford’s production of the Model T provided the DUR customers the means of going where they wanted, when they wanted. The shipments from Almont Manufacturing went by truck on Van Dyke.

In 1922 the State began paving Van Dyke in downtown Detroit. The pavement extended all the way to Port Austin. Almont’s Main Street was paved in 1924, which caused the Homecoming celebration to be moved to 1925.

In 1925, the DUR proposed ceasing operation of the Interurban line from Romeo to Almont and on to Imlay City. A hearing was held in Detroit to determine whether or not the DUR could close the line. At the end of DUR and Almont/Imlay City presentations, the judge asked each of the local representatives how they traveled from Almont and Imlay City to the meeting in Detroit. All of the locals answered that they drove or rode with someone who had driven to the meeting. The judge permitted the DUR to close the line. After trying to develop business to make the line profitable and failing, the DUR had the tracks and warehouses removed in 1929. Burley Park was created on the space where the warehouses once stood.

Freight service on the Pere Marquette tracks continued throughout the 1930s but the frequency was reduced until at the end of the decade, only one train a week was scheduled. The change in emphasis from agricultural business to automotive production by the Almont Manufacturing Company at the start of the 1920s also contributed to the lack of need for the railroad’s freight service. Finally on December 3, 1941, Pere Marquette filed the paperwork to abandon the line. The Interstate Commerce Commission approved the abandonment filing on December 12, 1941.

With the onset of World War II, the tracks were almost immediately removed. The railroad roadbed was also removed. Most of the path was plowed under and became part of farmer’s fields. Some sections were used as farm lanes or driveways. Some sections can still be seen as the tree lines between fields. All of the bridges were removed. The Almont depot was disassembled and the wood sold. Nick Liblong Sr. bought some of the wood and used it to construct his garage. The depot at Berville was moved to Allenton and is located south of the township hall on Capac Road.

In the mid-1960s, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) build the first section of the M-53 Freeway from 18 Mile to 28 Mile and completed it in 1968. During this time, the Township paved Dryden and General Squier Roads. The roads were paved to provide access from the proposed extension of M-53 to Almont.

MDOT personnel met with various township organizations about the extension of M-53. They were proposing four routes around Almont–two to the east and two to the west. MDOT expected to complete the extension to I-69 by 1975! Missed it by a little–49 years so far.

Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or jrwade49@ gmail.com or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.