Google+ Georgia On My Mind: October 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013

Palmetto's Railroad Depot Museum

By the time I was aware of the Atlanta and West Point Railroad depot buildings they were all but abandoned since the railroad no longer used them by the mid-1960s.

Red Oak's depot was moved to another location. I'm sure the depot in College Park was used for something, but I can't remember. I do remember a law firm making their home in Fairburn's depot (it's still there), and the city of Palmetto used their depot for city offices including the police department.

The other day as I was heading through Palmetto I noticed they had opened a museum in their depot.

I decided to take a few minutes and stop. I'm glad I did. The docent and I had a lovely time sharing history.

Palmetto's depot was built somewhere between 1914 and 1917 with plenty of room for freight on one side of the building and passengers on the other. At the time the depot was built, the rails through Palmetto didn't set up as high as they do now. In fact, they dipped down to the point that sometimes the train would get stuck and an engine would be dispatched to come behind the train to "push" it along. The passengers would disembark and then have to come through a small tunnel underneath the depot and climb the steps to reach the passenger waiting room.

Once the depot was no longer needed for rail travel the city managed to rent it from CSX Railroad for $100 a year. The sweet deal came to fruition because a former mayor was a CSX employee.

When the city moved out the building sat, and like so many older beauties, it began to decay. Many thought it just needed to be torn down. After all...the roof had holes in it, and there was an asbestos issue.

Thankfully, in the year 2000 the railroad sold the depot to the city for $14,000. Once the deed was in the city's name, a group of historically minded citizens applied for a couple of grants. One in particular was a Georgia Transportation grant for $1.2 million dollars with an 80/20 split. The city would have to contribute 20 percent of the money used to restore the depot, but the majority of funds would be given. A second grant was obtained for $200,000.
Eighteen months later and just one year ago, a ribbon cutting celebration was given, and there was quite a bit to show off.
The restored depot houses a conference room at one end and space for special events on the other end. The special events section of the depot has the original depot flooring including the original freight scale embedded in the floor.
You can see the depot agent's office, the original ticket window and all the doors and windows are original to the property. There is also a train-side deck/patio.

Of course, for some folks the word "train" in the official name of the museum is confusing since the focus is Palmetto's history and NOT trains. There are no trains featured in the historical exhibits, but they DO cover Palmetto's history with new things being added all the time.

The museum is in the middle section of the depot with the brick walls lined with vintage furniture, objects, clothing and other memorabilia.


The museum also owns a vast collection of historic photographs.

A couple of penny-farthing bikes donated by former Palmetto mayor, Robert Steed are on display. A penny-farthing bike gets its name from the high wheel/small wheel that resembles a British penny next to a farthing.

Take some time and learn some local history. The Palmetto Train Depot Museum located at 549 Main Street (Highway 29/Roosevelt Highway) is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. with free admission.

Visit Georgia on my Mind's Facebook page here to see more of my pictures from my visit to the museum.

You can see pictures from Palmetto's official grand opening here....
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