Created By: Coleman Memorial Museum
45 Main - Milwaukee Depot
This building was constructed in 1915. It replaced the original, smaller depot which had stood on the same site since 1882. It holds special significance because it symbolizes the town's origin as a stop on a rail line. Furthermore, the town itself was named after Mary Ellen Merrill, the wife of S.S. Merrill, the superintendent and general manager of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad.
The tracks of the Milwaukee road were laid in 1881, reaching here from Aberdeen that fall. The rail line's original terminus was three miles north of the current town, where a saloon, lumberyard, boarding house, and a fair number of homes were constructed. That original townsite was barely established when the existing townsite became the official location of Ellendale.
In addition to welcoming passengers and cargo and shipping the same to destinations around the country, the original Milwaukee Depot served as an important meeting place in Ellendale's early years. Worship services were held there. Organizational meetings for the first school were held there. Countless reunions between family members, college classmates, and dear friends occured on the depot platform.
The Milwaukee railroad ceased operation in Ellendale in 1980. The tracks were removed, though traces of the railbed can still be seen both north and south of town. Historically-minded locals formed the Ellendale Historical Society, and in 1983 they transformed the building into the Depot Museum. Numerous artifacts from the depot, including a re-creation of the office with the existing desk, furniture, telegraph machine, and many accessories are now located in the Coleman Museum. The Coleman Museum also houses the last remaining luggage wagon, a small but heavy cart built to the same height as the beds of the rail cars and used to transfer cargo on and off the train.
The Milwaukee Depot is now owned by the Mertz Lumber Company, and serves as added storage space. The owners are conscious of its historical value and intend to preserve the structure as a landmark for the community.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Ellendale - Tour of the Core City