As part of its renovation project in celebration of the upcoming 20th anniversary of Marshall T&P Museum, the Marshall Depot Inc. and the historic Marshall T&P Railway Museum is creating a legacy, inviting all to purchase a brick paver and/or fence plaques in honor of any former T&P employee.

“We’re asking that the public help us out because, as a nonprofit, we don’t have profits sitting around,” board member Mike Martina said.

“We’d like to get the building repaired and painted, but it costs a lot of money to do that,” he said, noting estimates for the repainting of the passenger station range from $78,000 to $93,000.

“It is an expensive project, but we’re talking about something that’s going to last 20 years,” said Martina. “We’ve got other areas like the air conditioning is out at the museum and we don’t have the money to fix that, so we really need the public to kind of step up.”

Bricks are currently available for $150 each. The bricks will be placed to form a walkway to the Texas and Pacific steam locomotive Engine 400, which is part of the museum’s outdoor exhibits.

“Purchase of brick pavers will make your tribute a permanent part of the historic depot,” board members said.

Donors will be allotted up to four lines to personalize their brick in honor or in memory of a former T&P employee or any T&P supporter or train enthusiast. The bricks will have a maximum of 14 characters per line.

The plaques, which will be mounted along the fence line for all to view, are $500 and an additional $25 for the inclusion of the railroad logo.

“There are four symbols of different railroads,” Martina described. “There will be an extra charge for each one of those, but that way people can have their information for the family on those plaques and they’ll be mounted permanently on the fence with stainless steel screws.

“That’s aluminum so it’s not going to rust,” he added. “(Also) it’ll be powder-coated so the paint is always going to look good. We’re trying to get people to buy these so that we can have a legacy of the family that had worked here.”

Approximately 100 of the fence plaques are available.

Building a legacy

Board members said the fundraisers are a way to not only fund the necessary repairs and remember the employees, but also pay respects to such a pertinent part of Marshall’s history.

“The train yard really helped build Marshall over the years, and an awful lot of families were affected by what went on here in the train yard,” Martina recalled.

“T&P not only here, but in like Longview and other areas, had the same affect in those areas; so wherever the T&P touched people’s lives, we need people to step up and help us out as much as they can,” he said.

According to the history, Marshall donated 66 acres for the railway to come here. It was not only the original site for the T&P, but also served as the railway headquarters.

“Everything was built here. Locomotives were served here,” said board member Daryl Ware. “They were the general offices until the early 1880s.”

“This was a major facility,” added board member Cathy Wright.

Not only did the shops make up the primary facility for the East Texas region, but the railway also offered the best jobs in the area.

“It had the largest shops in the southwest as far as rail,” said Ware. “The highest employment was in the 1920s when they had approximately 2,000 shops. That doesn’t include every other branch in the railroad.

“And that doesn’t include any turnover where they continued to employ other families with that over the years,” added Martina.

It was also the largest employer in the area during the 50s, noted Wright.

“There are families here in Marshall where four generations worked for the T&P, and this is what we’ve got left, this building,” said Wright.

That’s why it’s so important to preserve it, she said.

“April 1, 1971 is when the shops burned, and so there’s nothing,” said Wright. “This is what’s left of the T&P in Marshall and we’ve got to save it.”

She recalled in the 80s, when Marshall almost lost the passenger station after being bought by another railway, but advocates fought to keep the station alive.

“Missouri Pacific bought the T&P and Union Pacific bought the Missouri Pacific and we lease the building from them, but they were going to tear it down in the late 80s because it was already in bad shape and they didn’t need it ...,” Wright recounted.

But thanks to a “Save Our Station” effort spearheaded by then Marshall Mayor Audrey Kariel and her husband, Louis, the station survived.

Because of their vision, both AMTRAK and Texas Eagle Market and Performance Organization (TEMPO) officials surprised the Kariels in September 2012, unveiling a plaque dedicating the station’s waiting room in their honor.

“They played a big part,” said Wright. “In 1999, we were able to open as a museum.”

The museum will host its anniversary celebration in November. Wright said because a lot of tireless work went into the saving and restoration of the place, they just cannot let that work be in vain.

“With the museum, we’ve got artifacts from the T&P, stories about the employees that worked here, so I mean we don’t want to lose our museum,” said Martina.

“It’s an important aspect of this town, so by taking care of the building, we’re also taking care of the museum,” he said. “This is a one-of-a-kind building.”

They also want to keep the legacy of the employees alive.

“Yes, we have artifacts and we save them, but one of our main objectives or goals is the people,” said Wright. “We want to keep the employees, the heart of the T&P, the families and keep their legacy (alive).”

All donations are tax deductible. Checks can be made payable to Marshall Depot Inc. and mailed to 800 N. Washington St., Suite 1, Marshall, Texas 75670. Debit and credit card orders can be done through the museum gift shop.