Wheelchair ramp for train depot
By Angie Landsverk
The latest addition to the Waupaca Train Depot is a wheelchair ramp.
Ryan Hemmila built it in June as part of his Eagle Scout project.
He is a member of Boy Scout Troop 634.
Members of the troop work at the train depot quite a bit.
As a result, one of the troop’s leaders suggested it as an idea for Hemmila’s Eagle Scout project.
His project included laying a brick platform and then building the wheelchair ramp.
The bricks Hemmila used were from the old depot.
“When the historical society bought the building, a lot of the brick had been removed from the platforms. We were able to dig up some of the original brick,” said Mike Kirk.
Kirk is among those involved in the restoration of the building.
The Waupaca Historical Society bought the train depot in 2004, and volunteers started working on it a year later.
“It’s just kind of a spare time project for us,” Kirk said. “We don’t have the money to hire out for it.”
Adding a wheelchair ramp to the depot is a project volunteers always wanted to see get done, he said.
“We have a lot of older visitors who come here and even with the few steps, it is difficult for them to get in (the depot),” Kirk said.
Waupaca Foundry and the Waupaca Lions Club donated money for the lumber needed to build the ramp.
Hemmila, who will be a senior at Waupaca High School this fall, spent several mornings working on the project.
His fellow troop members helped him, but he had to lead the project.
The completion of his project is followed by paperwork and a Board of Review in which he discusses his project and years in scouting.
Hemmila said he likes being in Boy Scouts because “it gives you the opportunity to learn things you wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn.”
He learned outdoor and communication skills through his involvement.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Hemmila said. “You get to meet new people and hang out with friends.”
Kirk is happy the depot now has a wheelchair ramp.
It is located on the side of the building by the railroad tracks.
Built in 1907, the Waupaca Train Depot opened in January 1908.
For most of its life, it was a Soo Line Railroad Depot, said Kirk.
The depot’s last passenger train went out of it on Jan. 16, 1965, he said.
However, the building continued to be used as an office until 1986.
Kirk was working on a nearby segment of Waupaca’s River Ridge Trail when the building was put on the market.
The Waupaca Historical Society negotiated with Wisconsin Central and then Canadian National Railroad to purchase the old train depot, without having to move it off its site.
Located at 525 Oak St., the train depot is open from noon to five 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer.
“And watch for special events,” Kirk said.