It’s a pre-Civil War railroad depot, recognized as the oldest train station in Wisconsin and the oldest surviving structure of the Milwaukee Road.
It’s amazing the building still stands! In 1998, after 142 years in the weather, the depot’s two-foot thick walls were in imminent danger of collapse. Water damage had wrecked the interior. Experts say that, without swift action, the structure might have been a pile of rubble.
But, as so often happens in Mineral Point, Wisconsin local citizens formed a volunteer organization and rescued the building with a six-year construction campaign, and the fundraising and educational research that supported the physical repairs.
Local families ransacked their attics, and donated “Grandpa’s railroading gear” to the depot’s rebuilding effort, and dozens of affectionate stories were written down as a new mining/railroad museum took shape. More than 200 people made a contribution.
In 2004, Cletus Hying, the depot’s last full-time agent, unlocked the door he had closed in 1969, and a proud community effort brought visitors a vast collections and exhibits that cover 150 years of history. The next year, the depot was awarded “Best Interpretive Site” by the Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation. More recently, the museum has opened a captivating diorama that replicates the rail yard as it was in 1915.
Like so much of Mineral Point, the limestone railroad depot is an authentic place that reflects a dramatic period in the city’s past – the days of lead and zinc processing on a massive scale, and the locomotives that carried all the minerals over the rails.
For more information about visit http://www.mineralpointrailroads.com. The depot is scheduled to open for the season Thursday May 2, 2013.
Contributed by Frank Beaman