In 1872, the Utah Southern Railroad Depot was built in Lehi to support the railroad system in Utah. The depot was used by several systems and, finally, by Union Pacific. In 1904, R.J.Stice was named the depot’s agent and operator. Four of the Stice children were born upstairs in the historic train depot. Trains arrived and departed 24 hours a day, and R.J. was on call whenever they came.
According to the Lehi Centennial History book, The effect of the advent of the railroad in Lehi was almost magical. State Street witnessed mushroomed growth. Lehi became a distribution center for goods shipped to the towns to the south. Many of the men obtained profitable employment in freighting.” (p. 126-7)
Family members of the Stice family, Don West (grandson), Darlene Stice van Werkhoven (granddaughter), Karl Farnsworth (great-grandson), and others, are anxious to see the historic Train Depot Museum restored, reopened to the public, and used as a historical museum in its present location at 225 E. State Street. According to the Stice family, this location “was intended by the original donors of artifacts and by city officials.”
“Now, the public is no longer allowed inside the museum, the sign is off, and the artifacts are in storage at a cost,” said West. “Getting them [the artifacts] back where they belong would be a great way to promote the impactful history of the railroad in Lehi.” Farnsworth and van Werkhoven explained. “This [location] is part of the 3.2-mile rail/trail system that begins at Entrata in Lehi and ends at the present depot location.”
“There is such interest in biking, running, hiking, and walkingtrails in our community, and this could be part of the system that Lehi City has already invested heavily in, including the $6.2 million bridge on the trail that crosses ten lanes of traffic as well as the tunnel underneath I-15,” said Farnsworth.
“In 2000, the depot was restored because of the work of the Lehi Historical Society Preservation Commission, Lehi Historian Richard Van Wagoner, Lehi City Mayor Ken Greenwood, and an enthusiastic group of Lehi citizens and donors. The depot was moved back to its original location on land donated to the city by the Eastmond Family,” said West.
He also noted that it is one of only two remaining depots from the earliest decade of Utah’s railroad history. West said it is the second oldest standing depot west of the Mississippi River and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2018, Lehi City purchased the building back from the Hutching Museum family for $10,000 and gave Hutchings all the artifacts that were part of the initial grant money and donations used for the restoration. In 2001, the restored DepotMuseum displayed artifacts and was open to the public until 2020. Partly due to COVID-19, the Hutchings Museum closed the Depot Museum in 2020, removed the artifacts, placed all but a few in storage and began using the museum for offices. The second floor has been a meeting place for the Point of the Mountain Chamber of Commerce for several years.
The Stice Family and others in the community would like to see Lehi City and the Hutchings Museum leadership do the following:
1) Restore the structure and add other related artifacts to the depot.
2) Operate as a museum as the Lehi Historical Preservation Commission intended with scheduled hours so clubs, groups, schools, and individuals can visit.
3) Expand and create a tourist destination in the area of State Street, where the train depot is located, for those who wish to experience Lehi’s history.
The Stice family believes the steps above require minimal costs but would significantly enhance our community’s heritage and legacy. The Stice Family is willing to contribute to this effort by forming a 501c3 to make this vision a reality, but it will need the cooperation of
“We have met with City officials and the Hutchings Institute several times and have had our requests turned down so far. Nevertheless, we have been encouraged, as we’ve been socializing among many other interested parties and organizations, where our idea has been very well received,” said West.
“We see a wonderful opportunity to use the Depot Museum as a destination point for bikers, hikers, and visitors to Lehi. Schools, clubs and groups could come and explore more of Lehi’s unique and storied history,” said Farnsworth.
“We can see shops and restaurants and even bring in train cars to complement the depot, much like the Heber Valley Railroadlocation in Heber.”
The family sees a way for investors and history buffs to become involved in developing this area and re-open the Depot Museumin a way that would enhance all of Lehi. Those interested in this effort may contact Don West at (801) 376-5115 or email@example.com.