Since 2006, the Anna Area Historical Preservation Society has been working to renovate and preserve the Anna Train Depot, and that goal finally came to fruition with its dedication last Saturday.
“This means everything to the town,” Preservation Society member Sherry Hendricks said. “I am old enough to remember when it was in its original place. This is now somewhere that adults and children can come to enjoy.”
On Saturday, the AAHPS revealed a historical marker that now sits outside the depot at Sherley Heritage Park, detailing the depot’s importance and history in the town of Anna. The depot is now serving as both a piece of preserved history, as well as an education center inside. It is in the company of a new picnic pavilion and park, but this is not the final plan for Sherley Heritage Park. In its finality, the Anna Area Historical Preservation Society plans to incorporate a statue of Collin McKinney, as well as a replica of his Anna home, and a 1900s locomotive and tender.
The Anna Depot Dedication attracted both the young with its bright and sizable park and the old as they recalled its history. Citizens gathered in celebration as the depot was recognized and stayed for the children’s ride-on train, live music by Tammy Wortham, horn demonstration, rail safety education by Operation Lifesaver and train display.
The train depot was originally built in 1885 along the train tracks east of Highway 5, two years after Anna was plotted. By this time, there was a population of 20, a baptist church and two stores. In the town’s memoir-esque biography, “A Town Named Anna,” by Chester Howell in 1985, the depot was a spark that ignited population growth. The first depot agent was Andrew Sherley, an A&M College graduate.
Following the rise of cars and highway transportation after World War II, the reliance on railroad transportation began to diminish. The depot’s activity was ceased in early 1960, and it was moved to be used as a hay barn on the property of Lewis Roberts. When the property was sold and the depot was to be destroyed, the Anna Area Historical Preservation Society stepped in.
The depot came into the possession of the AAHPS over 10 years ago, and was moved onto its new permanent home at Sherley Heritage Park in May of last year. Since then, it has gone through extensive renovation and restoration to model the historical appearance from its prime.
Food was available from Cross My Heart & Hope For Pie, Everything Ice Cream, and Smoken S BBQ and Catering Co. As children rode on the train and played at the park, and adults ate and had a history lesson inside the depot, a historic, monumental landmark, the Anna Train Depot, stood among it all — just feet away from its first home.