Editor’s Note: For 60 days, we’re sharing some of the most identifiable images of the Parkland. The daily series began July 14.
While the familiar red-bricked Bismarck railroad depot was constructed in 1917, the coming of the railroad happened much earlier.
As early as 1858 the wood-smoking locomotives of the Iron Mountain Railroad made its way through the wilderness to Pilot Knob.
On June 9, 1877, the town of Bismarck was incorporated and, with completion of the Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad from Bismarck to Charleston, continued to grow.
As the main line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and the western terminus of the Missouri-Illinois Railroad, the town also served as the connecting point for the Belmont branch of the Missouri Pacific.
By the late 1990s, the old railroad depot was in a state of complete disrepair. A five-member Bismarck Depot Preservation Committee was formed in 2002, with plans to return it to its former glory.
The restoration effort for the Bismarck Depot got a big shot in the arm when in 2007 the committee received a $145,125 grant through the Transportation Enhancement Program. Along with the required local contribution, the grant totaled $195,125.
Today the restoration project is nearly complete. The depot is used for various civic functions, including the monthly board of aldermen meeting. It also serves as a reminder of how the railroad helped to build the city of Bismarck from the ground up.