Spencer Depot

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The Spencer was a small town depot, and it was sister to similiar depots in places like Trevor, Unity and Boyd, Wis. As built, It is not certain if these depots had Women's Waiting Rooms, or just a General Waiting Room, Telegraph Office, and Freight Room, with a limited attic above.

The Spencer Depot's original location was east of Spencer's main street at the junction of the Ashland Line and the new Main Line. Spencer's depot was moved sometime before WWI to the spot it stood until it was tore down in November of 1973. 

We have another postcard view of Spencer from 1955. This view shows Spencer as I remember it, but with a lot more paint on it. Spencer looked like Hell, folks, in her later years.

But, in any case, by 1955 the depot was considerably longer and with SHIP LAP siding replacing the earlier board & batten siding. In fact, Soo put on a larger bay window, adding a window to make an ersatz three-window operator bay along the lines of many other Soo depots that had them---e.g., Abbotsford, Auburndale, Federal Dam, Medford, Park Falls, etc.

Talk about a building getting a thorough remodelling job. Also in that 1955 postcard view, Spencer still sports the upper quadrant train order signal yet, but with the westbound facing blade much lower on the mast than the eastbound-facing blade. The reason for this was that you could see Spencer's signal from Mannville, about 8 miles out. The blade needn't be so high as the Eastbound blade; eastbound, trains came from around a curve and behind buildings on Spencer's main street. It had to be high.

Looks downright odd, however.

I was in Spencer many times. I will never fail to remember that when you approached the east end of the depot, you could see very starkly where the B&B had closed off the single end window in the waiting room----those were the only boards on that end that had paint on them. Made that closed in window stick out like a sore thumb.

My guess is the Soo took that window out because a train's headlight would shine in there for a long time before the train passed. It's the only reason I could come up with.

I recall the floor in the Spencer Depot was Cement, painted red. Or, at least part of it was, and that there was a crawl space making up a basement of sorts under the building. The old Western Union sign laid down there, visible to you above, because there was a grate in the floor allowing full view of that area.

I never got in the freight room at Spencer. I usually had little time to explore the place when I rode with Dad. The best I could do was walk as far as the door leading out to the Freight Room. It appeared Spencer harbored an extra office, most likely for an Assistant Trainmaster or Assistant Roadmaster for the Ashland Line at one time.

Spencer also had rest rooms added.

Although the missing paint on the exterior made Spencer look pretty bad on the outside, inside, Spencer was a gem, due mostly to those that worked there as Agents. The last Agent at Spencer was Jack Burke. Jack would end up at Marshfield at the Payroll Clerk in his final years before retirement.

Jack Burke was the person responsible for the flower garden shown in Bob Wise's Soo Line in Color tome` of # 17 heading off the Main Line onto the Ashland Line, NOT the "Local Garden Club". Jack also maintained a large vegetable garden across highway 13 behind the Depot as well as one at home. Like Dad, Jack had a green thumb that knew no boundaries. The reasons Jack scaled down his gardening was losing Spencer and heart problems later on.

Spencer's Depot grew to such proportions because of it's being the Junction with the Main Line and the Ashland Line. Had the Marshfield cut-off been constructed between Marshfield and Bateman, all of the transfer and switching work of the passenger trains that took place at Spencer would have ended up in Marshfield, since the plan appears to have been that # 's 117, 118, 17 & 18 along with 5 & 6, would have all met at Marshfield instead had the cut-off become reality.

All that mail, baggage, express and LCL had to sit for a time indoors, hence, Spencer ended up some 120' long.

I know there were operational reasons for the Soo moving Spencer's depot where they did, but it was an odd place. The tracks right in front of the depot were, going east to west, the House Track, the Old Ashland Line Main, the Main Line, The Siding, and the Coal Dock Track. When there were cars left on either the Old Ashland Line main or the House, it obstructed the view down the track to one direction or another. Consequently, when MOW gangs would be put in to Spencer, they were left on either the Old Ashland Main or the House, near the Depot, and trying to see a train coming was moot.

In later years, Soo trains blasted through Spencer, the local Police having radared them at 70+ mph on numerous occasions. (It was done only to see how fast the trains were going and many persons question the accuracy of those readings). I can attest the trains were moving, folks.

I wish I could have looked it over more closely. I can't even recall the window arrangement on the side facing the highway anymore! This is another Depot I'd like to build a model of, including the missing paint. Somehow, Spencer wasn't Spencer without that missing paint.