Santa Fe Depot

You are standing at the traveler’s entrance of the Santa Fe Depot.  Prior to the brick building you see now, a large wooden depot stood here on the exact same foundation footprint.  It had been built at the time of the city’s founding in the year eighteen-eighty-eight.  This wooden depot building greeted the Disney’s when they moved from Chicago in April of nineteen-oh-six.

Flora Disney arrived first with Roy, Walt, and Ruth.  Elias Disney and the 2 older sons, Herbert and Raymond, followed a few days later in a boxcar loaded with the family belongings along with 2 horses Elias had bought in the Chicago stockyards. 

When the Disney family moved on to Kansas City in nineteen-eleven, the wooden Santa Fe depot was still here to say good-bye.  The building would be moved not long afterwards to allow for the construction and opening of the brick depot.

On April tenth, Nineteen-thirteen, the new Santa Fe passenger station and office building was dedicated.  It was described as a cold drizzly day, but this did not dampen the celebration for the unveiling of what was a monument to Marceline progress.  Marceline was in only its twenty-fifth year and it now had a train station that was one of the best in the United States.  The magnificent building boasted one-hundred-seven windows and over two-hundred one-hundred-watt electric lights.  It was a city-wide celebration and every building in town was decorated for the event.  The public was given an open-house tour of the building and the famous Dodge City Orchestra played in the waiting room throughout the afternoon. 

In the early nineteen-hundreds the railroad constructed a separate building called the “Reading Room”, where Santa Fe employees could go to play piano or read books. Small concerts were given there as well.  In a nineteen-oh-nine Santa Fe railroad workers magazine, the Marceline Reading Room was famous for its flower garden.  From time to time, special performances were given there, under an agreement that the Santa Fe had with performers travelling between Chicago and Los Angeles.  If the performers agreed to stop and put on a show in Marceline, their travel would be free.  Thus, the small town of Marceline was treated to appearances by Shirley Temple, Mae West, W.C. Fields, and Clark Gable.   The Reading Room in Marceline no longer existed by the nineteen-forties.

The Marceline Santa Fe depot was closed up in the nineteen-eighties, with the last passenger train stopping in Marceline in nineteen-ninety-six.  The depot stood forlorn and empty until nineteen-ninety-nine, when it was bought from the Santa Fe railroad.  It was subsequently renovated and converted into the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, which opened in two-thousand-and-one. 

The adjacent garden area is a memorial to Rush Johnson, who was a prominent Marceline businessman.  Rush and his wife Inez founded the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.  The garden is a nice place to relax and watch trains go by.