The Depot remained shuttered for nearly 40 years, being used as feed storage and even surviving a fire, until the Rockdale Historical Society purchased the Depot on Dec. 1, 1999, from Adolf McVoy Jr, and began a decade-long project which restored the building to its Victorian Era glory, including restoration of the cupola.
The Rockdale I&GN Depot reopened June 7, 2008, and beat out two other finalists for the Texas Downtown Association’s cherished award of "Best Restored Building in Texas" in 2009. Competition was intense. The other projects were the Whitmire & Whitmire Insurance Building in Wichita Falls and the Hepker Building in Bastrop. "When we got to the gathering and saw photos of that insurance building we were just blown away," Rockdale Historical Society member Joy Graham said. But a blue-ribbon jury panel composed of architects, historians and writers selected Rockdale’s I&GN Depot as the overall winner. Judges termed the Depot project "a great anchor recaptured for the community" and praised "attention to architectural details and lighting".
Construction began on the Rockdale International & Great Northern Railroad freight and passenger depot in on Main Street in 1905, and was completed and dedicated in 1906.
Primarily an agricultural community the new railroad gave farmers access to markets for their crops, and Rockdale became a shipping point for other local businesses. The San Antonion & Aransas Pass (later called Southern Pacific) Railroad operated a north-south route through Rockdale from 1891-1959, further contributing to economic growth. Several lignite coal mines were established in the 1890s, and the Rockdale, Sandow & Southern Railroad was chartered in 1923 to carry lignite coal to area customers, becoming Rockdale’s third rail line.
In 1925 the I&GN was leased by Missouri-Pacific Railroad and operated as a division of Missouri-Pacific until 1955, when it officially merged with Missouri-Pacific. When a new roof was added in 1936 the depot lost its landmark cupola, a cost-saving measure. By 1957, the only job remaining at the Rockdale depot was railroad agent. That post was eliminated and the final passenger train left Rockdale July 15,1970.
Today, the Rockdale I&GN Depot stands as a proud reminder of Rockdale’s history, and serves as Rockdale’s Weekend Visitors Center.
This authentic restoration of the 1906 I&GN Passenger Station features an original Station Agent’s Desk, Telegraph Desk, and Ticket Office, as well as hosts displays of railroad memorabilia to delight train enthusiasts of all ages. The I&GN Depot is also home to two vintage railroad cars, the “Cheyenne Mountain” Missouri Pacific Diner #36 and the Missouri Pacific Caboose #12263, as well as a Blacksmith shop at which they periodically host demonstrations.