The Miranda (South Dakota) Railroad Depot:

A Renewed Life

Craig V. Hodson

The former Chicago & Northwestern Railroad depot of Miranda, Faulk County, South Dakota, is undergoing restoration and preservation. The depot is a classic one-story country depot built about the time the railroad line was built as an extension west from Huron in 1886. The depot was closed for a period of time after the depression, so if you were to check your railroad history records, you may not find a reference to Miranda during that time and also other periods the depot was inactive. Final closure was in 1956, and ownership transferred to the Miranda grain elevator. The grain elevator moved the depot across the street to a yard owned by the elevator. It was used for storage, and it was painted and re-roofed, keeping the building in good condition. Those factors---periods of inactivity, and some steps taken to preserve the building from the elements---help keep the building in good condition.

In 1992, Craig and Judy Hodson acquired the depot. In 1993, they moved the depot to a site south of Ipswich, Edmunds County, South Dakota. In its new home, it is being repaired, painted and preserved. Your interest and support is encouraged.

Description of the building: The depot is 22 feet wide by 64 feet long. One half is devoted to freight handling, and the other half is finished as waiting room and office areas. The exterior is finished with wood ("barn") siding. On the interior, the freight half is unfinished; it has a sliding freight door on each side of the building and two windows high on the end wall. Framing is on 16 or 24 inch centers, with the floor framed with 2X10 and 2X12 (actual dimension) lumber. The floor is supported on nine 22 foot timbers spaced eight feet apart; each of these timbers rests on three footings. Office and waiting room floors and walls are finished with 1X4 tongue-and-groove fir (actual dimension 3/4 by 3 1/4 inch). No plywood or plaster was used in construction. Ceiling height is 11 feet.

Community Outreach: The Miranda Depot Open House

Residents of the Miranda area, along with others with an interest in the Miranda Depot, were invited to an Open House at the Miranda Depot. Local newspapers provided advance notice of the Open House.

Over 88 people from the Miranda area, including Faulkton, Gettysburg, Cresbard and Ipswich, attended the Miranda Open House on July 7, 1998.

A complementary pork loin dinner was served at the event from 4 PM to dark (which is 10 PM!) The menu included scalloped potatoes, barbeque beans, cookies, lemonade and coffee. Catering was by Ipswich's Maw and Paw's Diner.

All attending had a chance to see the progress with the restoration via conducted tours. Visitors shared their memories of the depot and the "Galloping Goose" passenger train service. Friendships were made (or renewed) and curiosity satisfied.

Bev Wilkinson wrote a history of the depot which she shared at the open house.

Restoration Progress

In a Herculean effort, Milbank Movers raised the building from the grain elevator's yard, placed it on two long steel beams, and towed it up highway 45. They placed it exactly on the new site's array of 27 footings. Weather didn't cooperate that summer; the move was later and more difficult than expected due to the rain and muddy conditions experienced by the moving crew on their jobs.

Power company crews were able to pole (lift) the wires over the building at four locations along the building's travel path. This minimized transit delays and saved considerable labor of cutting and splicing overhead wires.

The weathered siding---the lowest six to eight feet around the building---has been replaced. Four original double-hung windows have been refurbished and re-installed. The building was primed and painted with colors, to the best of our knowledge, that match the original for exterior siding color and trim color. Interior walls removed during the building's use for storage have been rebuilt with new lumber milled to original specifications. The interior walls and ceiling have been painted to match the original color. The agent's window area was rebuilt, and new windows installed.

Plumbing and electricity are installed! Being original is fine---up to a point. No electricity, no water? That's not the way to live these days. Think about life in the late 1880s and early 1900s; no screens on the windows, either. And, no insulation in the building, just a big pile of coal to burn for heat and hot coffee. The depot has water, sewer, telephone, and electricity connections. It has screens on the windows and doors, too!

During the summer 2003, the aging asphalt shingle roof was replaced with an insulated metal roofing system by Bertsch Construction, Ipswich, South Dakota.

Photographs: On the Move, Under the Wires, and At the New Home (1993)


Photographs: View from Northwest; From West; Southwest (1995)


Photographs: Interior; Interior; From West (1996)


Interstate Commerce Commission Valuation Records

The National Archives and Records Administration researched the records of the Interstate Commerce Commission (Record Group 134) and provided the details concerning the records of the Bureau of Valuation. The record of the Final Engineering Report of the Chicago & Northwestern's Miranda depot (Valuation Section 10 SD) is:


Stock pens, 4 pens, 96'x96', with shed, scale and piping $961

Passenger and freight depot, built 1887, 1 story, frame, shingle roof, 22'x64' $1,865

Outhouse $141

Furniture $411

Grading $101

Platforms and sundry items $250

Total $2,768

No building notes were part of the Engineering Field Notes. Zell, Rockham, and Lebanon had similar depots. Groton had a 22'x104' depot with electric light, according to the record.

Plans for the Future

There are several approaches to take with a project of this nature:

The goal here is combination---keep as much of the original as possible. Save materials that haven't deteriorated beyond servicablity. Replace deteriorated materials with replacements modeled after the original. Keep paint and a roof on the building to preserve it. And, adapt it to incorporate some modern facilities that can make life easier for those volunteers willing to work on the depot. Keeping the building alive is an interpretation, a memorial to a past way of life and those whose lives touched the building.

The building is available for film/video production and community uses.

What You Can Do

If you've read this far, you have an interest, and you can make a contribution on this effort. There's no doubt something you can do, if nothing more than send a note of encouragement. No matter what your expertise, chances are you can offer some assistance.

Your contribution---in whatever form---can help make this a successful project. Become a Friend of the Miranda Depot. There's no membership card, no dues to mail in, just a willingness to help out! If you do nothing else, email your encouragement!

Who Has Helped

Many people have helped. We are compiling a list of those who have helped with the move and those who have helped with cleaning, construction, and painting. And, since there's so much to do, your name could be here, too! Special thanks go to Maw and Paw's Diner, Ipswich. 


For a list of railroad station and depot-related texts, view the bibliography.  

Last updated September 9, 2003