In between Long Lake and Union Lake is one of our favorite man-made wonders: the Chi-Town Union Station. Located in Commerce Township, Michigan, this former grocery store has been transformed into a massive model train display. This hidden gem will keep children entertained for hours. 

Every holiday season, we love to visit Chi-Town. It’s a wonderful place to explore and rediscover a sense of childlike wonder. This small Michigan town boasts the world’s longest model train. With over 12,000 feet of track, there is no shortage of things to look at in the facility. 

History 

The trains at Chi-Town Union Station come from a private collection that outgrew its storage space in 1999. Once that happened, they purchased a 10,000 square foot building to be able to display the models effectively. Since the opening of the station, the community has worked hard to keep it open to the public. It’s been running strong for more than 14 seasons

The placement of the models mimics the layouts of five major United States railroads: New York Central; Baltimore and Ohio; Atchison, Topeka, and Sante Fe; Denver and Rio Grande Western; and Southern Pacific. These railroads all served Chicago in the mid-20th century. This era was the height of luxury passenger travel by train. As such, passenger trains are the type primarily featured at this location. 

The Setup 

Trains and tracks surround the exhibition space, immersing visitors in the hustle and bustle of Chicago Union Station in its heyday. The viewing aisle is 4-7 feet wide to allow everyone plenty of space to check out the trains and tracks of their choosing. A cyclorama decorated with breathtaking scenery surrounds the area, transporting all visitors to a new place entirely. 

At any one time, a computer may be operating upwards of 20 trains along the tracks. Volunteers manually operate even more. 

Besides the trains themselves, we love to strike up a conversation with the staff members. They have a wealth of knowledge about the fascinating world of model trains. If you’re like us and can’t get enough of model trains, then be sure to check out this place. 

Hours of Operation 

Open from November to March each year; these incredible trains are available for viewing on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays. The business hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are open on some extra days around the Christmas holiday, which is when we visit with our families, friends, and visitors from out of town. 

Discounts and Groups 

Chi-Town offers great group discounts. Groups of 35-60 people are eligible for a 25% discount when scheduling during regular business hours. Groups of 61 or more people can enjoy a 30% discount. 

Depending on staff availability, the facility can also accommodate large groups outside of the regular operating hours accompanied by a lesser discount than those described above. No group tours are available between April and September. Additional discounts may be available for students, seniors, and scouting groups. 

We hope you will consider visiting this magical place and learning about the history of trains while seeing these impressive models in action.

Commerce Township Resources