Above: Former Santa Fe Depot in 1979
1915-era Baggage Tag
The Eagle Lake Santa Fe depot continued to serve passenger and freight customers throughout two world wars. As happened throughout the U.S., passenger travel declined markedly after 1945 and passenger service on the Santa Fe Matagorda District ended in 1956. The depot continued to serve as a freight agency for another 14 years.
The Santa Fe closed the depot building in downtown Eagle Lake in 1970. However, an agent is listed in "Eagle Lake" and the station number remains 8918 in the Santa Fe Official Lists through 1982. Retired employees have stated the railroad stopped using the Eagle Lake Santa Fe depot, and instead used a small building at Lakeside, TX. The Santa Fe depot was eventually sold by the railroad and been in private hands ever since.
The depot was purchased in the summer of 2000 and restoration to its "railroad appearance" began shortly thereafter.
Above: Former Santa Fe Depot in 1999
Above: "Before" (2000) and "After" (2005) Photos of the Agents Office
Fortunately, in it's 30 years after being sold by the railroad, the former Santa Fe depot changed very little from an architectural standpoint - making it an excellent candidate for restoration. None of the original light fixtures remained and the only three pieces of the original furniture - operator's desk, partial cabinet, and pigeon-hole parcel rack - were still with the structure. The original blueprints were found in the archives of the Santa Fe museum in Temple, and those were used to recreate the built-in cabinets and drawers in the agent's office. Therefore, nearly everything used in railroad service that visitors find in the restored depot has been brought in since 2000.
From the exterior perspective, some wood replacement and painting were primary elements of restoration. The major issue was shoring up the roof substructure - which meant removing each clay tile, fixing the wood work, and then replacing the tiles (90% or more were reused and the remainder replaced with period originals).
Clay roofing tiles stacked and ready for installation in November, 2005.
Early morning view August, 2014.