Gailon: New Jewel on the Big Four

By Giles Kennedy

Chief Editor and Founder The Ohio Railroader Website

Chief Administrator Ohio Valley Rails FB Page

History and Restoration Timeline per the City of Galion, Ohio website

http://www.galion.city/347/Galion-Big-Four-Depot

“The Big Four Depot opened in 1900 and served as division headquarters for the Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, and St. Louis Railroad. Peak passenger usage occurred during and after World War I, when approximately 32 trains per day stopped there. It was also a whistle stop for presidential candidates, including Al Smith (1928), Franklin Roosevelt (1932), Dwight Eisenhower (1952), and Richard Nixon (1952). The depot officially closed its doors in 1969 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

After several owners, the City of Galion acquired the property in 2000 with help from the Freese Foundation. Some restoration work on the building was started but never finished. In 2015, the city worked with a consultant to energize a new restoration effort.

For those walking the depot grounds, a self-guided tour is set up: 

  • Using a smart phone, text the word “Railroad” to 567-241-0541. For standard cell phones, text “Railroad1” to the same number.
  • You will receive text messages and photos related to depot and local rail history. Just follow the prompts in the messages to complete the tour.
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Rehabilitation Plan

In 2017, the City of Galion received a Certified Local Government Grant from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office to create a Master Plan to rehabilitate the building. The historic architecture firm Chambers, Murphy and Burge, based in Akron, was hired to draft the Master Plan. The firm conducted a physical assessment of the current conditions, developed a re-use plan based on proposed end uses, and prepared cost estimates.

The Master Plan went through several draft phases and a review by SHPO. The final report was issued on July 20, 2018. The report is available here.

Building Rehabilitation

In early 2019, the City contracted with Quality Masonry to make repairs to the exterior shell of the building on the track side, as well as sections of the roof. More than 40 windows were also replaced or repaired. The track side of the building was then painted from end to end.

In 2020, windows and painting on the first floor exterior was completed. In addition, original stain glass in the lobby windows was uncovered and found to be mostly in tact. This glass was restored.”

Personal Perspective and Depot Day

Upon meeting Carol Kable; Friends of the Big Four President, Matt Echelberry and many others of the group…I knew one thing.

All were passionate about getting the Big Four Depot open to the public.

The attendance for the last August 2020 date of Depot Day was 100 plus people through a span of couple hours.

“We wish to have more dates available to the public, ” volunteer Matt Echelberry responded; “But with the recent pandemic, it got derailed. We were so glad to hold this event today. We hope to have more events in the future.”

Carol Kable was just as dedicated to make sure this goal would happen as well. She was engaged with practically every visitor stopping by ( obeying State of Ohio COVID 19 standards, while doing this).

The shelter house allowed open air displays including models of former New York Central structures nearby, memorabilia and artifacts.

It is the hope of the Friends of the Big Four to gain a tenant in the future. They also wish to gain funds to provide modern HVAC systems to allow both tenants and visitors to feel comfortable year round.

This would also allow more restoration efforts; especially to the second floor. It is in future plans to have a possible museum space; if funds and support allows.

The community; just in the short time, have made this building a new light in the Galion/Crawford County area.

If you wish to visit or see updates on the property; please visit their FB page for details….

https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfTheGalionBigFourDepot/
FB Page Link

Any support, inquiries for future events or space rental can be reach by their FB page or USPS mail

Friends of the Bog Four Depot

P.O. Box 43

Gailon, Ohio 44833

You call also call (419)-989-2408 for other inquiries.

I am very grateful to able to see the Big Four Depot. I hope to return in the near future to spread the word on the Gem on the Big Four Line.

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