The Depot Railroad Museum, Salem, IN: “Your ticket to a pleasant trip”

by Samantha McClellan, Shannon Silva, Andrew Vibbert & Danielle Emerling

A visit to the John Hay Center would not be complete without stopping in to meet Cecil Smith at the Depot Railroad Museum.

Dedicated in 2001, the museum memorializes Salem’s founding role of the New Albany & Salem Railroad (est. 1847) which became the Monon Railroad in 1897. The Monon Railroad operated the “Hoosier Line”, running from Louisville, KY, through Indianapolis, IN, and up to Chicago, IL, until 1971. During that time the Monon served college students from six universities, including Indiana, DePaux and Purdue. (Section #4 of the Hoosier Line stopped right here in Bloomington, IN.) In 1971 the Monon merged with the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, and even today, portions of the railroad are still in service.

The Depot Museum itself is a replica of Salem’s original train station. Inside the museum are well-appointed displays of train memorabilia, including railroad advertisements, equipment and artifacts from the actual passenger cars. The basement houses an impressive model of the Monon Railroad and its route through Washington County complete with scaled replicas of buildings and landmarks as they appeared in the 1950s.

Cecil and his staff are friendly stewards of the museum and Salem’s railroad history. They’re planning to expand the facility in 2013 to include a research center for the archives of Monon Railroad Historical-Technical Society. The Paul Ogle Foundation has awarded The Depot a $200,000 challenge grant for this proposed project, but in order for The Depot to collect these funds, they must raise $50,000.

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Thank you to Cecil Smith and the staff of the Depot Railroad Museum for their time and assistance! Please visit the website for more information or take a look at Cecil’s book, entitled Washington County, Ind. News Beat: Highlights of a Journalist’s 50-Year Career with Pen and Camera. He presented us with a copy to share, so SLIS students can view it in the Info Commons.

This is the first part in a series of posts celebrating American Archives Month. In recognition of both the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences Themester “Making War, Making Peace,” and the Civil War Sesquicentennial, the IU Society of American Archivists Student Chapter is visiting repositories in southern Indiana to highlight materials related to the Civil War.



The Society of American Archivists Indiana University Student Chapter seeks to: *provide a forum to address issues in the archival profession in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. *facilitate a meeting place for students with interests in Archives, Special Collections, Manuscripts, or Personal Papers. *raise awareness about archives and their importance in the university and surrounding community.
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