Celebrating history

It’s been 50 years since the Hendricks/Lincoln County Historical Society was incorporated and purchased the Chicago and Northwestern train depot

Marc Widmark, a Hendricks/Lincoln County Historical Society board member, stands by a hand-built boat in the North Exhibit building, which has agricultural and other items.


A depot, one-room schoolhouse, working church, Sears and Roebuck house and two outbuildings containing military and agriculture memorabilia contain heaps of donated historical items in Hendricks. The public can visit the complex from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. today and tour the six buildings on the museum grounds as well as take part in the many activities planned for the day.

All activities will take place at the museum and in Veterans Memorial Park. Musicians, local history buffs and guest speakers will appear on the public stage. Vendors will have unique wares of glass, stone, wood, bone, primitives, and repurposed items at the Pickers Paradise flea market. Demonstrations of old-time skills — flint knapping, rug making, rope making, butter churning and other primitive crafts will take place. A free will donation lunch will be served between 11 a.m.-1 p.m. A “candy cannon” for kids will be launched at various times between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Live music will be provided by Uncle Ron’s One Man Band and Tony Ford and Lindsay Gella. Join in the Scavenger Hunt, Identify the Mysterious Museum Artifact contest, and enter the prize drawings held throughout the day.

Visitors can wander among the six buildings including the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Depot.

Marc Widmark, a Hendricks/Lincoln County Historical Society board member, said the depot was originally located by the co-op on Railroad Street and was moved down to its present location in the Veterans Memorial Park. The depot has been renovated and upgraded including a new steel roof. It was built in 1900 in the newly-incorporated village of Hendricks, which had 240 residents at the time. Widmark said the design of the depot “is the last model in 1900. It was the end of the old-fashioned depots. In the 1960 and ’70s, over the road trucking took over” as a means of transporting goods. The C&NW Depot was closed in 1967 and sold for $306 and was moved for $1,500.

“The original volunteers dedicated thousands of hours” starting the museum, said Widmark, including one who is still active, Gail Kvernmo. Kvernmo was among the group that visited area museums back in 1968 to see how they operated.

The historical society was formed 50 years ago by a group of women from several federated clubs in the community after the depot closed.

“The board members all pitch in at maintaining the museum and its artifacts,” said Widmark.

“We contribute our time with whatever our specialty is.”

An Icelandic church on the grounds was built in 1925.

“It was moved here (in 1994) from east of Ivanhoe,” Widmark said.

The church is in good condition.

“People can have wedding, baptisms in the church,” he said. “People are welcome to rent it out for an event.”

The two-story house was ordered from Sear Roebuck and built in 1918. It had the latest conveniences including a pump at the kitchen sink. The owners, the Rev. Justin and Mrs. Ekse, bought it for $2,500 and had it shipped to the Hendricks Depot and paid an additional $1,500 to have the house erected. The house was moved to the Museum location in 1986.

The house is furnished with donated items from community members.

The District 5 one-room country school, originally located one mile north of Hendricks, was built in 1879 and was the first school in Hendricks Township. It closed in 1950 and moved to the Museum in 1975.

Other buildings contain military and medical memorabilia and agricultural artifacts.

The museum is open the first Saturday in May through Labor Day from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday or by appointment. For more information, leave a message at 507-275-5247 or by email: pioneermuseum@itctel.com.