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Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Prior to the beautiful brick building that houses our museum today, a large wooden depot stood on the exact same foundation footprint. It had been built at the time of the city’s founding in 1888.

The wooden depot building greeted the Disney’s when they moved from Chicago in April 1906. Flora Disney arrived first with Roy, Walt, and Ruth. Elias Disney and the two older sons, Herbert and Raymond, followed a few days later in a boxcar, loaded with the family belongings, along with two horses that Elias had bought in the Chicago stockyards.

You can imagine the excitement of 4-year old Walt, riding the train to his new home in the country! Leaving behind the crowds of Chicago, traveling through the rolling hills and treelined fields, arriving at the depot in Marceline, dreaming of all the new adventures that awaited him at his new home, on a farm with apple orchards and barnyard animals.

Walt later said that he clearly remembered the day he arrived here on the train. His first impression of the farm was that it had a beautiful front yard with lots of trees, something they certainly didn’t have in Chicago.

When the Disney family moved on to Kansas City in 1911, the wooden Santa Fe depot was still here to say good-bye. The building would be moved not long afterwards to allow for the construction and opening of the brick depot we still have today.

Newspaper clipping from 1911.

On April 10, 1913, the new Santa Fe passenger station and office building was dedicated. The magnificent building boasted 107 windows and over 200 – 100-watt electric lights, one of the finest depots in the nation. The Marceline Santa Fe depot was closed in the 1980s. The depot stood empty until 1999 when it was purchased from the Santa Fe railroad. It was subsequently renovated and converted into the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, which opened in 2001.

The 16-foot clock in the adjacent garden area was donated to us on June 3rd, 2023, from Citizen’s Watches, it is an exact replica of the prominent street clock on Main Street USA in Disney World. At night it glows and lights up the entire garden area.

Walt Disney’s love for trains is well documented. That love started here in Marceline. So it just feels right, that a museum in his honor is now filling the rooms of the old Santa Fe Depot in his hometown.


This image of Main Street is exactly how it would have looked when the Disney’s arrived. The city did not complete installation of the brick paver’s until 1912, so by the dirt street, we can tell this picture was taken sometime between 1905, after the completion of the Allen Hotel and 1912, before the completion of brick pavers. You will notice that our downtown has not changed much over the last century.

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