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[photo] Princess Cafe sign
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Current view of the Illinois Central Combination Depot
Courtesy of the Ackley Historic Preservation Commission

Built in 1926 to replace two former wooden buildings, the Illinois Central Combination Depot located in Ackley, is a substantial brick building exhibiting characteristics of the Prairie style with a Tudor Revival influence. The Ackley depot is an example of a second-generation depot that the Illinois Central Railroad began constructing in Iowa in the early 20th century. The company replaced several of its depots between the 1890s and the 1920s, a period which roughly coincides with the golden age of steam railroading in Iowa. Replacing its original, wooden one-and two-story combination stations, the company erected brick depots with hipped roofs in the larger towns and cities along its main Iowa line. The Ackley depot was one of the last replacement stations the company designed before the Depression. In 1925 the two-story wood combination depot in Ackley was 60 years old and probably in need of repair.

Closer view of the Illinois Central Combination Depot
Courtesy of the Ackley Historic Preservation Commission

As Ackley possessed a flourmill, two grain elevators, a cement factory, a pickling factory and several lumberyards and warehouses by this time, the business generated in Ackley justified the construction of a new station, rather than repairing the old one. Plans were drawn in 1926 by J. H. Schott, an Iowa Central architect, and after minor revisions the building contract was let to the Coomer and Small Construction Company of Sioux City. The Illinois Central Combination Depot contained a freight room, a heater room, a coal room, a ticket office and other rooms necessary for a depot. It is a one-story, 12 by 3 bay building with an off-center, rectangular trackside bay window. The building measures 115 and a half feet wide by 28 feet deep. The foundation is concrete, and the depot walls are solid brick. Passenger service was discontinued in 1970 and the depot was permanently closed in May of 1980. This working style depot is currently scheduled for restoration work through a grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The Illinois Central Combination Depot--Ackley is located North of Park Ave., between State and Mitchell Sts. in Ackley. The site is undergoing restoration and will not be open until mid-2002.

[graphic] Collage of different scenes from Hardin County
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