Historical Society Holds Annual Meeting and Depot Presentation


The Goodhue Area Historical Society held its annual meeting on Monday, March 18th at the Lion’s Community Center. Carolyn Ryan and Norris Voth gave a power point presentation on the history and renovation of the Goodhue Depot. Several items from the museum and artifacts related to The Depot were on display and viewed with interest during the social time before and after the event.

Society President, Dave Betcher called the meeting to order at 7 PM. Marie Strusz gave the secretary report and Barry Holst the financial report. A unanimous ballot was cast for returning board members, Diane Opsahl and Karen O’Reilly, and Barb Augustine who agreed to run for Dan O’Connor’s position as he chose not to seek re-election. The duty of creating the society’s newsletter is being passed from Ardis Voth to Brenda Lerum. Brenda is a Goodhue native currently residing in Zumbrota. She will use her love of local history and writing skills to continue the output of interesting newsletter content and keep the Facebook page up to date.

Dave recognized members who passed away in 2023 and gave special thanks to all volunteers. There is always a need for more guardians (those who greet guests when the museum is open) and helpers for the annual cleaning days which will be held on May 22nd and 23rd.

Current notable things at the museum include records from Vieths’ Store dated 1910-1925. The records are kept in the store’s safe that is housed in the museum and can be viewed by anyone that is interested. Also on display is a model of the coal tower created by Bob Eppen. Both the coal tower model and Eppen’s scale model of The Depot could be seen at the annual meeting.

Betcher introduced Jeff and Carolyn Ryan, owners of the newly refurbished depot building with a brief explanation of the importance of the depot. From 1890 until the Highway 58 road route was completed, everything passed through the area by rail. “That’s why Goodhue exists,” he said. Carolyn and Norrie then took over, relaying the history of the depot and its recent restoration.

500-600 People were employed in 1888 laying tracks and building 23 bridges between Red Wing and Zumbrota. The depot building, erected in late 1889 on land that had been purchased and platted by prominent Red Wing businessman, T.B. Sheldon, was the first building constructed in Goodhue and the town grew around it. The property was deeded to the railroad by Sheldon’s heirs after his death in 1900. The depot served as a transportation hub with passenger and freight trains moving North from Red Wing and South from Rochester. A separate women’s waiting room was created in 1916 after a unique addition to the center of the building. Indoor plumbing was added in 1949, just one year prior to the last passenger run. The line continued to carry freight until 1964.

When the rail station closed, the depot property was purchased by Lodermeier Implement and used to assemble, repair, and display farm equipment. Lodermeier’s sold the property to the city when they moved to their new location in 2017 and the Ryans purchased it three years later. The Historical Society annual meeting presentation focused on the building renovations that took place over the next two years leading up to the opening of the current business on August 5, 2023.

Those attending marveled at the photo slides documenting the enormity of the project from its starting condition to its present beauty. The Ryans, along with family, friends, and contractors worked systematically through repairing the foundation, removing the steel siding, sheetrock, dirt and debris, to upgrading or installing new plumbing and utilities. Care was taken to preserve as many of the original features as possible. Norrie stripped and refinished windows, doors, floors and furnishings. Jeff and Carolyn painted the exterior to be historically accurate and painted and furnished the interior to create a vintage feel. Many interesting things were found in the walls and ground throughout the process and are now on display inside along with historical information and photos.

As the transformation moved from abandoned repair shop to thriving gathering spot, Carolyn thought, “After 50 to 60 years of this building being shut down, there’s life and light back in it”. This project is truly a source of pride for the entire community and the Ryans and everyone involved deserve the applause given at the end of the evening.