Historic Tyler Depot To Re-open Tuesday

Everything old is new again at the Cotton Belt Depot. The building that was once the hub of Tyler train traffic is open again after sixteen years. The building was built in 1905, and for fifty years served as Tyler's train station.

"There's a lot of emotion in everyone you talk to," says Tyler Transit General Manager Norman Schenck. "You're taking them back to their childhood and they just love it."

The depot will still play a major part in Tyler transportation. It will now house the Tyler Transit System. Schenck says they wanted to balance the demands of a new building, with the proper respect for a landmark.

"We're not putting family pictures up on the wall in here," he explains. "It'll be memorabilia from the train days, to make it more like a museum. We're excited and we hope that through our use of the building, we can bring some of that history to life."

The depot has already started drawing back East Texans who remember when they rode the rails.

"They come in and they tell you their stories," Schenck says. "You see that little twinkle in their eye again, you see that energy level come back to what it was when they were a little person. It makes the restoration worth it."

A ribbon cutting will officially re-open the Cotton Belt Depot Monday. Tyler Mayor Joey Seeber will proclaim it "Tyler Transit Day." In honor of the opening, all four Tyler bus routes will run for free Tuesday.

Reid Kerr (rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.