Marion's Central ParkMarion City Library at Historic Santa Fe Depot

Santa Fe Depot (Marion City Library)
101 Library Street
Marion, KS 66861

     The History of the Marion Depot (formerly the Santa Fe Depot) is a simple one yet impressive. Trains have been coming to Marion as early as 1879 - when the first passenger train arrived in town. The hope at that time was that Marion would become a railroad "hub" instead of the branch line that it later became. The original depot was made of wood and was a simple structure that met the needs of the passengers and railroad personnel. The original wooden structure burned in 1908.

     Whether it was the pressure of influential people or the determination of the residents of a small town, or both, the Santa Fe Railroad Company made the decision to construct a large, well-built brick building at a cost of $11,000 in Marion to replace the one destroyed in the fire.  On June 17, 1912, with proud Santa Fe and county officials in attendance, the depot was dedicated and officially opened.  The track that this depot served became the M&M (Marion and McPherson) Line and ran from Florence to Lyons.  With each stop came passengers, some staying in Marion, and much needed merchandise, as well as exporting local products to other destinations.  Called the "Doodlebug" this two-car motor train ran the route between Florence and Lyons until May 17, 1952.

The building sat unoccupied for many years and then was owned by numerous individuals for different purposes including a youth center and the last use being a flour mill.  When it became available for sale in 1998, the City Commission decided to purchase it with the hope of restoring it for future use by the community.  At that time, the commission decided to allow the Marion Chamber of Commerce office to relocate there.  Previously, the office was in the City Building.

This building also became used for community meetings and tours. The community became aware of the need to restore this building and became involved in the decision-making process.

In 1999, the decision was made to apply for a grant to restore and renovate the Santa Fe Depot into the new facility for the Marion City Library which was currently in the City Building.

According to statistics from the Branch Connections in Kansas, the growth of Marion County in the 1870's and 1880's was due to the railroad.  Marion County was formed in 1865.  In 1860 the population was 74; by 1870, the population grew to 768; 1875 - 5,907; 1878 - 8,306; and 1880 - 12,457.

Not only did these rail cars import and export goods, they also imported residents, business owners, farmers, ranchers - the development of the cities and rural communities were due to the railroad and the depots that served these routes.

With this history known and appreciated, it supports the importance of this depot building and the impact it had on the development of the Marion community.  And now, many years later, this small community is once again coming together to preserve, protect and enhance this building.