The historic two-story Rock Island Depot, which housed the Western Division Headquarters of the Rock Island Railroad, is now a railroad museum. It houses Rock Island artifacts and memorabilia from Rock Island railroaders who worked out of Fairbury and the area. The depot is one of two remaining brick RI depots in Nebraska, and the only RI depot of the original 36 in the state that is preserved as it was when it was built in 1914. As the Western Division headquarters, all Rock Island trains west of Chicago were dispatched from the depot.
With its large main lobby, ticket office, lounges, and baggage areas, the museum offers room for special programs and meetings, and is home to a working model railroad setup. Get acquainted with the men who made the Rocket race across the country and learn about the life of a railroader. See the baggage room, which looks just like it did when the Rock Island closed the depot's doors in 1980, complete with scales and baggage carts. A gift shop specializing in train souvenirs is also housed in the museum. The upper level of the building is under restoration, but tours are available to see the trainmaster's office, superintendent's office, telegrapher and dispatcher's rooms "in the rough". They will eventually become a children's interpretive area, conference room, curator's office, model train room, and restored telegraph room.
The splendid garden in front of the depot is a spot of beauty, highlighted by the brick RI memory wall. Special all-day programs are held the Saturday before Christmas, the first weekend in June and during Germanfest in September.
Hours: Hours for the museum are 1-5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday.
Tours by appointment.
Address: 2nd and I Streets
Phone: (402) 729-5131
Our Email: email@example.com
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