Thomson Depot Museum

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Who We Are

The Thomson Burlington Depot was built in the late 1800's shortly after the completion of the Burlington Track between Fulton and Savanna in 1886. The wooden frame building is typical of the style used by the C.B. and Q . In small villages and towns throughout Illinois during those early days of railroad expansion. It is the last of it's kind in Carroll County.

In the early years of the village, the depot was the hub of activity and commerce. An earlier settlement called Bluffville was located a few miles away, but with the coming of the railroad in the 1860's, settlers moved their homes and shops closer to the tracks and Thomson was founded.

The railroad provided a market for melons, grain, and cattle. The railroad brought the mail and the news, as well as being the primary mode of long distance transportation in those pre-automobile days. As late as the 1940's, regular passenger trains still picked up in Thomson and box cars filled with Thomson watermelons were shipped to the cities. After the second World War, with declining rail travel and improved highways, more automobiles and trucks, the Burlington closed the Thomson Depot doors.

The depot was saved primarily through the efforts of the depot committee of the Thomson Chamber of Commerce and several local residents and former residents who through their labor and contributions made it possible to buy the building and restore it. In May of 1986 the depot was moved to a location 100 feet East of the original site. In 1989 an annex was constructed containing additional space for exhibits and public restrooms.

Restoration and repairs to the depot have included a new roof, replacement of window glass, complete painting inside and out, and the rebuilding of the original wood divider between the waiting room and the ticket agent's office.

Outside the building the ground has been leveled, trees removed, and a brick sidewalk in the Herring bone pattern is laid with original Purlington Pavers that once made up the depot platform. A museum sign has been erected on main street in front of the building. The sign welcomes all who travel by, "to visit the Thomson Depot Museum."

The old freight room contains many items of local historic significance donated to the depot including: old photographs, newspapers, land grants, original village post office boxes, bank tellers window, school display, patriotic display, and village store display.