Modern Railroad Structures


Every town along every railroad once had a depot, usually of a standard design for that particular railroad, and sometimes quite ornate buildings. These handled freight for the station, passengers, and communication between trains and the dispatcher in the days before radio. With the demise of the passenger train, centralized clerking departments, and instantaneous radio communication the depot became obsolete. Most were razed, a few were preserved, and fewer yet were repurposed as headquarters for maintenance-of-way section crews and local train crews.

These images are of what generally replaced the depot of old (though some are of their repurposing). These structures are usually overlooked as ugly, utilitarian buildings, but some are actually quite interesting, and some are endangered of disappearing, just like the depots they replaced. 

Just as railroads relied on a standardized design for their small town depots I've found that railroads did the same with their section structures. Burlington Northern (now BNSF Railway) relied on a pre-fab metal building painted white with off-green trim. Chicago and Northwestern (now Union Pacific) also used a pre-fab metal design but left unpainted. Soo Line used a tiny, square metal building that was small enough that if one town lost its section headquarters the building could be loaded on a flatcar and moved to a different town (and this was confirmed to me by a former bridge and building worker).