Staff Photo: John Bohn A historic train station, built in 1871 to serve the city of Duluth, is now restored and will soon be open to the public at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth.
Staff Photo: John Bohn John Westbrook, left, and Brian Smiith, right work on the finishing touches to an historic train station, built in 1871to serve the city of Duluth. The station has been restored and will soon be open to the public at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth.
DULUTH -- A depot steeped in history will soon be open to the public.
Built in 1871 by Georgia Airline Railroad, the train depot was once the center of Duluth commerce, creating a center for shipping in the cotton trade and passenger service.
It closed decades ago, and after three moves will now reopen to the public as part of the Southeastern Railway Museum. A grand opening will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday.
"This historic structure was once a major gateway to our region," museum administrator Randy Pirkle said. "After nearly a century of service to passengers and decades of use as an office, we are proud to have the opportunity to open the restored Duluth depot to the public once more."
Not only was the depot important for business and shopping but it played a social role. According to a press release, the evening arrival of "Belle," one of the daily trains to and from the city, was a popular gathering time for local residents.
The railway closed the depot in the early 1950s. While Southeastern Railway asked the city to relocate the building, the city lacked the resources until developer Scott Hudgens moved it to a location on Pleasant Hill Road, which is now where Joan Glancy Hospital is located, using the depot as an office for a development under way.
In 1986, Hudgens moved the depot across the street to W.P. Jones Park, where the city used it as a police substation and office.
Three years ago, the city moved the depot again, this time to the Southeastern Railway Museum on Buford Highway. According to the release, the city still owns the building but the museum is responsible for the restoration and operation.