The old Rock Island Depot don't get much respect these days. For one thing, it's just over the brow of a hill at the east end of Court Avenue and invisible from Highway 14 (North 7th Street), a block west. For another, it's been half a century and more since passengers and freight arrived here, or departed.
Now used by the Union Pacific as a kind of maintenance outpost, it is surrounded this weekend by heavy equipment, trucks, a bus and --- on a rickety siding --- a work train.
But if there ever was a time to show the fine old building and the tracks beside it a little love --- this would be the year to do it. The first scheduled Rock Island train rolled into Chariton from the north during July of 1913 and stopped at the brand new depot, completed during June. So it's a centennial year.
Work on the 60-mile stretch of the Rock Island line that connected Carlisle to the north and Allerton to the south had commenced during 1911. The link provided the Rock with a direct connection linking the Twin Cities and Kansas City. It also facilitated exploitation of coal reserves under Lucas and Marion counties and helped to fuel a booming coal industry.
Construction changed the face of Chariton --- more than 60 houses were demolished or relocated in the east part of town so that the cuts followed by tracks through town could be made. These cuts were, in their time, a huge project. It is unlikely the Hotel Charitone, completed during 1923, would have been built had not the town square been half way between the busy C.B.&Q. Depot to the northwest and the new Rock Island Depot to the southeast.
Here's a post from January of 2012 that provides more information about the depot. There's a Flickr slideshow here that incorporates more of the photographs taken at that time.
Six months later, during August of 2012, Union Pacific Locomotive 844 made a brief stop at the depot while on a whirlwind tour of the Midwest. You can read more about that visit here or see a slideshow incorporating more photographs here.
Finally, here's Lead Belly (Huddie William Ledbetter) performing "Rock Island Line," an American folk song he launched toward popularity during 1937.