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Train depot saved for future generations

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 9:50 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - We are re-discovering how the local chapter of Future Business Leaders of America worked hard to save the train depot in Pleasanton.

“The Depot was built in 1890, and it was built before the Union Pacific guidelines on how depots were to be built,” former Pleasanton business teacher and FBLA sponsor Corliss Dixon said. The train depot is unique in a number of ways. For example, it’s never been moved from its original foundation. And, when you step inside, you feel like you’ve stepped back to 1890. The floor is original from the time period. “You can see all of the freight that would have come through here, all of the marks and the gaps,” Dixon said. “It’s kind of a pain to clean with all of those gaps, but I think it’s very neat, and the walls and the ladder, they all have a little character to them. You can see cracks where things were broken during the years. You can see where stoves sat, and visualize what life was like then.”

After years of flooding along the rail line, the railroad decided to no longer come to Pleasanton. “So from ’47 on, or in that area, it sat empty,” Dixon said. “The city used it to store possibly their fire equipment, maintainers and different things.”

In 2005, some Pleasanton students decided to save the building. Justin Albers was one of the students interested in the project. “I can’t take full ownership of this whole thing,” Albers said. “I guess I thought of it, but then asked my other peers what their thoughts were, too, and the ball got rolling at that point.” It quickly became a service project for the Future Business Leaders of America chapter at Pleasanton High School.

“The Great Plains Historical Railroad Society helped us a lot,” Dixon said. “A group of their members came up and talked to our town board, and talked to the kids, and pretty much persuaded us that the depot was worth saving.”

The students met with engineers, boards and architects. “They were granted a transportation enhancement grant,” Dixon said. But not long after that, red tape stalled the project. “The Governor, and some of our representatives, all wrote letters and got the kids going again. It was finally finished in 2012.”

It turns out that the depot project earned local FBLA students some big awards at the state and national level. “They won state or got second at state each year, and twice they went to nationals,” Dixon said. “They received third at nationals in Nashville, and then returned to Chicago for nationals, and they got first in the nation with their community service project at that time.”

Many students were involved with the project over the years, and a passion for saving the depot is what earned them numerous awards. “We cared so much for the project,” Albers said. “That is what helped, and you can tell that by the way we portrayed it in our presentation.” Dixon said the students learned a great deal from the project. “They had to deal with so many aspects of red tape of our government,” Dixon said. “Their communication skills and soft skills were phenomenal.”

Now as the completed depot stands in the Pleasanton city park, those involved with its restoration can be proud they never gave up to save a piece of local history.

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