By Thomas Palmer

The days leading up to Christmas in 1900 were exciting ones in Galion.

Not only was the city poised to usher in a new century, but the finishing touches were being added to the community’s newest expression of civic progress – a magnificent railroad depot to serve as the divisional headquarters for the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, affectionately known as the “Big Four.” It was a significant transportation company in the Midwest, with primary routes in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.

The fact that the Erie Railroad joined the Big Four at Galion heightened the importance of this location, as did the presence of substantial rail yards and roundhouses. 

The magazine Railroad Age heralded the arrival of a new depot for Galion, the third in the line’s four-plus decades of operation. “Galion is building a new $20,000 depot,” the article shared, which was to be “124 feet by 52 feet” in size.

The building opened just two days after Christmas. The next day, the Mansfield News Journal shared the following observation: “All modern conveniences at one of the best stations in the state. When will Mansfield have the pleasure of participating in the dedication of a long-needed new depot?”

On January 4, 1901, the Mansfield News Jounral posted this description of opening night at the Big Four Depot:

“Thursday evening, Dec. 27, the new Big Four Depot was dedicated and opened to the public. An occasion which will long be remembered by the people of Galion and vicinity. The rooms were beautifully decorated with holly, smilax and palms. Both the interior and outside were lighted with gas and incandescent lights, which added much beauty to the structure. Despite the inclemency of the weather, the room and platform outside were crowded. The program rendered was excellent. The music was furnished by Dr. Todd’s band. The Big Four officials who were present were the following: Judge S.O. Bayless, C.O. Short, Jacob Archer, Walter P. Deppe, Warren J. Lynch, George W. Killrege, Charles Krotzenberger, Supt. T.J. Higgins, Assistant Superintendent Albert Ingalls and Trainmaster Ed C. Kinney. President Ingalls, having other duties to perform, was unable to be present.”

Albert Ingalls, son of the Big Four President, was a career railroad executive who married the niece of President William Howard Taft. 

The Bucyrus Journal added that that speeches were given and that the deed to the ground was presented by a “citizens committee” to Bayless, who was assistant general counsel for the Big Four.

While the architect of the building has not been confirmed (although there is a candidate for such recognition we may talk about in a future post), the contractor for construction was John King, who also built Galion’s Carnegie Library and the Gill House. The stonework was completed by monument dealer Thomas Longstreth, a family name well known to Galionites to this day.