REVIEW: Chicago & Alton Depot History (2007)

A book by authors

One of the very last stops on my grand History Boy Summer series was The Chicago & Alton Depot, a museum in Independence, MO. Once a 100 year old building falling into disrepair, it has been reconstructed and filled with wonderful items that are a must for both history buffs and railroad aficionados alike. Once there, I definitely wanted to snag some sort of memento in order to learn more about the site, and saw one of these inexpensive booklets there available to anyone that donated money to the site (The Bushwhacker Jail had a similar one). This book is not long, largely consists of pictures and somewhat re-treads what one learns during the guided tour of the site, but as a way to remember the museum, I felt that it was a must-purchase for me.

“Believed to be the only completely restored two story train depot in Missouri, the Chicago & Alton Depot was built in 1879.

In 1996, the Depot was moved from its original location in spectaular fashion, being lifted from its original foundation and paraded down the street in front of hundreds of spectators and news media, to its current location on West Pacific Ave. From 1992 to 2002 members of the community worked hard to bring the decaying historical wonder back to life.

The two-story depot contains three rooms on the first floor which are the waiting room, stationmaster’s room, and baggage room. On the second floor, four rooms, which were formerly the stationmaster’s residence, are the kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and the parlor. An additional bedroom and storage room have been converted to an artifacts room. The entire Depot is furnished to appear as it did in the late 1800’s.”

This book not only tells the history and background of the actual physical building that has become the museum, but also the overall history of railroads in Independence, and even the of The Chicago and Alton Company. The book is quite small, so these blobs of information are just general overviews, but establish a foundation if the reader would want to seek further information elsewhere. I honestly could not say whether there is more scholarship of the topic at hand, but it might be interesting to look around. All-in-all this is by no means much more than a souvenir book, but I enjoyed the information found within and wanted to support the museum in whatever meager way I could that day.

This is part of my series for 2021, History Boy Summer, to read more click HERE.

For more information on the site itself, click HERE.



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