Historic Train Depot Rises in Front Yard

By Eric Olson

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 24, 2008 at 1:41 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter)--IF YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR THE SOUL OF A TOWN YOU MIGHT LOOK AT ITS CHURCHES, BUT DON’T STOP THERE…NOT UNTIL YOU’VE WALKED THROUGH ITS TRAIN DEPOT. FOR GENERATIONS THIS WAS A TOWN’S WINDOW ON THE WORLD, ITS CONNECTION WITH LONG DISTANCE AND EXOTIC JOURNEYS. THERE WAS A TIME WHEN NEARLY EVERY GREAT ADVENTURE, BEGAN AT THE TRAIN DEPOT.

Wes: This building really represents not only railroad history but the history of Fort Jennings, Putnam County..

BY THE BANKS OF THE LITTLE AUGLAIZE RIVER A PIECE OF BUCKEYE HISTORY IS TAKING SHAPE…THIS IS THE FORT JENNINGS TRAIN DEPOT LOOKING MORE EACH DAY AS IT DID WHEN IT WAS BUILT IN 1917. THIS DEPOT SERVED THE PEOPLE OF FORT JENNINGS UNTIL 1970, WHEN IT WAS MOVED TO A FARM FIELD AND LEFT TO ROT. ENTER A SAVIOR…

Wes: There’s something from beyond time that speaks to you when you come into this building..

WESLEY KLIR GREW UP IN FORT JENNINGS. HE DOESN’T REMEMBER THE DEPOT BUT HE LOVES TRAINS..A LOVE HE INHERITED FROM HIS DAD, JOE..

Wes: He had model trains and these were his Christmas gifts every year when he was a kid. Every year we’d bring those out and set those up out around the tree and he’d let us run them and that was just a great great memory of a great time.

WES DISCOVERED THE OLD DEPOT WHILE OUT JOGGING ONE DAY..TALKED HIS DAD INTO HELPING HIM DISMANTLE IT, BOARD BY BOARD, AND MOVE IT ON TO HIS PROPERTY..

Wes: They’re all numbered to correspond to each board that is up here so they go back in the right spot.

BUT LAST FALL JOE DIED SUDDENLY. WES LOST INTEREST IN THE PROJECT…UNTIL HIS WIFE REMINDED HIM THAT IT WAS HIS DAD’S PROJECT TOO. SO CONSTRUCTIONS’S RESUMED. WHEN IT’S COMPLETE THE LITTLE JENNINGS DEPOT WILL LOOK EXACTLY AS IT DID IN ITS HEYDAY, WITH JOE’S EXTENSIVE MODEL TRAIN COLLECTION SET UP IN THE BASEMENT..ALL OF IT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Wes: To offer kids an opportunity to come in and learn about history and they love watching trains run so it’ll represent that too. And it also speaks to me about my dad, too, ‘cause every time I’m in here I think of him.

ERIC OLSON REPORTING OUT IN ‘YOUR COUNTRY’.




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