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Old Burlington Depot from southwest, ca. 1890s

Burlington Northern Railroad Depot

Year Built: 1927
Engineer: W. T. Krausch

Lincoln’s railroad era began in 1870, when the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad became the first line to enter the new capital.  Burlington’s first station was a small wooden structure located a few blocks northwest of the present depot.  The second station, a handsome Victorian Gothic structure of brick and stone, was built on the 7th and ‘P’ site in 1880-81 and replaced in 1927 with the current. Neo-classical Revival style depot.

Railroads were the lifelines of Midwestern towns when Lincoln was founded, and a top priority of the new capital’s leaders was to secure rail service.  Lincoln and Lancaster County voters approved substantial bonuses to the first railroad to read Lincoln by certain deadlines, but as a local newspaper editor observed, ‘It’s easier to vote bonds than to build railroads.’ For reaching Lincoln in July 1870, Burlington collected $50,000 from the county along with 2,000 acres of land per mile of track built from the state.  Seven more lines reached the city by 1900, for which the city and county paid bonuses totaling more than $500,000. 

The railroads were not attracted solely by the bonuses, but also by the opportunity to share in the city’s growing wholesale shipments.  In turn, the jobbing trade expanded as rail service increased, transforming the old retail and residential center of the city into a busy warehouse district. 

The 1927 depot is one of the few Haymarket buildings designed with equal attention to all four facades, for which credit much be given to W. T. Krausch, who signed the original blueprints as ‘Engineer of Buildings, ’ a good railroading title.  The east side, with its glass and cast iron canopies and limestone engaged Doric colonnade, is obviously the primary facade- - the simpler but similarly dignifies, befitting the rail passenger’s first glimpse of the city.  The stone trim is restricted on the west face to the corner quoines and the cornice, while brick pilasters take the place of the east’s stone columns.  The long, covered platforms on the west side are another fine feature of this station, which was built by Omaha-based Peter Kiewit and Sons, now a worldwide construction firm.  Inside, the central, tow-story waiting room retains its trim marble, terra cotta, and plaster.

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