Discovery Depot

The Discovery Depot in Galesburg offer many interactive and educational activities for children.

Submitted Photo

Getting to the station well in advance of your train’s arrival allows for extra time to find a good parking spot and to get oriented with the layout of the station and its platform.

Arriving early also provides an opportunity to explore the area around the station, which is how my family and I were introduced in 2009 to the Discovery Depot children’s museum and other attractions in downtown Galesburg. My daughter and I paid a return visit to this museum in March before boarding a westbound Amtrak train.

Discovery Depot is located within a remodeled creamery building within easy walking distance and plain view of the station. Galesburg’s status as a busy rail town with multiple Amtrak routes and an expansive rail yard is reflected at this museum, where a real caboose is displayed outside and a play locomotive engine is exhibited inside.

Now in its 12th year of operation, Discovery Depot has a mission to provide an environment of fun and educational experiences for children. Much of the museum’s central floor, for example, is devoted to interactive exhibits where children can pretend they are running a grocery store or a diner.

Some of the museum’s other exhibits include a Water Works flume system where children can use pipes and other materials to control the flow of water, a food pyramid-themed rock climbing wall, a small barn that houses farm-related activities, and a slide shaped like a tree house.

My 6-year-old daughter particularly enjoyed suiting up in firefighter turnout gear and crawling through a fire truck ladder-style tunnel in a exhibit area about emergency responders. Children also can climb inside portions of a real ambulance and police squad car in this area.

Within Discovery Depot’s fenced-in backyard, my daughter burned off some energy on a playground that was installed in 2008 and still looks brand new. She swooshed down the slides and clung to a spider web-like climbing structure.

The interactive exhibits and playground at Discovery Depot provided an excellent way to pass the time while waiting for our train. I hope that our next train trip out of Galesburg will coincide with one of this museum’s many special programs, which include children’s music shows.

Discovery Depot is not the only museum within easy walking distance of the train station. The Galesburg Railroad Museum, located next to the station, houses a large collection of railroad memorabilia in and around its depot-style building.

Visitors to the railroad museum can tour a 1930 passenger engine, a railroad mail car, a Pullman parlor car, a caboose and two 1950s track inspection cars. I did not get to go inside this museum, which opens for the season in April, but I still enjoyed seeing the exteriors of the vintage cars that are displayed outside.

During my trip in March to Galesburg, I noted that both Discovery Depot and the Galesburg Railroad Museum are located near the Seminary Street Historic District. This revitalized three-block section of downtown is home to many restaurants, shops and other small businesses.

I plan to eventually revisit the Seminary Street district so that I can try some of the restaurants there, such as the Packinghouse Dining Company. This steak house is located within a turn-of-the-last-century packing plant that faces the Amtrak station.

With so many attractions located within walking distance of the station, I am going to need to make sure that I arrive extra early the next time I hop on a train there.

This column and previous entries in the series also can be read at www.facebook.com/RobStroud.DayTripper.

Rob Stroud is a staff writer for the JG-TC. Contact him at rstroud@jg-tc.com or 238-6861.

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