Posted by: Brad Nixon | April 4, 2020

Restored: Springfield, Oregon Railroad Depot

Travel blogging is, in a sense, armchair travel, even for the blogger. The exception is travel bits posted live, in the moment. For me, a travel blog post is something composed once I’m home, have an opportunity to compile notes, research additional information and select photos. It’s a memory, recalling an in-person experience.

Time to Catch Up

The current hiatus in travel during this Covid 19 pandemic provides an opportunity to catch up on some sites and sights I’ve previously not covered. Today, one of my casual interests: old train stations. This one’s in Springfield, Oregon.

Springfield station Brad Nixon 4564 680

Springfield, Oregon

A city of more than 60,000, Springfield is immediately east of larger Eugene (map below). Originally, the primary industry was timber, although “wood products” now represent only about 10% of jobs there. Although Springfield is located on the somewhat navigable Willamette River, the arrival of the railroad contributed to the growth of the city.

The Station Building

In 1891, Southern Pacific Railway (SP) constructed the depot building that stands at 101 South A Street.

Springfield station Brad Nixon 4568 680

Built in a way typical of SP structures of the day — officially SP Standard #22 — it uses an architectural technique called “stick,” which means — to grossly oversimplify — that it’s built of wood. Springfield’s has some elements of Queen Anne style, the last extant example of that type. It’s also remarkable that it has two stories, and the stationmaster lived on the second floor. An attached single-story structure was the freight depot.

Moving Day

As the timber industry declined, including a large mill, the local economy diversified and became less reliant on rail transport. Passenger service ceased in 1965. Amtrak passenger service for Eugene and Springfield consolidated at the historic brick station in Eugene, from which it still operates.

Eugene Oregon train station Brad Nixon 7506 (640x464)

In 1988, Southern Pacific determined to cease operations in Springfield. They offered the building to the city, if they would move it. The structure was lifted onto a trailer and moved west from 7th Street to its current location along the tracks.

After significant restoration, the building now serves as the offices of the local Chamber of Commerce and the Springfield Visitor Center. We found the staff at the Visitor Center helpful in directing us to other points of interest in Springfield.

Springfield station Brad Nixon 4567 680

You can see a gallery of historic photos of the station in its original location from the Library of Congress at this link.

More To See

Springfield has its share of shops, stores, restaurants, historic buildings, outdoor spaces and more. At the very least, a walk along Main Street, parallel with A street one block to the north is in order. Like many towns, Springfield’s decorated some of its walls with murals — some of them genuinely good and worth a look. Here’s one, on the old IOOF Building at the corner of Main and 4th. Springfield’s most famous son. Recognize him?

Springfield mural Brad Nixon 4570 680

That’s the author, Ken Kesey, who grew up in Springfield, then, years later, returned and resided there for many years. Literally a towering figure in his old town.

Logistics

The Springfield Train Station is at 101 South A Street, Springfield, Oregon (map, red flag). There’s free parking, accessible from S. Mill St. or S. 2nd St., west and east of the building, respectively.

Springfield Oregon Google

Reach the Springfield Visitor Center via this link or at 1.541.746.1651 or 1.866.346.1651.

Licensable, high resolution versions of most photographs in this post, and select images from other Under Western Skies posts are available on Shutterstock.com. Click on the linked photos, or CLICK HERE to view the Underawesternsky photo portfolio.

© Brad Nixon 2020. My appreciation for helpful historical information from Library of Congress and waymarking.com. Map © Google.


Responses

  1. The train station’s great — the wooden one. It evokes a Swiss chalet. But my real delight is the IOOF building. I wouldn’t have known the identity of the two-story dude had it not been for the clue that eventually jogged my memory: the “FURTHR” sign. It helped that the model of the Merry Pranksters’ bus is right above it — except the name of the bus is misspelled on the sign. Maybe they ran out of room.

    ‘Plank Town’ intrigued me, too. I discovered the building’s the home of Plank Town Brewing, and that Springfield became known as Plank Town because of the lumber industry, and the use of planks for roads and sidewalks.

    That brought to mind a favorite old string band song, “Plank Town Road.” Here’s my favorite version, with Abby the Spoon Lady playing three sets of spoons and a Samsonite suitcase on the soundtrack. She was a train hopper and busker for years, slowly developed a following thanks to social media, and isn’t homeless any more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s an early cut from her busking days that shows off her artistry.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bodacious. An actual hobo shooting video in a hopper car. Maybe something I’ve never seen. And, no, I’ve heard spoons, but never like that.
      I included a photo of the front of the Springfield IOOF in a post, and this link should take you there: https://wp.me/pH6ZJ-dnD. If not, let me, know, I’ll send it via email.
      Thank you for Abby.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The link worked, and I remembered the post right away. It was nice to see those other buildings again, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you.

        Like

    • Darn. I’ve looked at the genuine thing, and I’ve seen my own photo off and on any number of times in the past year. And I didn’t make the connection that I have the spelling Furthur in my head, but that doesn’t match the plate in the mural.
      BUT! While the placard above the windshield originally read FURTHUR, there are accounts that it was corrected to FURTHER in not too much time. I don’t know that for certain, having skipped my own Merry Prankster/Deadhead period.
      As for the plate, there are lots of suggestions out there that an official Oregon plate WOULD have been FURTHR, since that’s how many letters the state allowed. That MAY explain. I am not certain of this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice pictures from Springfield Oregon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Shawn. Hope all’s well there to the northeast, and that spring is making itself felt.

      Like

      • I was outside raking some leaves yesterday, and the tulips are coming up. It was a warm day in the mid 50s.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. […] via Restored: Springfield, Oregon Railroad Depot — Under Western Skies […]

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  4. […] Restored: Springfield, Oregon Railroad Depot — Under Western Skies […]

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  5. Beautiful restoration and lots of great history. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person


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