Architectural study may be next
The committee to Save the Depot in Storm Lake met with leaders of the Cherokee Depot project recently to learn the secrets of the success of that half-million-dollar restoration project.
The meeting produced some good advise for the Storm Lakers, according to committee founder Brad Strader.
"I came away from the meeting more optimistic than I've been in quite a while. They were able to fill us in on some of the grants that they had found. It seems like we're pretty well on track, or at least headed in the right direction," Strader said this week.
Strader spoke with officials of the Canadian National Railroad, which owns the Storm Lake depot, recently. While they haven't yet budged on their plans to replace the depot with a prefab storage building, or offered to part with the building, they are considering the option of locating the new storage building to the south of the depot location, which could spare the depot and buy the group some negotiation time, Strader hopes.
In talking with other groups that have restored depots, it seems that the best approach has been for locals to go directly to the offices of the railroad presidents to plead their cases.
"Well, in our case, that would mean going to Toronto, and if that's what it takes, that what it takes. We'll try everything we can locally first," Strader said.
The depot was built by the Illinois Central Railroad in 1915.
It has been in use ever since. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places when the IC Railroad celebrated its centennial some years ago, but in the past year, the Canadian National has taken bids to demolish the dilapidated landmark in favor of a more efficient storage building with less liability concerns.
The local committee hopes to obtain the building to serve as a community welcome center and museum, although other public or private uses have not been ruled out.
The next step for the committee may be to raise a small amount of funding to help pay the cost for an architectural examination of the building to determine its condition and the potential cost for restoration. Local architect Glen Huntingon has expressed an interest in being involved.
The committee is also putting out a call to the community seeking and old information on the depot's history, such as early photographs of the structure, site plans, memoirs from people who worked on the railroad in Storm Lake, and any other interesting items. Anyone interested in getting involved or sharing a historical item may contact Strader at 732-7201.