HALSTEAD — The Halstead Historical Society hosted around 100 people on the lawn outside the Halstead Heritage Museum on Tuesday evening. The event marked 100 years since the construction of the Halstead depot.
"We always have an ice cream social once a year in September, so we thought we'd have a birthday party," said Carolyn Williams, recording secretary for the Halstead Historical Society.
Halstead resident Helen Collins, who said her husband worked more than 40 years for the railroad, brought a cake topped with an image of the depot for the party.
"The depot's 100 years old, and so I thought we ought to have a birthday cake for it," Collins said.
Cupcakes, cookies and homemade ice cream were served to those who came to the depot and Collins saved the cake from being cut so that Halstead Health and Rehab residents could see and eat it.
Stories were shared of train rides people had taken over the years.
"I graduated from the Bentley grade school in 1958, and we were about the last class to be able to take a eighth grade trip," said Richard Basore. "Even then we couldn't get on at Halstead, we had to get on at Newton."
Basore said students spent the summer gathering newspapers for recycling and gleaning corn fields to pay for the trip to Topeka and Kansas City.
"Flying was for ladies in white gloves and people with lots of money," Basore said. "It was a big deal to fly — and it was a big deal to take the train."
Articles from The Harvey County Independent noted that the depot was built of brick with a tile roof and cost $25,000. It was dedicated in December 1917.
Attendees viewed a display of historic information about the construction and dedication of the building, which was the fourth depot built in Halstead, according to depot archives. The first depot in Halstead was a two-story wooden structure that burned down in July 1883. Two other one-story wooden buildings were also built before the brick building was constructed.
The depot ceased being used by the Santa Fe railroad in the early 1970s and sat empty until the Halstead Historical Society purchased it in March of 1992. After they bought it, the roof was replaced, brick decking was repaired, the interior and exterior of the depot was stripped and repainted in its original colors and the building was renovated into a museum.
Basore noted the previous depots were located on the west side of Main Street. When the brick depot was built, the decision was made to locate it on the east side of Main Street so that the train would not impede traffic on the road when it stopped in town.
Basore remembers seeing trains simultaneously going east and west on the tracks in Halstead.
"This was a double track through here up until 1965," Basore said. "It was a double track all the way to Hutchinson, then they pulled it back all the way to Newton."
The Halstead Heritage Museum is open from 2 to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday or by appointment at 116 E. First in Halstead. For more information, visit http://historicalsociety.halsteadkansas.com. To schedule a tour, call Carolyn Williams at 316-830-2844 or Helen Collins at 316-835-2475.