Museum shows off new train depot model

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Know and Go:

What: Lincoln Area Archives Museum train depot model

Where:  Beermann Plaza at 640 5th St.

Museum hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays


 Carl Sulzer can hardly control his excitement about the new attraction at the Lincoln Area Archives Museum, which is a scale model of Lincoln’s historic train depot.

 As lead volunteer for the museum’s train depot project, Sulzer, a retired energy consultant, spent four months researching the project.

  “We wanted the model to be as exact as possible for our school kids who come to visit. That’s why the research took so long,” Sulzer said. “Our depot didn’t match the drawings on file.” 

Lincoln had two train depots. The first trains began arriving in town on Oct. 31, 1861. The original train depot sat alongside the tracks on land that is now the Family Dollar store parking lot, on the corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Fifth Street, according to museum volunteers.

In 1863, the original depot was dismantled to make way for a larger station on the same site. The second depot was later moved to a Fifth Street lot behind the Woman’s Club of Lincoln where it was used briefly as a town hall. Then the building was moved to Seventh and H streets to serve as part of a cannery, according to “Historic Lincoln,” a pamphlet written by local historian Jerry Logan.

 In 1970, the second station was torn down because it was in disrepair and was not being used, according to Elizabeth Jansen, the Lincoln Area Archives Museum board member and co-lead for the depot project.

 Lincoln’s 1893-era train station building, on which the replica model is based, was a Southern Pacific Railroad combination train Depot #22. The upstairs was used as living quarters for the train station manager and his family, according to museum volunteers. The first floor was divided into a passenger waiting room, ticket office and a freight and baggage area. An indoor toilet was added later, according to Sulzer.

The Lincoln depot was different from other Depot #22 in the following ways, according to Sulzer.

 Lincoln might have been the only depot with windows in the building’s corners.

Lincoln’s depot had a longer freight building and dock. Most Depot #22 stations were 43 feet long, whereas Lincoln was extended to more than 60 feet.

Lincoln had an extension from the second floor residence over the freight portion of the building. The original Lincoln depot design labels that extension as a “CLO,” so it was probably a closet or a pantry.

The building’s five chimneys appear to be terra cotta rather than the usual brick.

The non-track side toilet (added after original construction) is in a different location than later Depot #22 models.

 The train depot model, which resembles a two-story doll house, is constructed of wood and Plexiglas. It measures three feet long and 15 to 18 inches wide. The depot replica cost $4,280. Funding for the model was provided by the Lincoln Community Foundation, according to Sulzer.

 The Lincoln Area Archives Museum is located next to Beermann Plaza at 640 Fifth St. in downtown Lincoln. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Entrance to the museum is free but donations are appreciated.