Monday, December 1, 2014

More Railroad Depots and History…

Our trip to Nebraska during the first part of September gave me lots of opportunity to search out old railroad depots.  We ‘scored’ repeatedly, photographing depots in Nebraska, Missouri and Tennessee.

This is the old Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and depot in McCook Nebraska.  It was built in 1925, replacing its predecessor which was built in 1882.  As you can see from the photo, a portion of this large depot is still used as a waiting room by Amtrak.  Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage service at this station, which is served by two trains each day.  This station is on the route of the California Zephyr… In 2013, the station served 3,638 passengers.  This depot is now owned by the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad.

Factoid: Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones built several ranches just northeast of McCook. He is usually credited with saving the American bison from extinction.  Jones was an American frontiersman, farmer, rancher, hunter, and conservationist.  Among other accomplishments, in 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed his friend Jones as the first game warden at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming…where Jones also established a herd of buffalo.  To learn more about this interesting character, just go to

The Holdrege Nebraska Amtrak Depot is located about 72 miles east of McCook.  It was originally opened in 1910 by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and it’s been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1997.  This is another stop along the route of the California Zephyr.  This depot served 2,335 passengers in 2013.

During World War II, Holdrege was a major troop activity center and this station also served a nearby prisoner of war camp.  A local resident rescued the depot from demolition, had the interior of the building completely restored and installed a new shingle roof in 2002.  The station is now used for commercial office space in addition to serving as an Amtrak depot.

This Burlington Route caboose and a rail maintenance vehicle are on display at the east end of the Holdrege Depot.  For those under the age of 25 or so, a caboose was a manned North American rail transport vehicle coupled at the end of a freight train.  Cabooses provided shelter for crew at the end of a train, who were required for switching and shunting, and to keep a lookout for load shifting, damage to equipment and cargo, or overheating axles.  Rules requiring the use of a caboose on freight trains were relaxed in the 1980s.
The town of Holdrege was created in 1883 when the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad announced plans to bypass the existing town of Phelps Center.  The townspeople had expected the railroad to come through their town.  In the end, despite negative feelings by many, everyone moved to the site chosen by the railroad, creating the city of Holdrege.  By 1885, Phelps Center had been completed razed. 

This is a former Illinois Central Railroad passenger railcar that also saw service with the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad.  In the early 1980’s it was converted to an office/work car configuration.  It was reported to be in service down in Mississippi as recently as 2006.  With the name “Pecos” on the side, it’s now on static display at west end of the Holdrege depot.  I couldn’t determine what year this coach was built…

This is the former Burlington Northern Depot in Cameron Missouri.  The Cameron Historical Society spent years restoring this depot into the “Depot Museum”, which houses artifacts tracing Cameron’s railroad heritage.  The town once had 3 train stations and it boasted 44 trains a day!  I couldn’t find any reference as to when this depot was constructed…

Every railway museum seems to have a caboose on display!  This is an updated version of the old ‘cupola’ caboose.  As it rolled along, the crew sat in elevated seats to inspect the train from this perch in the cupola.

Cameron grew very quickly when the “Cameron Cutoff” was built.  This route diverted the east-west rail line to Kansas City Missouri where the first railroad bridge across the Missouri River was established.  In 1859, with a population of only 100, the first load of livestock was shipped by rail from Cameron.  By 1881 the population had grown to 3,000 and records show 300 carloads of livestock a year originating in the town. 

We had a long drive ahead of us on the day we were in Cameron so we didn’t have a chance to explore the museum.  The depot is certainly well maintained.  To learn more about the museum and Cameron’s history, go to

Cameron gained additional notoriety in the 1980s and 1990s.  Cameron’s Bob F. Griffin served more than 15 years as Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives—the longest of any representative.  The pork barrel/beneficial legislation he managed to wrangle on behalf of the town resulted in the creation of the Missouri Veterans Home and the Western Missouri Correctional Center.  The latter is the city's biggest employer with 700 employees.  Griffin eventually served four years for corruption. (It reminds me of the politics in our former home in Chicago!)

Cameron does have an interesting history and the city’s website does a nice job of covering all of the historical angles.  Check it out at

This caboose is also on display at the Cameron Missouri Depot.  It’s referred to as a “bay window” caboose.  The crew monitoring the train sits in the middle of the car in a section of wall that protrudes from the side of the caboose.  This style provided a better view of the side of the train and eliminated the falling hazard of the cupola.  It also gained favor with many railroads because it eliminated the need for additional clearance in tunnels and overpasses.


·       Railroad contractors completed the Hannibal-St. Joseph Railway ahead of schedule in 1859 and earned a bonus—ten gallons of whiskey!

·       The Kansas City Southern Railway Company (KCS) is reportedly the smallest and second-oldest Class I railroad company still in operation.  KCS was founded in 1887 and is currently operating in a region consisting of ten central U.S. states.  The railroad also owns and indirectly operates Kansas City Southern de México (KCSM) in the central and northeastern states of México.

This is the former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Freight Depot in Chillicothe Missouri.  It certainly has seen better days…

Chillicothe is the county seat of Livingston County, Missouri.  The town has a population of around 9,500.  The name "Chillicothe" is Shawnee for "big town", and was named after their Chillicothe which, since 1774, had been located about a mile from the present-day city.


·       In 1990, Chillicothe area residents Ray and Faye Copeland, (aged 76 and 69 respectively), the oldest couple ever sentenced to death in the United States. These serial killers were convicted of killing five drifters.  When her sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1999, Faye Copeland was the oldest woman on death row.

·       Did you know that Chillicothe is one of only two cities named in the world-famous song "Hooray for Hollywood" that opens the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards? (The Oscars) The other is Paducah Kentucky…

This is the former Wabash Railroad/Chicago, Burlington and Quincy passenger depot in Chillicothe.  It’s adjacent to the old freight depot.  Once again I was unable to determine when either of these depots was built.  I would guess that the freight depot predates the passenger depot…
Fortunately, the passenger depot has been re-purposed… It is now the home of the second location for Wabash BBQ, an award winning BBQ restaurant that has been operating since 1997 in Excelsior Springs Missouri.  This restaurant has been open since December of 2006.  Address: 1 Elm Street.  Phone: 660-646-6777.  Hours are from 11 AM to 3 PM Tuesday – Sunday.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit! 

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. I always enjoy your depot posts. Have you seen the Greenback depot since it's restoration.

  2. I have a friend who was fascinated with rail roads and used to collect miniature railroads. His collection grew so much he built a small house for it. I must send him some of your posts. I know he would get a big kick our of reading them.

  3. Dear Dave, It is so nice to have these places to visit and enjoy. Catherine