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A View From The Attic

Week of January 31, 2011


Fremont County Historical Society

The Old Railroad Depot

By Sherry Perkins

The tracks were silent. The only occupants of the old, weathered Randolph depot were raccoons, mice, termites, and dust bunnies. A local farmer envisioned his jukeboxes and antiques housed in the building, so he paid $100.00 for it in 1979 and moved it to his farm. Here it received loving care and was restored to its former glory. It welcomed visitors from far and wide. The American flag waved nearby.

In 2008, the picture changed when the farmer died and the new owner of the farm was willing to give the Depot back to the town of Randolph. An estimated cost of moving it was $20,000.00. This was an amount not feasible for a small community.

The town fathers (and yes, grandfathers!) stepped forth to volunteer. With much determination, borrowed equipment, and faith, they decided the moving project could go forth. Their attitude was "Won't know if we can move it until we try". A letter went out to present and former citizens, and alumni, asking for donations. The response was overwhelming.

After two weeks of hard work, the Depot found itself loaded onto a lowboy trailer. The volunteers were men 60 to 85 years of age when the Depot made its final journey back to town without a hitch.

Another team of volunteers had prepared the location where it would make its new home. Two empty town lots were donated by area citizens for the project. During the weeks of preparation, three ladies of the town kept the volunteers fueled with sandwiches, iced tea and pop.

A fantastically lovely September day in 2008 found the people of Randolph waiting with anticipation on the sidewalks of Main Street as the Depot made its grand entry into town. Cameras were flashing and smiles were everywhere. Tears were shed. The project had cost about $4,000.00 because so many things had been donated, borrowed, loaned and labor was free (except for the aching muscles and backs).

Repairs were made, windows washed, and floors swept. The ticket lady arrived to take her place at the ticket window and a World War I veteran stands guard in the passenger area. The baggage area holds more history and artifacts of the town. Visitors can walk through the doors and step back in time. Most children (and many adults) have never been inside a train depot so this presents a wonderful experience for aiL The Depot is not heated and even though the potbellied stove tries to keep the ticket agent warm, it leaves a lot to be desired. So spring, summer and fall are best for visits.

The proud Depot stands as a testament to the volunteers and the town who cared enough to save it. Now it awaits your visit. There are no railroad tracks close by, but you may hear the faint whistle of the old engine and the "clackity, clack" of the tracks as the ghost train rumbles by. Call 712-625-2471 or 712-625-4411 for more information.