category : Railroad History
On October 15, 1866, the Union Pacific Railroad track laying crews reached the "100th Meridian", which is where Cozad stands today. The Pacific Railroad Act signed by President Lincoln, which had authorized the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, stated that the first railroad line to reach the 100th Meridian would win the right to build on toward California.
The Union Pacific brought dignitaries by the score for a BIG CELEBRATION at the 100th Meridian. The celebration was described in the New York papers as "The Arabian Nights Entertainment of the Ages". Among the guests were Rutherford B. Hayes, Robert Todd Lincoln, George M. Pullman, members of the U.S. Congress, editors, capitalists and high ranking U.S. Army brass. Also included among the guests were several prominent women. This was the first passenger train to roll in Nebraska Territory and included the car which the year before had borne President Lincoln's body from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Illinois.
Two of Cozad's early depots burned down and the Union Pacific got tired of rebuilding so they set a couple of box cars near the tracks. These box cars were used as the depot and freight house for quite some time. Then a more permanent structure was built. When the present building was constructed in 1925, the old depot was moved south of Cozad and used for several different purposes. That early depot is now the west end of the building located at 402 East 4th Street.
This Union Pacific Depot was designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood who won fame in this country through his architectural designs of lodges and hotels in historical vacation parks and resorts throughout the United States. Early in his career, Underwood became consulting architect to the Union Pacific Railroad. The Cozad Depot as well as the Union Terminal in Omaha, Nebraska resulted from that association.
In 1990, the Union Pacific Railroad donated the 65-year-old depot along with $35,000 to help pay the cost of moving the building to the present location. Cozad United Way, Inc., is the present owner of the building. The restoration of the building was made possible by a bequest to the United Way from the Marge Wilson estate. Thus was established the "Wilson Human Services Center".
Come visit us in Cozad, Nebraska