GALLIPOLIS — A group of Gallipolis locals are attempting to turn the old freight depot in the 800 block of Third Avenue into a museum celebrating the history of southeastern Ohio railroads.
Jim Love, of Gallipolis, approached Gallipolis City Commission on Tuesday to ask if it would be possible that a group he is affiliated with could acquire the depot.
“There’s a lot of history in the train station,” Love said. “It’s a freight house. It was built in 1901 by Hocking Valley. It’s 115 years old. I worked there as a telegraph operator some years ago. There’s a group of us who got together and said, ‘Hey, let’s not let that deteriorate anymore. Let’s see if we can buy it, restore it and call it the Gallipolis Train Station Museum.’”
Group members looked at the building closely. They claim the overhang and the roof are the main points showing rot that need repairs. Love said the building itself is in good shape. Love claims that with the help of a construction group, it would cost around $25,000 to replace the overhang and roof.
“The overhang is where they unloaded box cars and freight many years ago,” Love said.
According to Love, Hocking Valley Scenic Railway will help the group find old railway cars and other forms of railroad history, as well as finding track.
“The generation now has no idea about trains,” Love said. “There are many of us (group members) that have railroad memorabilia to put in there, operating layouts and various things to interest the kids. We’d like to get a box car and make that into a place where people can bring their kids and have a birthday party and indoctrinate them into what went on many years ago on the railroad.”
Love said it may take four to five years to renovate the building into a usable state. Love said his group is interested in trying to buy the building. He said several of the group members had drawn up bylaws and gathered research to present to show they were serious about the endeavor.
Love said the group will have $25-a-year dues to help with function and costs.
Once the freight house is repaired to a workable condition, Love said the group would like to get it on the National Historic Registry.
Commissioners appeared receptive to Love’s request. They agreed further details would need to be discussed. Commissioners said that if the property were sold to the railway group, they may also need an attached agreement that if the project does not get off the ground, it may revert back to city ownership.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.