Friday, December 8, 2017
Ray Lueb shipped out of Oklahoma City's downtown Santa Fe railroad station in January 1944, a 19-year-old Marine recruit on his way to the war in the Pacific.
Thursday, he was back for the dedication of the restored Art Deco-era landmark — and pronounced it "altogether different" than it was in the war years, when both were younger.
City leaders were marking a milestone in the depot's transformation to serve passenger rail, the MAPS 3 streetcar and, down the road, commuter and light-rail.
As if on cue, a BNSF Railway freight rumbled past as Mayor Mick Cornett praised the federal, state and local partnership — in concert with the railroad — that is making the $28.4 million project a reality.
The restoration shows community values at work, preserving what could be lost, he said.
"This generation said, 'No, we're going to do it right,'" Cornett said.
The renovated depot has office space for the city's transit authority, a gift store and tour service, and the Pinkitzel candy and cupcake shop, which endured two years of construction.
A waiting room for Amtrak passengers features a bench true to the depot's 1934 furnishings.