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Help save the depot in Canton

Fri, May 2nd, 2014
Posted in Canton Features

Some locals still remember the time when trains ran through Canton. Unfortunately not much remains of the railroad these days except for the memories and history preserved by those who have taken an interest and the old depot building.

The depot is currently owned by Larry Huber, a train enthusiast from Los Angeles. He learned about the depot through a railroad magazine and has some ties to the area. Canton was notable as one of the last narrow gauge rails. Huber bought the depot and after making some roof repairs started looking for people in Canton to start a historical society.

The Canton Historical Society is in its third year and currently has about 40 members. They staff the Mitson Museum and have videotaped senior citizens sharing memories of Canton, but their main project has been restoring the depot.

Huber has agreed in writing to transfer the depot to the Historical Society once they have the necessary tax shelter. After a lengthy process, the Historical Society recently acquired the necessary non-profit organization tax exempt status.

As the depot is expected to be turned over in the near future, the Historical Society is ready to create a plan for the future of the building. The Canton Historical Society met with members of the Canton City Council and members of the community on April 14 to discuss plans for restoring the depot.

The meeting was a brainstorming session during which everyone present was asked to contribute ideas for the potential uses and needs of the depot. Some recurring ideas included restoring the building to original, having a museum of Canton and narrow gauge rail history, and ways to include contributions and donations from the community. There was also discussion about structural work that will need to be done before any other renovation can begin. One of the first steps will be lifting and moving the building aside while the foundation is redone. A plan will need to be developed before many decisions about the building can be made and before fundraising can start in earnest.

There is a long track ahead for the depot and the Historical Society would like to get as many people involved as possible. If you are interested in Canton or trains or history, or if you just like sharing your opinion, this is a great opportunity to get involved. Contact Kathie Haynes, President of the Canton Historical Society at (507) 743-8338 or the City Clerk’s office at (507) 743-5000 if you would like to be included in future meetings and mailings.

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