Nevada County Depot and Museum
The Nevada County Depot and Museum, founded in 1976, is the only museum in Nevada County. Located in the 1912 Iron Mountain Railroad Depot in downtown Prescott (Nevada County), it is a non-profit organization that preserves and promotes the history of Nevada County.
In 1968, passenger service from the Prescott Depot was suspended by the successor to the Iron Mountain Railroad, the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The City of Prescott purchased the building and its adjoining parking lots from the Missouri Pacific in 1970 for one dollar. Over the next two years, the building was used for a variety of purposes, but the noise of passing trains soon forced the city simply to use the depot for storage.
During the 1972 Prescott Centennial celebration, several museum exhibits were set up in the depot, and excursion trains stopped in Prescott for the first time in years. It was during the centennial that a group of local citizens formed an organization to create a state park at the Prairie D’Ane battlefield. The depot served as the headquarters of the Nevada County State Park Association, as the group was known.
In 1976, the Prescott Chamber of Commerce moved into the building, and John Teeter became the first curator as several exhibits were installed. A replica of a pioneer cabin and some Civil War artifacts were among the first exhibits. In 1977, the Nevada County Historical Society successfully nominated the depot for placement on the National Register of Historic Places, and it was placed on the register on November 17, 1978.
The Nevada County State Park Association was also incorporated in 1978, and, in 1982, it became a non-profit organization tasked with keeping the museum open to the public, while at the same time furthering its goal of bringing a state park to Prairie D’Ane. Over the next two decades, current and former Nevada County residents continued to donate items to the museum, which eventually expanded its collection to include more than 5,000 pieces. The Prescott Chamber of Commerce moved to a new location, and this allowed the museum to utilize the entire depot.
In 1992, the depot received a grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program for repairs and renovations. This was followed by a grant in 2000 from the Arkansas Highway Commission. In January 2002, the depot was closed to the public, and renovations began. The building’s exterior was restored to appear as it did in the 1940s, while the interior was similarly restored but with modern updates to help the building function as a state-of-the-art museum.
The work was approved by the City of Prescott in November 2002, and new exhibits were installed in the building. Teeter retired from the curatorial position after serving for more than twenty-five years, and a new curator was hired to operate the museum. The name of the association supporting the museum was also changed to the Nevada County Depot and Museum to reflect its mission more accurately.
The museum has permanent exhibits on the early history of Nevada County, the Civil War battles fought in the area, and the history of the railroad in Nevada County. Part of the Randolph P. Hamby photography collection of daily life in Nevada County from the 1930s and 1940s is displayed on a rotating basis, and the museum also houses an area archive open to researchers.
On February 23, 2018, an acquisition ceremony was held to present the deed for the 808 acres of the battlefield at Prairie D’Ane to the Nevada County Depot and Museum. The battlefield had formerly been in private hands.
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