Right next to the railroad tracks in David City, you can find the Butler County Museum. In another life, the museum was the town's train depot. "The building was built in 1915, and served as a railroad station until 1969, so it's well over 100 years old now," Butler County Historical Society member Jim Reisdorff said. When you go inside the depot, you can almost feel the past. "The Burlington depot here was one of three railroads that served the community, and this station was located on the line between Lincoln and Columbus. They had a passenger train going back and forth between the two cities most every day," Reisdorff said.
In the depot, you can see the old benches where people might have waited for passengers or freight to arrive. And there's the old ticket windows. It's still a solid building. "The building is built with concrete, and those trains vibrate, but this building has stood up well over the last 100 years," Butler County Historical Society member Jacque Masek said. The depot was converted to a museum in 1973 at the time of David City's Centennial. For 45 years, it's served as a museum for the county.
"In recent years the membership has dwindled, as older members retired or passed away, so for the past few years, the building had been largely inactive," Reisdorff said. Recently, residents have answered the call to get the museum going again. A concerted effort has been made through donations and grants to make improvements, like better environmental controls. "We've made repairs to the windows and to the floors here, so again, it's very much able to have people come here and look through it," Reisdorff said.
And there is much to see in the museum. The baggage room, and some of the freight rooms still exist, and everywhere you look there are artifacts from the county.
"We have lots of pictures of people who were from Butler county and the families have donated the pictures to us," Masek said. "We have lots of county books to go through, clothes, an old telephone in the back. We have a G.A.R. flag from the civil war which is really cool, and above the door we have an 1868 flag from Butler County that was handmade in Butler County," Masek said. One item that visitors like to see at the museum is a pencil collection. It's an amazing amount of pencils. It's not quite clear how many pencils there are there could be up to 1000.
"We have books from 1966 of things that have been donated to the Butler County Historical Society, and now with the computer system we've gotten, we can take pictures of it and catalog it and put it so it's digital, so it's a little bit easier to find," Masek said.
The money for that computer was donated through Frontier Coop. That's just one example of how the community is working to make sure the history housed here isn't lost. One goal now is to create future displays that would rotate every couple of months. That's to ensure the exhibits are fresh and to encourage people to visit more than once a year.