The History of the Flora B&O Depot
The Flora B&O Depot has been an important part of the town’s history. In 1872, the first depot was built. This building was built from the liberal subscriptions of local citizens. It served the City of Flora until 1916, when it was destroyed by fire.
In 1916-1917, a new three-story brick depot was built. This building was a huge part of the economic life of the community during those early years. In the 1920’s, the railroad employed half the wage earners in Flora. In 1924, three hundred employees worked at the local station.
When the depot was completed in 1917, it contained three floors. The main floor was used for passengers. It had a large waiting room with a baggage room and restrooms. The Western Union office, yard office, mailroom and ticket office were also located on this floor.
The second floor held the offices of important depot members. Men who occupied these offices included the chief clerk, division engineer, superintendents, dispatchers, carpenters, signal supervisors, train masters and road foremen, plus railroad law enforcement officers and the district’s own physician.
The third floor contained large offices. Later, these offices became one social room. It was here that railroad employees and their families held potluck dinners and socials. Not only was the depot a hub of transportation and commerce, it was a center for much of the social life in the community.
In the 1950’s, as roads improved, cars became the chief means of transportation. Travelers no longer looked to trains as the primary source of transportation. The depot became less important to the community and the days of hosting 12 passenger trains, daily passing through Flora, became a fond memory.
In 1998, the Flora B&O Depot was named one of three sites in Clay County on the National Register of Historic Places. With this recognition and the interest of many citizens of the community, the Flora Community Development Corporation (FCDC) purchased the depot from CSX Railroad.
FCDC successfully obtained three federal grants to restore the building, matched by local donations of citizens. Today, the University of Illinois Extension Service rents the third floor. The second floor is a community room available to rent for various activities. The first floor houses the Flora Chamber of Commerce office, a museum containing city and county historical artifacts and two unfinished room available for occupancy.
For more information, contact FCDC at 223 West Railroad Street, Flora, IL. 62839, or telephone the Chamber office at 618-662-5646.