The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

August 19, 2013

A cup of Eldon history

(Continued)

The Depot first began services in 1870 and was the crossroads for several lines, both freight and passenger trains. It was in 1980 that the line was shut down, and with it the main hub of Eldon, until spring 2001, when the Depot Committee was formed. The community gathered together and volunteered countless hours to resurrect the historical heart of Eldon.

Bedford shows a shelf of silver lanterns and recalls a joke about a potential catastrophe. Properly working equipment was crucial at the depot, considering the Des Moines River was just a few hundred yards away.

"A common joke among us back then was about these lanterns," Bedford explained. "The joke was if you buy a cheap $3 lantern, you'll run the train off into the river at night."

The restored crossing lights still flash at night with their red, green and yellow signals. There is a caboose outside to explore, and another volunteer built child-sized trains for the kids. There is a place for birthday parties in the train's waiting room, complete with toy trains that run a track around the room.

There is much to discover and enjoy at the Eldon Depot Museum. The simple act of caring and putting it into action is transforming the community for residents and visitors alike. Besides, where else can you drink a cup of coffee in a museum, leave the door open and not worry about flies?

The writer did not observe any flies inside the Depot during her one-hour tour, despite careful attention.

 

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