Russiaville train depot one of few buildings to survive

From the 1965 Palm Sunday Tornado articles series
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Russiaville Train Depot

The Russiaville train depot is one of the few buildings that made it through the Palm Sunday tornado. The building is being restored by the Russiaville Historical Society, seen here on March 27, 2015. Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune

RUSSIAVILLE — The old interurban train station in Russiaville is one of the few buildings left standing in the wake of the Palm Sunday tornado 50 years ago.

With a history dating back to the 1910s, the station was part of the growth of Russiaville.

Between 1912 and 1932, a rail line connected Russiaville with Kokomo, Frankfort and Marion.

Marsha Berry, president of the Russiaville Historical Society, said the track line actually started in Marion and went to Kokomo in 1907 before going through Russiaville and Frankfort after that.

Since the passenger lines halted, the station has been home to freighters, a lumberyard and most recently apartments.

In hopes of bringing back the past, Berry and the members of the Russiaville Historical Society have been transforming the old structure back to its original condition.

Palm Sunday Tornado (2).jpg

1965 Palm Sunday Tornado Russiaville

This 1965 file photo shows an aerial view of damage to Russiaville following the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak.

Along with the feel of a train station, the one-story brick building will be the new home of the Russiaville Historical Society, which will hold the history of the Palm Sunday tornado and other historical pieces.

“The building is important to me,” said Berry. “My grandparents rode on the trolley and I lived there in the ‘80’s.”

“We’re finishing paperwork on the (Office of Community and Rural Affairs) grant and we’re having trees removed from the property,” Berry said.

Volunteers from Western High School will be doing some of the landscape and more volunteers are needed, she added.

"We've replaced missing brick and cleaned the cement work around the windows,” she said of the some of the improvements.

"Some of the windows had to be re-manufactured or replaced completely. We want to have the historically correct windows and have the building restored to its original condition. We hope this will keep people aware of what our heritage is.”

Berry said displays will include scale models of the interurban rail line, highlights of Russiaville’s and Howard County’s origins, clippings from the town’s former newspaper and exhibits detailing the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak that leveled almost the entire town. The interurban station was one of the few buildings that survived the storm.

Mike Fletcher can be reached at 765-454-8565 or by email at mike.fletcher@kokomotribune.com

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