Main Line Rail
A Main Street Vermilion Volunteer Project
It was dream among a group of local residents that took a few years to take shape but worth the wait.
In 2008 a conversation between committee members Coletta and Bill Kubic, Ceil Zander and Dennis Lamont sparked interest with new members including father and son craftsmen, William and Bob Reese. Bob, a skilled woodworker, train enthusiast and newly retired from a career in the military stepped up to help. A year later he was named chairman for the committee and plans were underway to design and build a platform that would provide a place for every train buff, hobbyist and the curious to gather and watch what comes down the line.
Bob drew up the plans, the committee approved and the project began to move forward. The committee worked closely with Norfolk and Southern to address local requirements and issues of safety. The site, everyone agreed, would be an extension of Victory Park and stand between Main Street and the old 1853 depot that is still in use by the owner, St. Mary Catholic Church.
The City of Vermilion enthusiastically approved the committee’s proposal, even suggesting to build it bigger and supported the project with some funding from the Parks Board. The final design was produced by the Mayer Architectural Group. Fundraising was underway and between private donations, grants from the Wakefield Foundation and Key Bank and Main Line Rail merchandise, the project was ready to break ground.
An all volunteer labor force helped clear the brush, stumps and some pines obstructing the view of the tracks and oncoming trains. Help poured in from many local companies including Herk Excavating, T.P. Turf and Tri Power Electric.
By September 2010, footers were poured and the deck and stairs framed in. By the end of October that year, the handicapped ramp was framed and electrical wiring finished. In mid November the deck was built to completion by Bob, Chuck Worcester and Ted Wakefield. The beautiful roof arches, crafted by William Reese to match the details on the 1853 depot, were in place. With the completion of the roof, the platform was undercover and work halted until spring the following year.
Next April, signage was fabricated and installed along with the display and information board that houses maps of Vermilion and the township. Bob and local photographer, Scott Dommin provided train photos and information for the display that features historical perspective and railroad safety.
Volunteers turned out to for a paint party and the platform received a fitting whitewash. The Vermilion Parks Department and Vermilion in Bloom added landscaping and the benches that have invited visitors to sit and enjoy since then.
On May 14, 2011, a dedication ceremony was held and proclaimed Railroad History Day by then Mayor Eileen Bulan.
The total cost of the structure was only $5,800 and completed with countless, priceless hours of volunteer help.
Today the Main Line Rail Committee maintains the platform with repairs, safety checks, spring clean up and Christmas decorations. More importantly, they have created a gathering space for people with a common interest; a spot where parents and grandparents can take the kids for a unique experience; or where a retiree can spend his mornings reading a newspaper and be in no hurry except to see what coming down the tracks. Because in the course of a day, more than 100 trains traveling east and west pass in front of the Main Line Rail Platform.
Thank you to the following volunteers who had the vision, skills and perseverance to bring the Main Line Rail Platform to Vermilion: Bob Reese (Main Line Rail Chairman); William Reese; Ceil Zander; Colletta and Bill Kubic; Dennis Lamont; Chuck and Margaret Worcester; Scott Dommin; Pam Reese; Jason Cowie (Norfolk & Southern); Travis Mayer (Mayer Architectural Group); Dick Partington; Vermilion in Bloom; Dan Squires and Bob Kurtz (City of Vermilion); Lynn Miggins (KS Engineering); Ted Wakefield and the Wakefield Foundation; Key Bank; Garth Grob and the City of Vermilion.