LINDEN, Ind. (WLFI) -- The Linden Depot Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Before it was a museum, the facility stood as a full functioning train station, transporting people across the midwest. Nov.16 kicks off the museum’s annual Christmas open house and this year they’ve built a steam engine from scratch.
Elizabeth Hendrickson, Linden Depot Museum Vice President said the steam engine is called the Lafayette and is a full size replica of the original Lafayette train built in 1837. There are no surviving original Lafayette steam engines but there are two other replicas in two different museums in the United States. She said this particular train marks the beginning of the steam engine era, that's why it was important for the museum to have it displayed.
“We picked that engine because that engine put together a lot of the best ideas of steam engines that were available at the time,” said Hendrickson.
Although the train on display at the museum isn’t complete, it has enough pieces to stand as a model for what the real train looked like.
“We now have enough of the major parts that it actually looks like a steam engine and we just this week had the smoke stack welded to it and that was kind of the final big piece if you want to call it that,” said Hendrickson.
More than 200 years ago, Indiana adapted the steam engine from states using them on the east coast. That adaption had a lasting effect on the state.
“Without the beginning of those steam engines, we would not have trains out here,” said Hendrickson.
Building the steam engine took 8 months and Hendrickson says building a full size replica takes a lot of research.
“It's not the easiest thing you can't just click on Amazon.com and expect to find parts for a steam engine,” said Hendrickson. “We're able to obtain sketches from the original and extrapolate the missing dimensions and figure out what size everything needed to be,” she added.
Hendrickson said many of the local metal fabricators have been very generous in working with the museum on this project. She says throughout the year they will continue adding to the train, attaching a tender and a passenger car behind it.
Hendrickson said many pieces in the museum are donated items and she hopes the community continues donating and showing interests in learning about historic landmarks in the community.
“It’s important that we keep museums so that people can learn about history.The further away we get from where things started, the more important it is to keep it so that we can remember back to the origins of the trains,” said Hendrickson.
The Christmas Open House is every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. starting Nov. 16 through the last weekend of December.
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