WALTON — Dozens of people watched as the old Lehigh train depot was moved from First and Blaine streets to its new location along Highway 50 in Walton on Wednesday.
Dean Davis thinks it was around 1975 when his late father, Max Davis, bought the wooden structure.
"My dad was driving by the depot in Lehigh and noticed there was a sign on it for a silent auction," Davis said.
The train station in Walton had been torn down and half of it ended up as a shed for a business in Newton.
"One of the reasons dad wanted the darn thing was that he was always mad that he let the Walton depot get out of Walton," Davis said.
Davis' father won the auction for the Lehigh depot with a bid of $50 and was given 30 days to move it from the property it sat on. Newton House Moving took the building from Lehigh to Walton.
"It had a brick apron all the way around it when it was sitting up there in Lehigh, and us kids picked those up by hand," Davis recalled.
The wooden buildwas covered in layers of paint and needed a new roof since one corner had been blown off by a tornado.
"My mom wanted a restaurant in it," Davis said. "There were a lot more ideas than there was money or energy to get it done."
The depot eventually became a storage space for the items Davis' father collected.
"He filled it up pretty much with antiques and stuff he thought he ought to keep," Davis said.
The Lehigh depot moved again this week after being sold to Bob and Sherri Gerety of Peabody.
Sherri's father and grandfather worked for the Santa Fe Railroad in Topeka.
"The motto in our family was, 'Santa Fe, all the way,'" Sherri Gerety said.
Since the Geretys already owned what used to be the station master house in Walton, acquiring the 1870s depot and moving it next door seemed like a logical step. In its new location, the depot is visible to drivers traveling along Highway 50.
"I figured this would be a great spot," Bob Gerety said.
Unruh House Moving conducted the depot's transportation, with Westar Energy moving power lines out of the way as it went west down Blaine to Third Street, then from Main Street east to First Street and along Highway 50 for a short distance to its new location near the Walton Post Office.
The Geretys plan to start restoring the depot in the spring of 2018 and use it to house an antique store.
"I'm happy that he's going to keep it in Walton," Davis said. "(Dad) was always trying to bring stuff to Walton to make it better."
"It's kind of preserving history and I think it'll be a good thing for Walton to have," Gerety said. "When you're coming from Newton, it'll be very visible. ...You won't be able to miss it."
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