Friday, December 5, 2014

Sliced Bread and Railroad Depots

As we drifted east through eastern Nebraska, returning to our son and daughter in-law’s home in Omaha, I added a couple more railroad depots to my photo album…

This is the former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy passenger depot in Minden Nebraska.  The railroad built this station in 1913.  As you can see, the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe railway still uses this building.   The Burlington and Missouri River Railroad came through town in 1883 and the Kansas City and Omaha line arrived in 1887.

Minden was founded by German settlers in 1876.  The town was named after Minden Germany.  The current population is about 2,900.  Minden is the County Seat for Kearney County.  Interestingly, local settlers actually stole the county seat from Lowell Nebraska.  They just showed up at the Lowell courthouse one day and removed all of the county records, taking them to Minden.  To read this story, you can go to

Subsequent research revealed that I missed 2 other depots that have been moved from small towns to Minden.  One had been moved from Keene and the other from Lowell Nebraska.  The Keene Depot is owned by the Kearney County Historical Museum.  (

The Lowell Depot is located at Harold Warp’s Pioneer Village.  We definitely plan to pay the Pioneer Village a visit on another trip to Nebraska.  There is a lot of Americana to see at this huge museum complex, including 350 antique automobiles!  Check it out at

This beautiful depot built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style is located in Hastings Nebraska.  It was built by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad back in 1902.  After extensive refurbishing and restoration, this depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Hastings was founded in 1871 where the St. Joseph and Denver Railroad crossed the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy line.  By 1880, Hastings was a major railroad town with trains leaving town in 5 different directions.  By the time this depot was built, there were 8 rail lines radiating from Hastings.  The city has a population of about 25,000.

Most of the Hastings depot is leased out to a local business, “Showcase”, which displays and sells plumbing, lighting, cabinets and counter tops.  The building and grounds are meticulously maintained.


·       Actress Sandra “Sandy” Dennis was born in Hastings in 1937.  She won 2 Tony Awards as well as an Oscar for her performance in the 1966 iteration of the movie “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”  She played the part of George Segal’s wife. neurotic wife Honey.

·       Tom Osborne, the well-known University of Nebraska Football Coach, was born in Hastings.

·       Edwin Elijah Perkins (1889 – 1961), was born in Lewis, Iowa.  But he and his family moved to Hastings, where he invented Kool-Aid in 1927.

All this scene needs is a dozen or so passengers dressed in their 1940’s or 50’s fashions, waiting for the next train!  This is a classic railway waiting platform… I can hear the steam locomotive coming on down the track!

FYI…Another depot of historical significance was located near Hastings.  The Naval Ammunition Depot near town was the largest United States World War II naval munitions plant during WWII.  It occupied 49,000 acres and it included over 2000 structures.  It produced up to 40% of the US Navy’s munitions.  At peak production, this ‘depot’ employed 125 officers, 1,800 enlisted men, and 6,692 civilians!

And yes…a portion of the Hastings railroad depot is still an active passenger depot!  It is one of the stops along the route of the California Zephyr between Chicago and San Francisco.  Two Amtrak passenger trains stop at Hastings each day.  In 2013, a total of 5,865 passengers were recorded at this depot.  From what I could determine, this station actually has a ticket window that is open daily from 11:30 PM until 7:00 AM.  Without checking, I’m guessing that both trains stop at Hastings in the wee hours of the morning. 

You are right!  This is not a railroad depot… This is however, a very important historical site.  

Inventor Otto Frederick Rohwedder, from Davenport, Iowa, invented the first loaf-at-a-time bread-slicing machine.   The first commercial use of the machine was by Frank Bench and Rohwedder at the Chillicothe Baking Company which was located in this building.  Their product, "Kleen Maid Sliced Bread", proved a success.  The bread was advertised as "the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped."  Amen!

We were in Tennessee headed for home and we stumbled across one more old railroad depot.  Laurie spotted it even though it was ‘blended in’ with other structures on one side and the railroad tracks were long gone.  This is the former North Carolina and St. Louis Railroad Depot in Lebanon Tennessee.  I was unable to determine when it was built but the style makes me think that it must have been between 1900 and 1915.  The first railroad to come to Lebanon was the Tennessee and Pacific in 1871.  The last passenger train left town in 1935.

The city of Lebanon has a population of about 29,000.  It’s part of the Nashville Standard Metropolitan Area.  Lebanon is the corporate headquarters of Cracker Barrel Restaurants and the Nashville Superspeedway is located nearby.  Of special interest to train buffs is the fact that Nashville’s Regional Transportation Authority actually provides commuter train service from Lebanon into downtown Nashville via the “Music City Star”.  Four diesel locomotive powered trains leave from and arrive in Lebanon daily, Monday through Friday.  Check out the train and depots at
That’s it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Love that old baggage cart in the fourth photo. A real classic.I'm surprised someone hasn't snapped that up for a movie set. I think you may be well on your way to the worlds record for recording old RR stations or perhaps a guide book for connoisseurs of the old stations. You could divide it into categories based on their age.

    Have a good weekend.

  2. Another great post! That's an awesome picture with the platform! It looks so lonely, it needs people milling about. Too funny with county seat, and it must've been for a good reason, so I will check that out. And Rohwedder did a good thing for us! Thanks for sharing!
    Have a great weekend!

  3. Looks like the Hastings depot is being well utilized and I enjoy all the history that you provide. I wonder if the slicing machine guys ever heard "the best thing since sliced bread" in their lifetime.

  4. David I love colonial spanish style, here many houses have this style Im sure you would love here!
    Lovely pics!!
    Have a nice weekend dears!