- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

RUSSIAVILLE, Ind. (AP) - It’s been more than eight decades since the last interurban passenger train passed through Russiaville.

Between 1912 and 1932, the rail line connected Russiaville with Kokomo, Frankfort and Marion.

“The track line actually started in Marion and went to Kokomo in 1907,” said Marsha Berry, president of the Russiaville Historical Society.

“The rail extended to Russiaville and Frankfort after that.”

Since the passenger lines halted, the station has been home to freighters, a lumberyard and most recently apartments.

The once gutted and abandoned Interurban Station on the town’s east side is now getting a restoration thanks to the Russiaville Historical Society.

The plan is to transform the building into a museum dedicated to the history of western Howard County, Russiaville and the station itself, Berry said.

“We’ve replaced missing brick, cleaned the cement work around the windows,” she told the Kokomo Tribune (https://bit.ly/1pDVFBv ).

“Some of the windows had to be re-manufactured or replaced completely. We want to have the historically correct widows and have the building restored to original condition. We hope this will keep people aware of what our heritage is. We have a lot of transportation history in Russiaville. The first trolley came through Russiaville and we had the first county fair, which later shut down and went to Greentown.”

Berry also said that auto maker Jonathon Dixon Maxwell, who made one of the first automobiles, lived near Russiaville.

“His family members stayed around here after he moved away,” she said. “We have a very rich heritage that a lot of people don’t know about.”

The restoration on the outside of the building is expected to be completed by the end of September, she said.

The historical society received a $27,500 grant from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs for the work, but more funds are needed to complete the work, Berry said.

The widow of the building’s previous owner donated it to the town.

“Technically, Russiaville is home to Western High School so we want to make it interactive for students,” said Berry. “We also work with Little Hoosiers, a 4th-grade group at Western. We want to keep the ties with them and have them use materials we have for research at school or tracing their family history.”

The second phase of the restoration will transform the interior into a museum and home for the historical society, and the third will landscape the area around the building.

Berry said displays will include scale models of the interurban rail line, highlights of Russiaville’s and Howard County’s origins, clippings from the town’s former newspaper and exhibits detailing the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak that leveled almost the entire town. The interurban station was one of the few buildings that survived the storm.

But before the first phase can begin, Russiaville needs to find more funding, she said.

“This first part is taking a lot of our funds. We need more donations.”

People interesting in donating to the restoration can send donations to the Russiaville Historical Society, P.O. Box 221, Russiaville, Indiana 46979. For more information about Russiaville’s history log on to www.russiavillehistory.org

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, https://www.ktonline.com


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