GALION — History came to life Saturday at the Big Four.
Depot Day was celebrated as Galion area residents gathered to reminisce about and admire antique train memorabilia, photos and more.
Chris Love grew up in Galion and brought a myriad of train items he has collected over the years, as well as replicas he has built. He pointed out some of the items came from Marty Cecil’s dad’s collection from when he served as train master at the Galion Depot in the late 1950s and early ‘60s.
“There are some letters of his from when he was on the passenger train that Richard Nixon was on when he ran against Kennedy in 1960,” Love said. “This is a copy of the thank you letter, I have the original one at home.”
Another item on display in Love’s collection was a miniature version of the roundhouse that had been in Galion at one point.
“I went from the blueprints and built it piece by piece,” he said. “I got a copy of the blueprints off eBay. The roundhouse sat just north of town, up here on the tracks about a mile and a half away. I’ve got blueprints of everything.”
Love said he has been collecting items since he was a kid as he love for the train history stemmed from the times spent at his grandma and grandfather’s home.
“They lived on South Union Street. There was another depot there then and they lived close to that one. It sat across from the Moose Lodge. My aunts would walk me down there when the trains would come by in the 1970s and I would watch. I’ve been a member of the model railroad club for over 40 years … since I was in the eighth grade.”
Love said he finds his photos and other artifacts anywhere he can find them.
“You might have a friend that has something, or something on eBay and a lot of it comes from train shows,” he said. “Also, at antique shops around here I’ve gotten some of the tools. I just enjoy doing it, it’s a lot of fun. I’ve been doing this for years.”
Love said he is a member of the Big Four Inc. group and last year he built the coal dock replica, and this year he built the round house and he has high hopes on recreating the depot itself next year.
Marty Cecil, who along with Carol Kable and a couple others, met about six or seven years ago and wanted to get some renovations going at the depot.
“I met with Linda Chambers,” Cecil said. “Linda has all the papers and archives having to do with redoing the depot…all the information. She met with us a few times. Then, when Tom O’Leary was elected (mayor), he was very supportive of the depot and he said ‘let’s get started’ and that’s when the (Friends of the Big Four) board was selected,” Cecil said.
Cecil’s father, Richard Hover, was trainmaster at the Galion Depot from 1958 or 1959 until the winter of 1963. That is when Carl Marsh took over as trainmaster and Carl’s son David Marsh was also on hand Saturday with lots of paintings and other train related artifacts.
Cecil said the main goal of the Friends of the Depot group is to ultimately refurbish the old trainmaster’s room, which has the windows that face north and south and hopefully create a mini museum in the depot with artifacts that people can visit.
This wooden train, named "The General" was crafted by Walter Seckel of Galion. It was on display at the Big Four Depot on Saturday.
Chris Love points to the thank you letter written by Richard Hover, Marty Cecil’s dad, who served as train master at Galion’s Big Four Depot.
Carol Kable, president of the Friends of the Big Four; Jim Gerstenslager, president of Depot Inc.; David Marsh, whose dad Carl Marsh served as train master in Galion in 1963; and Marty Cecil, another member of Friends of the Big Four. Carl is holding a painting of the St. Louis Limited that hung in the trainmaster’s office in Galion. He said his dad took it with him when he left Galion.
These are some of the lamps and other items that were used at the Big Four Depot, when Galion was a regular stop sight for four different railways.