Durand Railroad History
Durand's first settlers began farming here in 1837. Its first railroad, the Detroit and Milwaukee, arrived in 1856, thirty-one years before the village of Durand was officially organized. The settlement became a railroad center for the Grand Trunk and the Ann Arbor railroads. Trains passing through Durand ran to Toledo, Grand Rapids, Clare, Chicago, Port Huron and Detroit. Around the turn of the century, as many as thirty-five passenger trains, one hundred freight trains and three thousand passengers used the depot each day. Its yard facilities once included the only full-circle roundhouse on the Grand Trunk Western. In 1911 fifty percent of Durand's population was employed by the Grand Trunk Western Railway Company.
The Knights Templar Special
In June 1923, the sixty-seventh annual conclave of the Grand Commandery of Michigan Knights Templar was held in Flint. Western Michigan Sir Knights traveling to the Masonic convention commissioned a Grand Western Trunk special train. The train left on June 5. At 9:30 A. M. it came upon a split track at Clark's Crossing in Durand. The engine and tender left the rails and turned over. The second passenger coach rammed the first; however, the rear cars remained upright. Four Knights Templar died in the accident:
engineer Frank Persall and fireman Joseph Parker were members of Corunna Commandery No. 21 stationed at Durand; John Erickson and Herber D. Waldron were from Ionia Commandery No. 11. A. J. Fanning of Grand Rapids also died, and thirty-two persons were injured.