The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Toni Dickover, president of the board of directors of Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad Inc., invites the community to help celebrate Arcadia Depot’s 150th anniversary during a public open house at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Toni Dickover, president of the board of directors of Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad Inc., invites the community to help celebrate Arcadia Depot’s 150th anniversary during a public open house at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Arcadia Depot has a special place in Toni Dickover’s heart.
As she sits in the old train depot, built in 1869, pouring over old photographs and newspaper clippings, she loves hearing the train whistle as it rumbles through Arcadia once more.
She is board president of Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad Inc. The organization owns and operates Arcadia Depot and is buying the train, the new Nickel Plate Express, which celebrates its first full year of operation with a birthday excursion on Saturday.
“The depot has come a long way since it first began serving passengers in the mid 1800s. I am thrilled that the building still remains today, historically intact, thanks to the hard work of my Aunt Victoria and the rest of the Heritage Center,” Dickover, 72, Noblesville, said.
Her aunt, the late Victoria “Tory” (Mosbaugh) Hope, was at the forefront of the group that stepped forward to save the depot.
It was 1971, when Hope and other Arcadia residents learned that Norfolk and Western, current operator of the railroad line, had slated the building for demolition since it no longer served the line as a functioning depot.
The Arcadia train depot was, at one time, a bustling center of the town of Arcadia, seeing both passenger and freight traffic, with the train coming through at least four times a day.
The town of Arcadia wasn’t interested in buying the depot. “It was in horrible shape … It was just falling apart,” Dickover said.
Thanks to Hope’s efforts, the depot will celebrate its 150th anniversary with an open house at 2 p.m. Saturday. The depot was moved in 1972 to its current location at 107 W. South St., Arcadia.
“It’s an amazingly solid building. It came from just half a block north of here,” said Dickover, who is board president of Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad Inc. The organization owns and operates Arcadia Depot and is buying the train, the new Nickel Plate Express, which celebrates its first full year of operation with a birthday excursion on Saturday.
Dickover opened the front door of the Arcadia Depot and headed outdoors, walking a few yards north on the tracks, where the depot once was a hub of activity, then returned to the current property. “They brought it over, they put a crawl space underneath it, they sat in on this (about 40-by-80-foot) piece of property,” she said.
Dickover’s Aunt Tory was among nine community activists who met and came up with a plan to save the depot and move it to a new location.
Hope, who graduated from Arcadia High School in 1933, was organist and pianist for Arcadia Christian Church and later Noblesville First Christian Church, and was Jackson Township clerk for her husband, Donald, the trustee, until he died, then she became trustee. Hope died in 2008, at age 92.
“Victoria Hope and Stanton Renner, a local high school history teacher, joined forces with other Arcadia citizens and took the name The Heritage Center,” with Hope as president and a mission “to preserve the heritage of our community.”
Renner, Hope and the Hamilton Heights government classes “went door to door, collecting money to save this piece of history,” she said.
While Dickover graduated from Noblesville High School in 1965, she spent her early years in Arcadia, until 1957 when she was 10. She went to Atlanta Elementary. “My grandparents lived on that side of (Indiana) 19. My grandparents had a big, huge farm across from the cemetery, and we lived in a house that was part of their land. Everybody who lived on the north side of what was now 266th Street went to Atlanta, and everybody on the south side went to Cicero, to elementary.” She doesn’t remember a lot about the train depot, but she does recall the Hedgehog Music Showcase as being a former dime store.
Years later, she said,“I came one time with Mom, probably in the late ‘70s, just stopped in to see Tory one day ... It was probably the first time I was ever in it.”
Dickover’s mom, Mildred (Mosbaugh) Voss, Hope’s sister, who lived in Noblesville, moved to Florida in 1979.
Tory’s daughter, watercolorist Erin Hope Pesavento, 76, moved to Arcadia in 2006 (about the time that Hope moved to a nursing home) and took over stewardship of Arcadia Depot. “She concentrated on updating the improving the exterior and interior of the building (added a wood deck, updated the air conditioning and heat, put in carpeting and did some painting, thanks to a grant from Hamilton County Tourism) and attracting a significant collection of Arcadia Glass,” Dickover said. (During the gas boom in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Arcadia was home to Jenkins Glass Factory, which employed many local residents and produced several different glass patterns, which are beautiful, with many, many pieces on display at the depot.)
