By June 1900, Gold Hill’s train depot sat on this now-vacant Fourth Street lot. It was taken apart in 1962 and its lumber was used to build a dance hall for a local square dance group.

Where did the Gold Hill Depot go?

As we trundle through our lives, things come and go and sometimes we hardly even notice.

One generation might very well care less when an old building that long ago lost its usefulness is taken apart, but eventually, perhaps 50 years later, someone in the next generation asks a question: "Where did it go?"

That's where curious readers come in. They have the questions that keep inquiring minds inquiring.

Reader Wil Scarrow is interested in the Gold Hill Train Depot.

"Where was it, how large was it, where is it now?" he asked.

Some answers are easy, but others require some microfilm, a few reference books, maybe some telephone calls, trips to libraries and historical societies — and often, a clue from the Mail Tribune's fabulous keeper of the past, librarian Pam Sieg.

It's taken a few weeks, but now we know.

In the spring of 1883, Thomas Chavner, who owned the land that would become Gold Hill, agreed to let the Oregon & California Railroad pass through his property on its way to Ashland.

The new town was surveyed and platted, with the railroad owning half the lots and Chavner the others.

A small wooden depot, no larger than 15-by-20 feet, was built in the middle of Fourth Street between the main rail line and a side spur.

In 1900, the Southern Pacific Railroad, which had taken control of the Oregon & California line in 1887, sent eight carpenters to build the town a new depot.

"It will not only be a great improvement to our town," said Floyd Churchill, editor of the Gold Hill Press, "but will be useful to the traveling public."

The depot measured 24-by-86 feet and included a baggage room, an office, a freight depot and a waiting room larger than the one in the old depot. The walls went up and were painted in a little more than a month.

Churchill joked that station agent Oliver Purkeypile was "bewildered" and needed a compass to find his way around his new large office.

Flash ahead to 1962. Passenger train service now went through Klamath Falls. The Gold Hill Depot was no longer needed.

The Y-Knot Twirlers Square Dance Club acquired the building from the Southern Pacific and began to dismantle it. The original wood was stored in a Medford warehouse until 1964, when the club found a lot and began building a dance hall and headquarters from the reclaimed lumber on the corner of Table Rock and Schulz roads.

Club members built "Twirlers Hall" to resemble but not imitate the old depot.

In 1989, the Twirlers donated the building to the Star Promenaders, one of the area's oldest square-dancing clubs. Two years later, the Promenaders began building their own new building.

"We built our new hall in 1991-1992," said Star Promenaders president Don Korner. "We moved in 1992."

Left behind, the old depot has stayed put and it hasn't seen a train or watched an "allemande left" for decades. In fact, its bright-blue painted walls seem awfully lonely these days.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at

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