The Mackinaw Depot History

The origin and development of the Illinois Terminal RR Co. (commonly known as the Illinois Traction System (ITS)) began in 1895. From 1895 - 1910 lines were built from Danville on the east through Champaign, Decatur and Springfield on the west. The second line ran from Decatur to Bloomington through Mackinaw to Peoria on the west. A third line ran from Mackinaw Junction (1/2 miles west of the Mackinaw Depot, 100 yards east of the Mackinaw River) through Springfield to St. Louis.

By 1945 the rail system of 476 miles served the heart of the agricultural district of Illinois and many great industrial centers. In 1945 the ITS handled 336,296 cars of revenue freight and 10,348,063 revenue passengers.

In 1945, 14 daily trains operated on the line from Peoria through Mackinaw Junction to St. Louis. Three trains in each direction were high speed, deluxe air-conditioned reserved seats with comfortable individual chairs. A la carte dining service was provided on these trains.

The rapid decline for freight and passenger service in the late 40s and early 50s brought the system to a halt. The Mackinaw Depot was last used in 1953.

A train car was used for the first Mackinaw Station. Construction of the present Depot began in 1909 and was completed in 1910. The Depot is among the few examples of Spanish-style architecture left in Illinois. The Mackinaw Depot is one of few left standing and in use.

The Mackinaw Historical Society purchased the depot in 1978 and had it designated a National Historical Site. Beth Wiegand, after driving by the depot daily and wishing it could be restored, bought the depot in January of 1998 with a need and purpose in mind.

After many long days and nights with help from family, employees, many helpf Ul contractors and friends and volunteer help restoration and a new addition was completed. Ribbon cutting was October 22.

The depot now houses Garden Gate Floral and the The Tea Room. The addition houses additional tea room seating, kitchen, restrooms, office, work area and storage.