WESTVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – The year is 1873. The first telephone hasn’t even been invented yet. The first type writer just started production, and the town of Westville is getting its start.
Then, 1885 hit and Westville was booming.
“We call ourselves one of the melting pots of Illinois. Lots of different ethnicity groups. Every little part of town had its own nickname, like there was Sardine Path and Klondike, and each had its own little grocery store at the corner and they were pretty much all coal miners,” Roseann Viktora, A depot museum committee member, said.
That’s when Mike Kelly came in and started several coal mines. Which later led to the Chicago and Eastern Illinois rail line running through town.
“There used to be a railroad track right alongside here, right about where the caboose is, and it was a passenger train, coal train and it carried a lot of the coal miners back and forth as well,” she said.
And the train depot was built. Where passengers would get their tickets or coal miners would wait for their ride. Now, it sits memorialized.
“It’s just a wonderful piece of history,” Viktora said.
The original depot still sits right where it was built. Filled with memories and history of Westville.
“Lots of train memorabilia and the coal mining hats,” she said. “It’s just the way Westville used to look.”
And lots, and lots of pictures.
“Reminiscing. Going through the pictures of when we grew up. The big parades, and we still have the big parades, and the drug store that we all used to hang out in, and the high school pictures,” she said. “It’s just great to reminisce,” she said, pointing out pictures on a wall. “That’s my grandmother right there. She’s working the old switch board.”
So, if you ever want to learn about the history of the town, or travel back in time, take a step into the train depot.
You never know what you might find in Our Town Westville.