Pesavento, whose drawing of the depot is for sale and raises funds for the depot, also exhibited her art work and taught classes in the depot’s former Freight Room, which at one time served as Arcadia Library (1973 or ‘74 until Cicero Library opened in 1998). “It was the rental from the library that paid the depot bills, plus allowed for some extra funds to help pay for repairs, along the way,” Renner said.
Dickover assumes that her Aunt Tory, who had the time to caretake, also paid the utility bills after that from her own pocket.
“I appreciate what she put into it and what she did, so does Erin,” Dickover said.
All the while, this was all happening without Dickover being involved with the depot.
Dickover’s aunt and mom both died in 2008, Tory in January and her mom in July. When they died, Pesavento reached out to Dickover. “We had gotten some donations in from family and from friends of both Mom and Tory who wanted (money) to go to the depot.”
So Pesavento asked Dickover to come in and volunteer at the depot. So, in 2008, Dickover joined her cousin. “She was the artist, and I was the business side of the family.”
Dickover said, “We reached out to try to see what was available to help us make this place grow and get people in, to even see it. Because it’s crazy to have this beautiful museum and nobody knows about it or people don’t come.”
The depot is only open on Saturdays, “because it’s hard to get people to volunteer.” Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Brendan White as facilitator. White has a master’s degree in history and also works on the Nickel Plate Express.
This week, Dickover offered me a tour of the Arcadia Depot, which is an amazing little museum that offers so much history about the town of Arcadia.
There are pictures of her Aunt Torey displayed on the wall, one posed in front of the depot museum on a storyboard, with another framed photo of Hope sitting at the church organ, with a list of donors to the museum posted under her photo.
“It is exciting to watch as the historic depot takes on its latest venture, as an interactive museum telling the story of Arcadia and how the railroad shaped our community,” Dickover said.
Before there was Twitter was Morse Code, and visitors can see a Western Union Morse Code telegraph device used by the old train depot. Today, Twitter can actually connect Western Union Morse Code to a train, she said.
The depot’s front room, which features the original 150-year-old cherry wood floor, was always the waiting room for the train and has a ticket window. Today, the room also showcases Arcadia’s past. There is an original cheese box from a cheese factory that was eventually sold to Kraft. There is a large display of Arcadia Glass (the largest glass collection from Christy Riley, from her parents, collectors Bob and Kay Riley) which was made in Arcadia from 1914 to about 1932. There was also a lot of brick manufacturing.
The Hoosier Hot Shots, from Arcadia, who Hamilton County historian David Heighway loves to talk about, were on stage from the 1930s to the 1970s and created a crazy musical device that had bells and whistles and a washboard.
Dickover said. “Entertainment was really huge in small towns. They had the big theater and did plays with different backdrops….” History of the Roberts Settlement is also displayed.
There are tangible displays and large storyboards (thanks to a grant from Indiana Humanities), installed over the past year, at the depot, where today, the building offers history presented simply and pristinely in a museum that showcases Nickel Plate Railroad and the history of Arcadia.
Dickover is hoping for lots of visitors this weekend, during the 150th celebration, which will also take place during the Nickel Plate Express’ one-year anniversary birthday excursion.
The community is invited to visit the depot on Saturday, when the Nickel Plate Express will pass by the depot. It will be kind of “a neat experience.”
Dickover -- who also works on the Nickel Plate Express, helping plan excursions, hiring employees and buying water and soda for the train, as well as train cleaning, encourages folks who want to ride the train and visit the depot both on Saturday -- to ride the noon train, and then drive on down from Atlanta.
“The train has been a great success. The two (train and depot) of them are not necessarily as married as we would think yet. We’d hoped that the train would involve the depot on a regular basis,” said Dickover, who wants to plan more events that bring the train and depot together.
She hopes people will come and help celebrate on Saturday. Dickover said, “We want people to know what’s here and what they can learn about Arcadia as it developed and its history.”
She thinks Aunt Tory would like what they’ve done with the depot. “I believe that she would have been amazed at where we are today.”
-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.