Sunday, February 05, 2012

Snow and another depot

How much snow did we get? Well, maybe two or three inches --- heavy, wet, the most we've had so far this winter. To the west, there was lots more; to the north, quite a bit more. No problems here, other than those caused by how much you forget.

Wear boots! Because of the moisture content, walking in the white stuff was more like wading --- especially in busy slush-filled parking lots. Low-topped shoes were not a good idea.

Landmarks disappear! Even under just a little snow. I went out to the church to shovel a little late in the day. Getting in was fine --- the entrance to the church drive is shared with a busy apartment complex parking lot. Then the church drive half-circles off to the northeast. No problem getting to the church. Leaving was an issue --- no indication of where the driveway was or where it exited onto Highway 14. I'm not sure where I was driving, but it was not the right place.


Driving on to Creston from Osceola Friday, we had a chance to visit briefly one of southern Iowa's grandest rail depots. Built in 1899 at the height of railroad power and influence, it was designed in a renaissance revival style by the Chicago firm of Burnham and Root, favorite archtects of the C.B.&Q.

Built of yellow-glazed pressed brick above a cut stone base and topped by a tile roof, it remains perhaps the most commanding building in Creston where railroading still, in a substantially diminished way, is at the heart of things. (The Union County Courthouse dates from the 1950s and lacks the presence courthouses tend to have in county seat towns).

The Burlington built a new headquarters and depot (Creston is Amtrak's next stop west after Osceola) during the latter half of the 20th century and, in 1974, ownership of the old depot was transferred to the city which restored and redeveloped it. Now, city offices occupy to the second floor (originally offices for rail officials) and part of the first. Congregate meals are headquartered in what once was the freight-handling east end.

The grand waiting room remains largely intact, used as a museum, a gathering space and display area for the Creston Model Railroad Club. It is a wonderful space with terazzo flooring, glazed tile walls and pillars and beautiful woodwork, including a magnificent coffered ceiling.

The building speaks more eloquently than any other I know in southern Iowa of the place railroading once held here --- so it's a great place to visit if you're in Creston.


Some will remember my vagabond cousin Helen, now pushing 90 and grounded two years ago by children and grandchildren who felt she was getting a little old to be roaming the country (and sleeping) in a conversion van. She lives in Utah, but has been hanging out since last fall in Indiana.

Anyhow, Helen took off on her own yesterday from Chciago for a series of flights that took her to Sint Eustatius in the Caribbean to spend a few weeks with a nephew, who winters there. Just can't tie a compulsive traveler down.

No comments: