Progress as told by Bob Rees
Property Improvements During 2008
Fencing – The City of Oregon had the Depot Museum property surveyed so that plans for fencing could be completed. The depot has 280 feet of frontage to the BNSF mainline, which will provide room for a locomotive when the time is appropriate. A used aluminum, wrought iron appearing, fence was purchased to surround our property and an effort to install a barrier between the depot and the BNSF right of way will soon be made.
Heating and Air Conditioning – The Depot Board had three bids for the installation of two 500-ton furnaces to be installed in the Oregon Depot. The low bid was a local contractor who did an excellent installation that is not intrusive on the aesthetics. The system provides heating and air conditioning with two zones of control.
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation provided a $10,000 grant as 50% matching funds for the installation of the heating and air-conditioning. The BNSF has been very supportive of the depot restoration and made it all possible when the BN sold the depot to the City for $1. We have many Burlington employees visit the depot and when needed, many employees work as volunteers on various projects.
Rewiring and Lighting – Board member Rich Rhoads, a semi-retired electrician, has rewired the depot with commercial panel boxes and conduit throughout. We now have a sensor that turns the outside and office lights on at dusk, and off at dawn.
There was one remaining original light fixture in the men’s restroom and we were able to have it duplicated for all of our ceiling fixtures. The fixtures were $185 each and most board members made contributions toward their purchase, but several fixtures remain to be obtained. All contributors will be recognized on a plaque in the waiting room
Interior Finishing – Brian Hermes who has restored our exterior stucco and interior plaster, returned to complete interior finishing. There were many areas that needed to wait until other things were accomplished. Brian used many techniques that duplicated the original look of 1914.
Board Member Otto Dick, with his many years experience in the carpenter trade, completed the finishing of the interior wood furnishings of the depot, including the ticket window, the installation of the office floor and the restored original furniture. Today, looking at the pristine waiting room, it is hard to remember the horrid condition when we started in 2001.
Alumni Group Projects – This group of high-school classmates from 1949-1952, returned for the seventh time during late summer to continue their faithful effort to contribute to the depot’s restoration. Their accomplishments this year included soffit repairs, rusted gutter removal, painting, and woodwork refinishing.
Fund Raising during 2008
Women’s Waiting Room – Volunteer Skip Johnson began collecting funds for the depot from those who wish to be recognized in a separate room of the completed depot. The women’s waiting room will have displays and rosters of those who have fond memories of passenger service, and those military men who left and returned to the depot during service. Along with donations, Skip is accumulating stories and pictures about some of those memories.
Purchase-a-Brick Program – As part of the restoration project, the depot will again be surrounded by platforms made of brick, and some of those bricks will be from the original platforms of the depot. The Depot Museum initiated a program whereby those original bricks may be individually purchased for engraving up to three lines of commemorative text. These bricks will be installed near the front doorway of the depot. One section will be for benefactors who have donated $500 or more and in-kind contributors that have been so important to the restoration. Details of this and other fund raising programs can be found here.
Use of the Depot during 2008
Burlington Route Historical Society – The Burlington Route Historical Society returned to Oregon for their annual Spring Meeting, and the City provided the Coliseum for the swap meet, clinics and banquet. The depot was open during the event, with hosts serving refreshments and conducting tours. Most attending members visited the depot.
National Railway Historical Society – In August, the National Railway Historical Society returned to use the depot for a monthly meeting, and the group of railfans enjoyed the program interruptions with activity on the mainline, 50 feet away.
Holiday Season Tradition – A Christmas tree continues a long tradition at the Oregon Depot that goes back to the 1920’s when Station Agent Roy Sherick erected a tree each year for the holiday season. For this year’s Christmas Candle Walk we had an open house with another beautifully decorated tree donated by the Sinnissippi Tree Farms of Oregon. The tree this year was so perfect that it could have been beautiful without decorations. When the Depot Board renewed the tradition in 2001, we solicited the donation of decorations from citizens of Oregon. Many of their contributions were home made with original ideas and excellent workmanship. The tree is lighted daily from dusk until midnight between Thanksgiving and one week following New Year’s.