It’s amazing how the Daily Light’s “Discover Ellis County: Where Am I?” weekly contest is reminding local residents of their past.
Adrian Vess recently took a trip down memory lane after a photograph of the old train depot in Waxahachie appeared in the contest.
Vess talked with the Daily Light about his memories of serving as a ticket agent there for several years.
“I first moved to Waxahachie in September 1946 and when I first saw the building, it thought it was beautiful,” Vess said, noting the building was built in 1905 by Trinity and Brazos Valley (Boll Weevil Line).
“The building went into bankruptcy in 1914 and it was received by Gen. John A. Hullen,” he said. “By 1930, it was out of bankruptcy and then bought by the Burlington Rock Island Railroad, which operated it until the late 1940s, early 1950s.”
According to Vess, that was the time the name was changed to the Joint Texas Division of the Fort Worth and Denver and Chicago Rock Island and Pacific. Eventually, it was known as the Rock Island Depot.
“I started working there in 1954 and worked there for 12 years,” he said. “The people I worked with there were agent Gordon McDonald, cashier Carl Morris, clerk Elmer Lummus and relief man, D.L. Knox. They are all deceased now but I will never forget them.”
Vess said people can easily view the building’s exterior, but notes they may not realize all of the memories present with its interior.
“The building was divided into four rooms: a designated white waiting room, a ticket agent office, a designated African-American waiting room and a storage room,” he said. “The storage room was the largest room of all where baggage and railroad express was stored. Pretty much anything that needed to be stored was stored there.
“The front of the building had bay windows and I could remember sitting at the telegraph desk one night when a storm hit,” he said. “Other people thought it was tornado that hit but I don’t know. All I know is that whatever it was, it caused the bay window to collapse on the desk and in my lap.”
Although the storm touched down more than five decades ago, the window is still boarded up, he said.
“The bay window that was blown out was where the ticket office was,” he said. “People would come by every Sunday to buy tickets. I can remember selling tickets to a man, his wife and children for about a year and a half, but I never saw them again.”
In 1960, an idea to consolidate Rock Island Depot and the MKT Depot surfaced.
“The negotiation of consolidating both of these operations began in 1960 and then on Sept. 1, 1966, it went into effect,” Vess said. “The depots didn’t consolidate, just the employees.”
Vess still visits the old train depot every so often with great memories still lingering in the back of his mind.
“I will never forget all the memories I have of this place,” he said. “Especially, those four people I worked with.”
Every Monday throughout the summer the Daily Light’s “Where Am I?” contest offers a photo and clue to a new contest. See Page 12 for this week’s contest.
E-mail Chicarra at email@example.com