Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Train Lives On!

I have just learned the train is now on display at the Grand Rapids Public Museum! It was donated to the museum in 2000 and will be on display Nov. 22 thru Jan 4. The train now belongs to the museum and will be preserved there.

This document has lots of interesting information about the train.

Perhaps one day it will run again. It would complement the carousel nicely!

Here is the Museum's website. I did not find anything on the train there.

Many thanks to Kristy Harrington, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist for the Public Museum, for sharing this information with me!


Anonymous said...

If you go to the home page of the gr museum website and click on blog you will see a photo and iformation on the herp's train.

Anonymous said...

The Herps you write about near Campeau Square was built from (approx) late 1947 to opening in 1948 or early 1949. The construction started on a really cold winter day and the steam shovel(it was diesel powered) took a long time to break through the frozen earth. The earlier store was down Monroe and was subsequently occupied by Wurzburgs Department Store which at the time had just been acquired by Sperry and Hutchinson (the Green Stamp company). Herps was owned at the time by Allied Department Stores which operated various stores including Joskeys in San Antonio, a store in Muskegan and a store in Jackson plus other stores in the East. The story was that the Herpolsheimer Family (I think Mr. Herpolsheimer-who was well liked and respected-had passed away before the new store was ever contemplated) and Allied Stores could not come to agreement regarding the up coming lease so Allied walked away from the more central location at the time to build the new store. Some of my facts re dates and streets are a little hazy as I left Grand Rapids in mid 1951 at the age of 11 and never returned. Mrs. Ford ran the style show at Herps at the earlier store, i.e. the Wurzburgs store. If you haven't done so you may wish to read her book as she speaks about her work at Herps. I don't recall the name Herpolsheimers ever being changed to "Herps" but I do remember that in everyday usage it was frequently referred to as Herps and the slogan was "Western Michigan's greatest store". At some point that was changed to "Western Michigan's great store". Those slogans were used on the radio WOOD-am and in the Grand Rapids Press (the evening newspaper-still in operation although I don't know if it is still an evening paper) and the Grand Rapids Herold (the morning paper which I think is no longer in existence). I was once told that the editor of the Herold before Louis A. Weil Jr. (Chip's dad) was the great wartime U.S. senator Arthur Vandenburg. You may remember his... "Politics stop at the water's edge." admonition during WW II. Both papers were within about a 100 yards of Herps when I was in Grand Rapids. With respect to the physical plant the store had escalators (a new idea and was air conditioned (another new idea). Herps had its own delivery service and its own fleet to trucks which were manned by Teamsters Union members.I hope the above is helpful to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi. My name is David Winick. I'm a designer living in GR. I am restoring 'Santa's Rocket Express' along with Thom Gohl. We are working with the GR Public Museum. I grew up in GR and have fond memories of riding the train. We are looking forward to restoring the train to it's original configuration. It will be on seasonal display after.
I have a page devoted to the train on Facebook. Just do a search and you'll find it. Has over 450 members in just five days.

Robert Gillespie said...

Thanks for the information! I could not find the Facebook page. I tried many different search terms. Please post the name of the page!

Thank you....Robert

Anonymous said...

I also recall riding the mono-rail. I believe only once. I was about 7 so the year would be 1972 and I believe it was in the "rocket ship" configuration. I recall the ride above the toy department & looking for my Mom to wave from below. It was a thrill and remains a great memory. I believe we also paid a visit to Santa during the shopping trip. It's great to know the train is still around and is being restored for a display. I look forward to seeing it.

Kathy C said...

Hi All, I too remember (along with my 3 Brothers) the Herpolsheimer's Train. Stories abound of the train "breaking down" for what seemed like eternity when you were caught inside!

My Grand Mother, "Kate" Bunde was the Women's Clothing Buyer for Herp's from the the 1940's til 1968-69.

Herp's played a huge roll in our family. Train at Christmas, the Tea Room and of course shopping.

Many, Many stories of "Kate's" career as a clothing buyer and her trips to NY City and a crazy trip to Mexico! Kate's sister Dorothy Small was the Window Dresser for Macy's in Detroit. Department stores sort of ran in the family.

Nice to see the memories of the Herp's Train live on.

Anonymous said...

Any word on when/where the train will be on display? Would LOVE to show my mom!