Monday, October 20, 2014

New exhibit explores Ottawa railroad ties

By The Herald Staff | 3/20/2013

Railroad history is expected to pull back into the station this weekend with a new exhibit at the Old Depot Museum.

The museum, 135 W. Tecumseh St., Ottawa, is itself housed in a former AT&SF passenger depot built in 1888. It will be the scene of the exhibit “Workin’ on the Railroads,” which opens 10 a.m. Saturday.

Railroad history is expected to pull back into the station this weekend with a new exhibit at the Old Depot Museum.

The museum, 135 W. Tecumseh St., Ottawa, is itself housed in a former AT&SF passenger depot built in 1888. It will be the scene of the exhibit “Workin’ on the Railroads,” which opens 10 a.m. Saturday.

Ottawa’s railroad ties go back more than a century. Once known as a railroad town, it was a division point on the Santa Fe Railroad with tracks of the Missouri Pacific passing each other.

“Who worked for the railroads in Ottawa? Where did they live? What were their jobs?” a press release from the Franklin County Historical Society, which maintains the Old Depot Museum, read. “One job was listed as ‘fire knocker.’ Another was ‘flue borer.’ What were these jobs that earned a living and a cottage on the north side of the Marias des Cygnes River?”

One part of the Ottawa exhibit concerns Mexican-American section gang workers. The historical society gathered information and photos of these workers several years ago for another project. Now the artifacts help to tell this story about a town where everyone came from the wrong side of some track, the historical society said.

The exhibit runs Saturday through May 5. A public reception is planned for April 28.

“Workin’ on the Railroads” was designed as a partner display with “The Way We Worked” exhibit at the Lumberyard Arts Center, 718 High St., Baldwin City. The display in Baldwin City is part of the Smithsonian’s “Museums on Main Street” program.

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