By Jennifer McDaniel, for the Lincoln Sentinel
A year ago, local historians were making plans to use more than $40,000 in newly awarded grant funding to give the former Sylvan Grove Union Pacific Railroad Depot a solid foundation.
And last month, a new base was poured, replacing the crumbling underpinning supporting the last surviving depot in Lincoln County.
The local Union Pacific depot was one of 14 recipients selected last year for a Heritage Trust Fund grant. The grant program works by providing matching funds for the preservation of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places or the Register of Historic Kansas Places. The trust fund reimburses expenses for projects that preserve or restore historic properties. Most recently, the historical society received a $4,320 grant from the Heritage Trust Fund for improvements to the community’s Evangelical Lutheran School.
Years ago, the Union Pacific, formerly known as the Pacific Railroad, only used bridge beams for the depot’s foundation. As the years passed, however, the support began to deteriorate. In recent years, the historical society discovered the east half of the building was only sitting on sill plates, which caused it to rot and sink into the ground. Wishing to preserve the building, the society’s historical preservation board decided to temporarily move the building aside and place a proper concrete foundation on the site.
Once the concrete foundation has cured, Terry Lilak, Sylvan Grove Historical Society secretary, said Thursday officials anticipated moving the depot back to its original location sometime this week, but that decision depended on factors such as the weather. Once the depot is set, Lilak said volunteers would begin working on the interior and exterior parts of the project.
Built in 1887, the structure is an example of a combination depot, meaning it served both freight and passenger needs. The rail line the depot served was originally known as the Salina, Lincoln & Western Railway Line, which later became a part of the Union Pacific Railroad. The existing depot still stands in its original location – at the south end of Sylvan Grove’s Main Street. According to historians, the depot closed in 1968; the rails on either side of the building were removed following the 1993 flood. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 2, 2014.
The depot, located at 131 S. Main St., was purchased by the Sylvan Grove Historical Society in 2005.
To follow progress of the project, please visit the Sylvan Historical Society’s Facebook page.
For an earlier story on the depot, please see the “Historic Sylvan depot moved” post.