Welcome to the Western Michigan Society for Industrial Heritage, PO Box 273, Coopersville, MI 49404 a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making wheelchair accessible recreation possible through historic railroading as well as the broader mission of Preservation, Renovation and Education of the equipment, tools and supporting structures that built Western Michigan.
As you read this, much of the early industrial equipment used to build West Michigan is rotting, rusting or being cut up and sold for scrap. The Industrial Heritage Society’s goal is to preserve this early heritage for the edification of future generations.
The Industrial Heritage Society is an off-shoot of the Coopersville and Marne Railway. The C&M is a family friendly, all volunteer, recreational railway and realized they would not be able to raise the funds necessary to renovate structures and rolling stock. Conversations among volunteers were overheard by the current presidents’ son, Ryan J. Byle. In June of 2000, on his own initiative, Ryan compiled all the volunteers’ dreams into a Future Plans document outlining the plans of the railway volunteers (click here for a MS Word® doc).
On May 19, 2001 tragedy struck. While helping his father prepare the train for an excursion outing, Ryan collapsed and died from an unknown heart dysfunction. This Society and its mission is now dedicated to the enthusiasm and initiative Ryan exhibited for the Society’s goals. Using Ryan’s Future Plans document as a mission statement, in March of 2001, principle members of the railway filed with the State of Michigan for incorporation of the non-profit entity as The Western Michigan Society for Industrial Heritage.
The Society held its organizational meeting 11 July 2001 and was formally recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity in an IRS letter of acknowledgment dated 13 June 2002. This status was verified and renewed 30 January 2007. Click here for a PDF version of these documents.
Wheelchair Accessible Recreation
The initial project being undertaken by the Society is the purchase and renovation of an ADA compliant, wheelchair accessible passenger coach that will be operated on the C&M Railway. This will make the C&M a wheelchair accessible recreation outlet for families. Future projects include the preservation of the Spring Lake, MI, Interurban railway depot. Please visit our Project Page to view additional information on and progress towards these goals.