GALION — The Big Four Depot will be open to the public on Saturday, May 22 as its supporters celebrate Depot Day Galion.
“(Depot Day) is a showcase event for the building itself,” said Matt Echelberry, secretary of the Galion Depot, Inc., board of trustees. “It’ll be a good day for railroad fans and supporters and people who want to see something happen with this building.”
Echelberry and other local residents with a vested interest in the depot’s future development recently participated in a clean-up day the 120-year-old structure located at 127 North Washington Street in Galion. The depot and adjacent Big Four Depot Pavilion will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Echelberry said the depot board of trustees and its allies from the Friends of the Big Four Depot organization hope the showcase event this weekend will spur more interest in the depot and its preservation.
“The depot’s been closed as a railroad station since 1969 and it’s been closed to any sort of public use since about ‘04, ‘05, so it’s been a while since it’s had any real use,” Echelberry said. “But people still have a warm place in their hearts for it, especially people who are affiliated with the railroad or people who have been a passenger here in the past at one point in their lives. It just holds a real special place in Galion’s history and the community. We want to see the building preserved.”
Saturday’s activities include the presentation of a sign by the family of depot supporter Jon Lantz at 12:45 p.m.
A representative of All Aboard Ohio, a passenger rail advocacy group, is scheduled to conduct an informational session at 1 p.m. in the pavilion.
The Galion Community Band is scheduled to perform at 2 p.m.
Railroad enthusiast Brett Dunbar will present a history of the Interurban Transportation System at 3 p.m. in the pavilion.
Various displays will be set up inside the depot and the pavilion that visitors can view throughout the day. Additionally, the Romick Railway from Findlay will provide “trackless train rides” during the day. Tours of the depot will be offered. Food trucks will be on site.
For information, contact the Friends of the Big Four Depot via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 419-468-2944 or 419-617-9182.
History of the Big Four Depot
According to the Ohio Historical Marker located on the property, the Big Four Depot was dedicated on Dec. 27, 1900, and served as the division headquarters for the Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, and St. Louis railroad, hence the name Big Four. The historical marker notes that the depot experienced “peak passenger usage” during and after World War I with 32 trains making daily stops in Galion.
Big Four Depot was a “whistle stop” for several presidential candidates including Al Smith in 1928, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, and Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon in 1952. All four men made speeches from the train platform in Galion.
The New York Central Railroad acquired the Big Four Depot in 1929 and operated it until 1969. The depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
For information about the Big Four Depot, visit its page on the City of Galion website. Go to galion.city. The Galion Big Four Depot link is located under the “Visiting” tab. Information is also available on the Galion Depot, Inc. Facebook page.
For information about Friends of the Galion Big Four Depot, visit its Facebook page.