Category: Railroad History

Railroad History

Depot at Selkirk

The Shallow Water Depot will hopefully find its permanent setting at Selkirk, Kansas, after making its fifth move in over a hundred and thirteen years and restored as it would have looked in 1887.

The building had to be sold and removed from it?s present location at Pierceville caused by the new four-lane highway being built across Kansas. This is an excellent building and will add much character to the Selkirk site. We have been told this depot started at the Alfalfa station site, on the Garden City, Gulf & Northern Railway between Garden City and Scott City, Kansas, which was only 35 miles long. The first passenger train to Scott City ran on Dec. 30, 1909. The train only had to maintain a 20 m.p.h. schedule, so would stop and let people on or off anywhere along the line! The legal description of Alfalfa was Range 33 W, Twp. 23 S, Sec. 11 in Finney County. A very small shelter was built at Shallow Water, and the larger depot at Alfalfa. Before long Shallow Water was needing a real depot, and the two buildings were exchanged, very possible loaded on a railroad car and moved. The line was purchased by the Santa Fe Railway.

The large hip roof is made of slate tiles and is in excellent condition. The depot will be painted the original color of the Santa Fe Railway, which was brick red with green trim and the name of “Selkirk” will be painted on the ends. The area will be landscaped and a brick platform will be laid in the front of the building. A security system will also be installed. A plan in the distant future is a replica of the large water tank to be built. An application to the National Register of Historic Places has been made, having made our first application to the Kansas State Register and receiving their nomination to apply to the National Register.

The historic depot sets the atmosphere with perfection. While being an excellent display of the past railroad history in itself, the depot will be used as an area for the railroad model displays and other railroad artifacts, rest rooms and a gift shop. Landscaping and picnic tables are also in the future plans. Word from an official of the National Railway Co. is that they know of no other railroad well in existence.

– Wichita County Historical Society

Rock Island Depot

In April, 1888, the first train with goods other than construction materials arrived at the end of the new Rock Island line in Liberal, Kansas.

The depot, a crumbling relic just three years ago, was rescued and refurbished with a combination of funding from the city and state, private contributions, and a lot of hard work. With the first building completed, efforts continue to finish the eastern building, which once housed a hotel and restaurant.

For now, several city offices, including that of the director of community development and chamber of commerce, have found homes in the western building.

The newly restored depot is listed on the National Register for Historic Landmarks and is the central theme of the annual Rock Island Jubilee in June.

Santa Fe Depot

Lakin originated as one of the early stops on the Santa Fe Railroad from Dodge City to Colorado in 1872. This depot, constructed in 1876, replaced the original boxcar depot. The depot was moved to the museum site and restored in 1984.

Mr. James Thomas, grandson of the O’Loughlins, had worked for the railroad for many years. He helped to put the station in proper order and contributed countless pictures, documents and equipment to make the depot complete. rn

Great Plains Transportation Museum

The Great Plains Transportation Museum, GPTM, displays a wide assortment of railroad equipment, artifacts and memorabilia.

The two largest displays are the Santa Fe steam locomotive #3768 and the Santa Fe FP45 diesel #93. These locomotives are unique in the collection in that they represent the last class of passenger locomotives built for the Santa Fe in their respective eras.

Indoor exhibits include railroad prints, signs, lanterns, tools, and other artifacts including a mock-up mechanical stoker used for training steam locomotive personnel.

Gift shop merchandise includes clothes, hats, books, artifacts, videos, toys, and other railroad paraphernalia.

Parking is available just east of the Douglas street entrance. Enter through the gift shop and head up stairs and see a collection of rolling stock or watch modern trains rolling by. You can also stand at the front door and see the grand old Union Station across the street.rn

Missouri-Pacific Railroad Depot

In its boom, the railroad had eighteen scheduled trains running daily. With both passengers and freight, the trains were constantly on the move. Downs also had a large roundhouse with a capacity for ten locomotives, and with its well balanced turntable, could turn the heaviest locomotive with ease. Downs still has its railroad, operated by Kyle Railroad of Phillipsburg, which runs several freight trains weekly.

The Depot is currently being remodeled by the Downs Historical Society.

The Depot

The authentic red brick railroad depot was built in the early 1900’s and still displays the authentic red tile roof. The depot features a personalized brick pathway and etched glass family type transom window.

The depot is currently being renovated by the Willow Springs Art Council for use as a community art center. Facilities will be available for theater, music programs, art gallery, traveling exhibits, workshops, classes and other community events.

KS Merci Boxcar Museum & Veterans Memorial Park

Kansas Merci Boxcar Museum & Veterans Memorial ParkrnAt the close of World War II the French nation was devastated. Reconstruction was a slow process. Farmlands had been ravished. War-damaged factories had to be rebuilt and retooled before industry could begin the production of civilian goods. By 1947, two years after the war ended, France had not yet sufficiently recovered to provide food and other necessities for her people.

Drew Pearson, a well known radio commentator and Washington Post columnist, suggested the American people do something to help ease the hunger. That was on October 11, 1947. Mr. Pearson suggested we send a boxcar filled with donated food to their former ally. Immediately the American people began to act; donations began pouring in from every state. Just three short weeks later an engine pulling 11 filled boxcars left L.A. bound for New York. Trains were added along the way, by the time it arrived in New York, 700 cars filled with tons of food, clothing, and medical supplies were lined up to be loaded on the S.S. American Leader.

To express their gratitude, the French people collected over 50,000 gifts ranging from Sevres pottery, Limoges porcelains, Baccaret crystal, engraved woodwork, church bells, bonnets, peasant costumes, and simple drawings from the children of France. The gifts were delivered using France’s infamous boxcars.

These boxcars were built in France between 1852-1885 for use of shipping freight, horses, cattle and other domestic animals and troops during the two wars. Forty-nine of these cars were located, one for each state and the District of Columbia. The boxcars were repaired, painted and then filled with the gifts and called the “Gratitude Train.”

The boxcars arrived in the United States early February, 1949. The Kansas Merci Boxcar was accepted by “MERCI GIFTS FOR KANSAS, INC.” After being on display in Topeka, the car made a 140 day tour of Kansas visiting 120 towns. Ending on Armistice Day, November 11, 1949, the boxcar was placed next to the library on the campus of the then Fort Hays State College.

The restored Kansas Merci Boxcar Museum and the Veterans Memorial Park can be seen at the Hays American Legion Hall.

Admission: Free Admission rnHours: Guided tours available by appointment. rnAddress: 1305 CanterburyrnPhone: 785-625-9681 rnWebsite: