St. Joe Historical Missouri and North Arkansas Depot and Museum
The St. Joe Historical Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad Depot and Museum, which is located in St. Joe (Searcy County), is a repository of railroad and local history. It also serves as an area tourist information center. The museum, which opened in May 2011, is housed in the 1902 Missouri and North Arkansas (M&NA) Railroad depot.
When the M&NA ended area service in 1946, the depot closed after over forty-three years of operation. Over the next few years, the building was used as a church, to provide classrooms for the local school district, and as a feed store. Once the feed store went out of business, the vacant building began to deteriorate into a community eyesore.
A movement to preserve the building began in the 1990s, with the structure being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. As the building remained vacant, concerns for its survival increased. Finally, by the early part of the twenty-first century, a concerned group, recognizing the historical importance of the building, initiated efforts to raise money for its restoration. Restoration work began in June 2009 and was complete enough for viewing by the public in May 2011.
On June 28, 2011, a grand-opening ceremony attended by a large number of visitors was held in the parking lot in front of the depot. Circuit Judge Charles Clawson was the principal speaker at the dedication. The ceremony also included the unveiling of a Civil War Sesquicentennial marker commemorating the January 22, 1864, Skirmish at Tomahawk. The marker is located on the depot grounds.
Supporters continue to collect railroad and local history artifacts for the development of additional exhibits. Plans include the restoration of the long-removed railroad tracks and the platform once located on the front and one end of the building. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., as well as 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. each Saturday. Volunteers are also willing to open the museum at other times on request.
For additional information:
“St. Joe Depot Dedication.” Boone County Historian/Oak Leaves 9(May–August 2011): 25–28.
Wakefield, Jim. “The St. Joe Depot—A Brighter Future.” Boone County Historian/Oak Leaves 7 (July–September 2009): 32–33.
CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas
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