Part of a legacy: Midland Continental Depot is one part of Wimbledon’s historyIn a few weeks visitors to the Midland Continental Depot Museum here will have an opportunity to step into the past and learn about a unique part of railroad history.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
WIMBLEDON, N.D. — In a few weeks visitors to the Midland Continental Depot Museum here will have an opportunity to step into the past and learn about a unique part of railroad history.
On May 26, as part of a larger celebration, the depot will open its doors to visitors as the last standing location along the Midland Continental line.
The rail line was to stretch from Winnipeg, Canada, to Galveston, Texas, and serve the nation as the only north-south transcontinental line. It only ended up stretching 77 miles from Wimbledon to Edgeley, N.D.
The final standing depot in Wimbledon was one of 16 along the 77-mile line. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
Now the entire main floor is designed and remodeled to look like the actual working train depot when it was in its heyday in the early part of the 20th century.
“The whole idea is we’re taking you back in time,” said Mary Beth Orn, treasurer of the Midland Continental Depot Restoration Committee.
The first room upon entering the facility is the general waiting room, now transformed into a top-to-bottom showcase showing the idea and implementation of the north to south transcontinental dream.
A ladies waiting room offered a place for females to wait for the train while avoiding men and their use of the spittoon and foul language, a display reads.
This shows where ladies would have waited along with a map of the towns the train visited. Also included is some information of the Jamestown Depot, and a brief introduction to the most famous Wimbledon native, Peggy Lee.
Orn admits the building showcases two factors: the railroad on the main floor, and a tribute to Peggy Lee upstairs.
However, sprinkled among the depot exhibits are a few Lee tidbits of information, for example, the window she snuck out of for a date, or the phone she used to make calls.
More information on the railroad and Lee is available in the depot agent room, which contains a telegraph, as well as artifacts and information about what a day at the depot was like.
The freight room shows people what was shipped. Most things shipped were agricultural materials, but it also shipped livestock and even passengers for a time.
Throughout the depot visitors are able to listen to sounds and calls from that time, featuring any number of would-be happenings likely to have been in Wimbledon.
While the downstairs is dedicated to the Midland the upstairs features Lee. Orn called it a “showcase for two treasures.”
Orn’s mother, Myrna Bultema, donated $20,000 in her will as seed money for the project. The museum implementation to its current form took about five years.
“People have asked me, ‘do you think your mother would have wanted this big of a project?’ and I can say ‘yes,’” Orn said.
The displays are professionally done by Sea Reach Ltd., and vivid photos fill the lower level along with the interactive displays.
A grand opening will be from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 26, with an open house at the depot museum. The Jamestown Drum and Bugle Corps will provide music at 10:40 a.m. with a program at 11 a.m. and a free picnic at noon.
There is no admission fee but donations are welcome.
At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 25, at the Reiland Center on the campus of Jamestown College, there will be “A Tribute to Miss Peggy Lee,” featuring nationally acclaimed jazz artists Stacy Sullivan, Jon Weber and Steve Doyle.
Advance general admission tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for children at Globe International Travel, Hugo’s and Cork and Barrel in Jamestown. In Valley City they are available the Barnes County Museum and Unique Antiques. Tickets are $20 at the door.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com