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A new railroad station for the growing community of Scottsburg was deemed necessary. Railroad records indicate that the station was erected in 1872 at a cost of $1,492. This depot would become Scottsburg’s link to the railroad and to the outside world serving as a point of entry for newcomers to the community, a meeting place for those returning home, and the arrival place for the US mail. The telegraph station was also located here making communication prior to the telephone possible. The Austin Chronicle gives evidence of this in its pages. From July 7, 1881 we can read that “Link Anderson has taken quarters at the depot and is learning telegraph.” And also, “the shooting of Jas. A. Garfield caused intense excitement in this place; large crowds assembled around the depot eager to learn from the passing trains all the latest news regarding the tragedy. The universal wish of everyone is that it may prove not to be a political scheme, and that Garfield may survive.” The railroad and this depot were vital in developing Scottsburg into the city it is today.
The Scottsburg station was a combination passenger/freight depot constructed of wood with board and batten siding and tall narrow windows. The building was divided lengthwise into three rooms in the passenger section; two separate waiting rooms, one for the ladies and one for the men, separated by the agents office with two bay windows. The freight room filled the remaining space and is distinguished on the outside with sliding freight doors. As was typical of other Indiana depots, the roof, supported by ornamental brackets, had large overhangs to protect waiting passengers. On the outside, the station looks very much like it did in 1896 when Benjamin Harrison spoke here from the campaign car of President McKinley. By 1914, Indiana depots numbered 1,500. By 1989 fewer than 250 remained. After serving as a depot for the Pennsylvania Railroad, the station closed in 1950 and was sold in 1954 to the Vail Lumber Company for a lumber shed. By the 1990s, the building was falling into a state of disrepair and Mabel Vail Kimmick wanted to see the building relocated to enable the lumber company to expand. In a letter written to the Preservation Alliance, Inc. from Dr. Francis H. Parker, co-author of Railroads of Indiana, he states, “I have visited and photographed the Scottsburg depot, and examined old railroad records and maps pertaining to the depot. I think the Scottsburg depot is a significant relic from the golden age of railroading and should be preserved.” In 1990, through the efforts of the Preservation Alliance, the Scottsburg Depot was placed on the national Register of Historic Places and a feasibility study was conducted by Mozingo Associates, Architects, Inc. By the fall of 1991, the building g was being dismantled for a move one block north, yet still along the rail line. Through a $462,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation and $115,000 that the City of Scottsburg provided, the old train depot found new life as the Scottsburg Heritage Station. The building was restored with the Preservation Alliance, Inc., overseeing the project. Architect for the project was Robert Kissinger and Associates. Local builder, Mike Guthrie was responsible for the construction and completion of the project. A dedication and swearing in ceremony for a newly elected city and county officials was held on January 1, 1996 in the restored building.
The exterior remains unchanged. Architectural features that were missing have been replaced as has the rich burgundy paint to the exterior boards and batten walls. The interior is still in the
same configuration but today houses the offices of the Scott County Chamber of Commerce and the Scott County Visitors Commission and a community meeting room.
The mid-1800’s were the threshold of a revolution in transportation. No other development in the next several decades has such a far-reaching effects on Indiana. By 1880s, with a network of over four thousand miles of track reaching into almost every county, our state was connected with both the east and west coasts bringing new settlers, breaking down rural isolation, and transforming villages into cities. Such was the case for Scott County and for Scottsburg and the railroad depot witnessed these changes. The clickety-clack of the old rails can still be heard while inside the depot. But now the sound is combined with the sound of building a bright economic future for Scottsburg and its residents. Quoting former Mayor Bill Graham, “Preserving it is a way to pay homage to the City’s heritage, which the railroad helped build. The City of Scottsburg exists because of the old railroad. It was the nucleus of the City.” The adaptive reuse of this structure will help to secure the success of Scottsburg economic future.