Click here to access the 2022 Ottumwa Housing Study

Keeping History Alive and the Doors Open at Historic Eldon Depot

The Eldon Depot, a cherished part of the town’s railroad history, was recently awarded $24,705 grant through the Legacy Foundation’s Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund. This money will fix the depot’s leaky roof and shaky foundation. Since 2001, the Eldon Depot Committee has worked hard to keep the original building from the 1870s in good shape. The site features a real Rock Island train engine, flat car, caboose, model trains, and authentic railroad memorabilia donated by local families who worked on the railroad. 

The museum is run by dedicated volunteers and is open to the public for free to the public. Summer hours are Saturday and Sunday afternoons, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, or by appointment. It’s more than just a museum; it’s a gathering place where locals meet for morning coffee to share stories and trade memories. 

The depot is also recognized by Iowa Public Television as a key destination in Wapello County and was featured in their educational series on railway transportation, highlighting the building, artifacts, and trains. 

But recently, the depot faced serious problems. The leaky roof threatened to ruin priceless artifacts, and the weak foundation made the building unsafe. The Eldon Depot Committee was worried that all their hard work and the community’s history could be lost.  

Becky Taylor, a dedicated volunteer, shares her connection to the depot: “The railroad is a big part of my family history. I love this museum and spend countless hours organizing and improving it. This grant helps us keep history alive and ensures that future generations can learn about our town’s railroad heritage.” 

The grant will fix the roof, protect the artifacts, and strengthen the foundation, ensuring the building stays safe. This grant reminds us that not all funding is for new, exciting projects—sometimes, it’s for the necessary repairs that keep these historical gems in our community. To learn more about the Eldon Depot Museum visit or follow us on our Facebook page ‘Eldon Depot Museum’. 

If you have innovative ideas or necessary projects that can further enrich our community, we encourage you to submit your proposals today. The Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund grant application deadline is June 30th, at 5:00 p.m. Complete your application conveniently online at: