As a young child, Allen Haynes remembers riding the train with his mother from Portland to Nashville in the late 1940’s.
The two would spend the day shopping and visiting people they knew before heading back to northern Sumner County in the afternoon.
“People traveled all over the country on railroad tracks back then,” recalled Haynes, a local historian and former longtime curator at the Sumner County Museum. “That was the main method of transportation during that time. A lot of people would even ride the train from one town to another going to work and back.”
In 1858, the Louisville and Nashville (L&N) Railroad built a train depot on what is now West Eastland Avenue in Gallatin. It was located directly across the road from what is now the Depot Square event center.
The depot was used to transport passengers and freight throughout the region for 111 years – including during the Civil War and two world wars – before it was eventually torn down in the summer of 1969 amid declining profits due to the rise of other forms of transportation.
In November, Haynes began working on building a model of the depot which he hopes will help educate the public about what was a “vital” part of Gallatin’s history that impacted the lives of residents in the area.
“When the railroad came in it made a world of difference because prior to that most things came in on the river,” Haynes said. “Younger generations and people that move in here have never seen the depot or they don’t know about it. The reason why I built (the model) was so that people would know it was real, what it looked like, where it was placed and the history behind it.”
Using thin pieces of plywood and old watch crystals from a now closed local jewelry store for the windows, Haynes spent five months meticulously reconstructing the depot room by room.
He used a copy of the original floor plans for the building along with a limited number of photographs to make the model as true to life as possible.
“There were just a few photos… but they covered enough to be able to build it,” Haynes said. “There was also a lot of math involved with the angles of the roof.
“It’s not perfect but considering what I had to work with… it’s as accurate as you’ll find.”
The model, which is 1/87th the size of the original depot, was completed in late March and represents the depot as it looked in the circa 1920’s and 1930’s.
It is now on display on the second floor of the Gallatin Public Library.
Haynes, who previously built a model of the Portland train depot, said he hopes those who see the display will be inspired to learn more about accurate local history.
“If we don’t learn some of our history and respect it instead of tearing it down all of the time, we’re going to be in trouble,” Haynes added.