Monday, July 23, 2012

Crossroads Village

For some reason my expectations of this historic village to provide us with any interesting entertainment were fairly low.  The cost for a tour of the village, as well as a 40 minute railroad ride and a 40 minute paddlewheel riverboat ride, was less than twenty dollars per person.  Crossroads Village is under the auspices of the Genesee County Parks Department, which also raised a red flag in my mind (can any government  agency be successful in such an endeavor?).   Surprisingly, we had a wonderful afternoon at the village Sunday, and have every intention on returning some time soon to complete our tour of the village.  After purchasing our tickets we boarded a 1903 steam locomotive.  As it was a very warm day we chose to ride in one of its last cars which had open sides.  The 1920 year-old train car had been used as a fruit wagon to transport oranges in California.  Before the train left the track the conductor pointed out a large tank which supplied the water for the steam engine.  He commented that if any water is near wood it will not freeze.  Every winter a few railroad ties are thrown into the tank to keep the water from freezing.
Steam locomotives were used to transport passengers and freight from 1871 until the 1940s- I must say that after our train ride Sunday I sympathize with the passengers who depended on that mode of transportation.  Sooty particles blew into my eyes and the smoke billowing past our train car was also a bit unsettling!  Maybe it was worth the discomfort for the people of Flint and Fostoria in the early 1900s, as story has it that they traveled part way to pick huckleberies and were picked up on the return trip.  Back then it was called the Pere Marquette Railroad, however Crossroads Village has since labeled it the Huckleberry Railroad. 
Our train ride took us through forest, meadows and along Mott Lake.  In a tributary off the lake we saw a great blue heron sitting in the water.  After the train ride we had a small amount of time to check out some of the  historic homes of the village, many of them were built in the late 1800s and came from various surrounding localities in Michigan.  At the Masters' Cider Mill we watched thirstily as apples were pressed by machine and the resulting cider flow into waiting buckets. Unfortunately the juice was not pasteurized or filtered and had to be thrown out.  At the Horton-Colwell Building is a second floor opera house where we were entertained by Richard Paul the ventriloquist.  That building was air conditioned and gave us a break from the heat.  Before boarding the paddlewheeler Genesee Belle we stopped at the carousel building.  The carousel was built in 1912 in Leavenworth Kansas and came to the village in 1983.  A rare antique organ built in 1925 provides music for the carousel.  The boat ride provided us a cool and relaxing trip around Mott Lake before we headed for home. We certainly plan on returning to Crossroads Village!

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