This is the fourth installment of our report of a visit to Redfield's train depot. The depot is being restored by Redfield's Tourism Board, which is headed by Kari Schultz. Kari is giving us a tour of the grand old building.
At some point the express freight room
had been divided into two rooms; you can see evidence of where a wall has been put in and taken out.
Kari thinks the railroad had very tight security for freight and baggage. "I was told that a lot of workers carried guns to protect the baggage or freight in their charge," she said.
Then we were walking back towards the ticket counter, through the baggage room, the kitchen, the lunch counter, the Men's Waiting Room. "We had hoped to have the depot open by now," Kari said. "It is a busy time outdoors for carpenters now, so it's not a good time for indoor work. We want to have the doors open before hunting season in the fall. Here it is, July already."
"We want to keep the ticket office the way it is, so people can see what it was like," Kari said. "Whatever city offices move in here, there won't be any 'private' offices. We may use an old, high wooden bank counter to hide computers and printers and wires and that sort of thing."
Kari talked about the future.
"The train that is best remembered," she said, "was called 'The Galloping Goose.' I went on the internet looking for it by that name and got into places you can't imagine. 'Galloping Goose' is a local name for the train, I think. It was like a trolley, a single car with an engine built into it. When it went down the track, it lurched side-to-side, that's where it got its name. We may find one of those, or possibly one of the old steam engines."
"We'd like to build an annual festival around the depot," Kari said. "It was be great to be able to offer a train ride from here to Huron, or even eight miles out into the country and back. People would like that."
So why does Kari do this work for tourism when she has plenty else to do?
"Small towns are like that," she said. "You take off one hat and put on another."
"I don't really know why I do it," she said. "It's just so much fun. If I could make a living working in this depot, that's what I'd do. Both Roosevelts and Sitting Bull came through here. Every night during the World War, the city band played on this platform, to welcome the returning soldiers and to send off those going to war."
"Imagine all the history that went on in this building," she said.
"One man in town was a young boy when the depot was being built," she said. "He told me that he poked his head in once. There were Italians in here, putting the marble in place. They didn't speak any English."
"A woman told me the depot has both happy and sad memories for her," Kari said. "She said that she'd gotten engaged on this platform, and her father dropped dead in the doorway of the express room. He was always home exactly on time for supper, the woman remembered. He didn't come home and didn't come home. Her mother sent her to find out what was keeping him, and she found him dead."
"When the old buildings are gone," Kari said, "they'll never be back."
Kari would like to enlist Kevin Costner in the effort to re-dedicate the depot. "He is supposedly quite a C&N buff. It would be nice to lure him here to take part in the dedication. It doesn't hurt to ask."
Kari locked the depot then, and we were standing outside near our cars, talking more generally.
"If you want to survive in a small community, you have to be willing to change," she said. "If you're not willing to change, you won't survive."
To be continued....