Published November 2011
The wonderful Santa Fe Depot Museum in San Angelo almost didn’t happen. The old dilapidated passenger and freight depot at 703 South Chadbourne in San Angelo, Texas, was destined to be torn down. Some interested souls who didn’t want that to happen got busy in 1993 and decided to save it. The City of San Angelo was the party to finally accept the building from the Santa Fe Railroad as the original group was not a non-profit organization, and time was ticking on the old building. After the Depot was preserved, there were several suggestions as to what should be done with it.
David Wood, the current president of the museum said, “Some people wanted to make it an art gallery while others wanted to divide it into office space to be rented. Finally the group decided to develop it into a railroad museum, and it opened officially in 1996.”
The Historic Orient/Santa Fe Depot, Inc., the official name of the railway museum, tells about the formation and development of railroad lines through San Angelo and this story has many twists and turns. When the first train made its way puffing down the Santa Fe tracks to San Angelo on September 30, 1888, thousands of people turned out for a two day celebration. San Angeloans partied and paraded as they witnessed the train’s appearance. By 1908, a depot was built at Fourth Street and Chadbourne Street.