Richmond, Indiana became a railroad hub in the Pennsylvania Railroad system with major arteries leading toward Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Chicago, Dayton, and Cincinnati. This meant that companies could use the railroads to easily ship goods produced in Richmond all over the country.
Lincoln Funeral Train 1865
The first train came to Richmond in 1853, but the first train depot—Union Depot— wasn’t constructed for two more decades. Despite the lack of a formal depot, in 1865, one of the most solemn and significant locomotives of the day stopped in Richmond. It served as the first stop in Indiana for Lincoln’s Funeral Train, a procession carrying the assassinated president’s remains from Washington, DC, to their final resting place in Springfield, Illinois. A party of Indiana officials, including the Governor and about 100 politicians, came from Indianapolis to meet the train when it stopped in Richmond at 3am on April 30, 1865. Between 12,000 and 15,000 people were reported to have come to pay their respects at that early hour in the rain.
Union Depot 1872 - 1902
By 1872, Richmond’s first Union Depot was built to keep up with the growing passenger rail traffic. It measured about 250 by 85 feet and was large enough to straddle three tracks, allowing passengers to board out of the weather. Its distinctive mansard roof with four towers on the corners made it a striking sight for passengers who were only passing through Richmond.
Pennsylvania Depot 1902-present
The replacement for the Union Depot opened in 1902 and still stands today. It was designed by the famed Daniel Burnham Company of Chicago. It was a much smaller building, but originally it included a 400-foot-long train shed that covered the tracks to allow passengers to embark and debark out of the weather. (The shed was removed in 1953 to make way for the 9th Street Overpass.) It was the center of life for Richmond for much of the twentieth century, until train travel was overtaken by car or airplane. After passenger service ceased in 1971, the building fell into disrepair and was slated for demolition on more than one occasion. Finally, in 2017, after extensive repairs, it re-opened as office space for the local economic development group.