The Friends of the Big Four Depot hosted a “Choo Choo Chat” on Feb. 17. The evening brought in retired railroad workers, members of the Galion Historical Society, the president of the Bucyrus Model Railroad Association and locals interested in railroad history. They shared memories of Galion’s Depot and railroads through the decades.
Carol Kable and Marty Cecil led the discussion. They explained that the Friends group started as an informal effort to preserve the historic building.
Kable said the restoration effort was put on hold in 2004 when the city went into fiscal emergency and the Depot has been sitting there ever since. However, in this year’s budget City Council appropriated some funds to be used for repair work.
The city held tours of the building in December, and a meeting was held to discuss the historic site’s future. Another public meeting is being planned but the weather has been putting it on hold. The city hopes to bring in representatives from the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission as well.
“Tonight we’re trying to build some excitement in the community,” Kable noted. “The Friends want to support the restoration no matter what the Depot is ultimately used for.” As she read a poem called “The Old Depot,” a train whistle could be heard as a locomotive rolled through town.
Attendees passed around old photos and news clippings. Some recalled riding in passenger trains while they still came to Galion, and the Freedom Train that stopped by in 1975. The train derailment that knocked down the platform roof was another interesting tidbit mentioned.
One item that most Galionites may not know is that Galion’s Depot had a twin, located in Indiana, that was torn down. According to one attendee, the buildings were almost identical and were probably designed by the same architect.
After more than an hour of sharing, and with freezing rain falling outside, the discussion came to a close. The Friends will hold another meeting on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m., again at First Lutheran Church (127 South Columbus Street). The public is invited to attend.