LONGVIEW, TEXAS—On May 10, 2014—National Train Day—officials from Longview, Amtrak and the East Texas region gathered with residents to dedicate the city’s renovated depot, which originally opened for service in May, 1940. The building, now an intermodal center, includes a passenger waiting room, baggage room, community meeting space and offices for the Union Pacific Railroad and Longview Police Department. The city also hopes to install a cyber café on the main floor.
Dignitaries in attendance included Mayor Jay Dean; Richard Anderson, Chairman, Ark-La-Tex Corridor Council; Peggy Harris, General Manager Passenger Operations, Union Pacific Railroad; and Joseph McHugh, Amtrak Vice President, Government Affairs. Following the ceremony, the depot was open for tours, as was the Amtrak Exhibit Train.
The dedication was held in conjunction with AlleyFest & Historic Depot Days on May 9 and 10. The former is an annual festival featuring live music acts, great food, arts and crafts vendors and a popular kids’ area, while the latter highlights the town’s rich rail heritage. Many activities, including an antique car show and movie showings at the public library, had a 1940s theme in honor of the depot’s opening 74 years ago.
Following years of negotiations with the Union Pacific Railroad, the city of Longview bought the depot and obtained a 20 year lease for the land in 2009 for approximately $129,000. Four years later, the city broke ground on a $2.2 million project to transform the largely empty building.
During the renovation, workers installed new dormers and an open-air waiting room was recreated. In August, 2013, the Hubbard-Watlington Foundation contributed $25,000 to support the restoration and finishing of the open-air patio. Special paving bricks serve to commemorate members of the armed forces and railroaders who have passed through the building over more than seven decades.
The station project was largely funded through a $2.17 million Transportation Enhancement grant from the Federal Highway Administration, matched by $542,000 from the municipality. City officials believe that the rehabilitated depot will spark renewed interest in the surrounding area and thereby encourage economic development in south Longview.