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Blandford Depot to be dedicated

POSTED: April 11, 2013 7:58 p.m.
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Blandford Depot at Blandford Station. The building on far left is Lavan Kessler’s grocery store. At left is Herman Bartow Dugger and the person on the right is unknown, perhaps someone from the railroad.

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In 2011, Sandra Nease Hendrix and Tracey Nease Kieffer donated the building that once was the Blandford Depot to Historic Effingham Society to be relocated and restored on the Living History Site in Springfield. The abandoned depot building was relocated to the property of their grandfather Russell Nease to use for a barn in March 1967.


The sisters paid for relocation of the former depot from the Blandford area, just outside the city limits of Rincon, on what is now the Norfork Southern Railway, to its new spot at the Living History Site.


Through a generous donation, the depot has been restored. The donation was given in memory of Charlotte Rahn Hutto, a former station agent in the Stillwell Depot, by her grandson Francis Hutto.


On Saturday at 11 a.m., the restored Blandford Depot will be dedicated and opened on the Living History Site with a ribbon cutting during Olde Effingham Day. The restored depot sits beside the former Boy Scout Hut.


Mr. Herman Bartow Dugger was section foreman of the Blandford Depot from 1915-1955. He and wife Laucy Zipperer Dugger had three daughters: the late Matilda D. Rahn, the late Clara D. Rahn and Claudine D. Arnsdorff.


Memories of Mrs. Claudine help tell the story of the depot. I have not determined when the building was erected, but it was part of the Brinson Railroad constructed about 1907-08 that came through the county. This is said to be the second depot on the site, possibly due to deterioration.


The Blandford Depot sat at Blandford Station on what is now the southwest corner, where McCall Road crosses the Norfork Southern Railroad on Blandford/BlueJay Road. Lavan Kessler had a grocery store on the Rincon side of the railroad.


Mr. Dugger, the section foreman for the S&A Railway (Savannah and Atlanta Railway), was responsible for 10 miles of track to maintain from Dickey to Central Junction. The depot was one open room with a large, covered platform. There was a grinding wheel used to keep tools that the workers used sharpened. They had a telephone box on a pole on the northeast side of the depot near the steps where the section foreman received their daily work schedule and gave reports. Mr. Dugger was there at 8 a.m. every morning for the call.


Freight was handled without billing and it was difficult to trace. All the shippers got was a little piece of paper as a receipt and hoped the items shipped got to their destination. A large amount of what was shipped from Blandford was farm produce such as potatoes. Guano, fertilizer, was shipped in for the local farmers.


Mr. Dugger had a motor car that he kept on a side track to maintain his area. Some of the rail workers in his section were Murphy Evans, James Morrison, Henry Sanders, Coley Scott and Melvin Williams. For many years, there were no fence laws in Effingham. Lots of cows were killed by the train and had to be removed from the tracks.


Monday morning was “wash day” when laundry was done in Blandford but no clothes were hung on the line to dry until the train had passed, lest someone’s knickers might be in view.


From time to time “shanty cars” were parked on the side track when major repairs were done. The cars were moved from place to place as needed and housed the work crew there overnight.


When the car was at Blandford, its water tank was refilled from the Dugger house. There was a cook to prepare meals for the workers while the shanty car was parked there. Biscuits and cornbread were staple menu items. Mrs. Claudine remembers when Leonard Parrish was there for a stint, they ate supper over there one night and that the food was good. The men lived there for a week or so until the job was done.


The rail workers got paid twice a month. Local men like Mr. Dugger went to Springfield to cash their checks at the Exchange Bank and buy groceries.


After Mr. Dugger retired, changes came to the ownership of the railroad. The depot was abandoned and Claudine’s children, Linda and Wendell Arnsdorff, recall playing in the old empty building before Russell Nease moved it to his property in 1967.


Join us Saturday for Olde Effingham Day and a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. Historic Effingham’s Living History Site will be open 10 a.m-5 p.m. We will be selling our famous hash and rice as well as hamburgers, hotdogs and drinks. The ladies will have a bake sale, so please support our museum by purchasing some tasty treats.


This was compiled by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society from information provided Mrs. Claudine Arnsdorff. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at hesexleyherald@aol.com.

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