Blacklands Railroad moves headquarters into old UP depot
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Dec. 7, 2004 -- Blacklands Railroad moved into history this week when the short line railroad shifted its headquarters into the old Union Pacific Railroad depot on North Church Street.

Blacklands manager Wayne Deffebaugh said the move was a big one for the railroad and met the need for additional space.

"There's a lot of history involved with the depot," he said. "We are just happy it came available so we could move into it."

The railroad had been interested in the historic building since beginning shortline operations more than six years ago. That interest finally became a reality this week.

For many years since the demise of the Cotton Belt Railroad, the old depot sat empty and had fallen into disrepair. After being bought by a Dallas resident, the exterior of the building was restored, but the interior remained the same.

Blacklands has added new flooring inside as well as ceiling fans reminiscent of the days when passengers bought tickets and waited for the next train.

The old sea-foam green paint has been replaced with a fresher, brighter hue that lends itself to the atmosphere of the historic building.

In Deffenbaugh's office, windows overlook the railroad tracks, just a few feet away. On the opposite side of the room are ticket windows where passengers once bought their transportation across the country.

The building was purchased from the Union Pacific Railroad in 2002 by Mrs. Jewel Morris of Dallas, who said at the time she was buying the property for her daughter.

Although Mrs. Morris succumbed to cancer last year, renovation work continued on the historic building which, according to Ron Mayer in Union Pacific Railroad's real estate office, was the last piece of property the railroad owned on its east-west line west of Winfield.

Although the railroad is only renting the building for now, there are hopes the depot will eventually be offered for sale.

There is still much work to be done to the building to complete both the renovation and to adapt it to Blacklands' needs. New timber will be laid on the freight dock on the street side of the old depot, and the freight storage space at the west end of the building will be converted into a shop that will enable the railroad to work on its equipment without having to use portable generators and make repeated trips to the previous shop for parts and supplies.

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