The old Kansas City Southern Railway Depot in Stilwell was built in 1912 and restored in 1994. Today it houses offices for four organizations:
Adair County Historical and Genealogical Association
Stilwell Area Chamber of Commerce
Kibois Area Transit System
Community Action Agency
I was passing through Stilwell on a road trip in November, 2006. A sign in front of the depot said that they had tourist information available. Since I love to see old railroad stations, and am always looking for information about things to see and do in an area, I stopped and went inside. There I found helpful literature about the area, and also met a remarkabe woman that I tell about in my "local customs" tip.
Open Monday thru Friday
10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
As I was browsing through the Visitor Information literature rack at The Depot, a very nice lady asked if she could help me. We talked for a while and I learned that her name is Betty Barker, President of the Stilwater Chamber of Commerce.
When I told Ms. Barker that I was originally from Cleveland, Tennessee her face immediately lit up and she told me she had been to Cleveland many times to trace her family roots. Cleveland, and particularly Red Clay State Park, was one of the primary gathering places for Cherokees to begin their long and bitter Trail of Tears during the "Indian Removal" of the early 1800s. I learned that Ms. Barker's Cherokee ancestors had been among the survivors of the Trail of Tears. One of her Great Grandmothers, was Nancy Ward (1738-1822), a Cherokee princess and prophetess who was the most powerful and influencial Cherokee Indian woman in recorded history.
Nancy Ward's grave sits on a hill overlooking the Ocoee River in East Tennessee, a place I have visited several times, just a few miles from where I grew up. In fact, I have a travel tip about Nancy Ward in my "Tennessee Back Roads and Byways" page.
I had a delightful conversation with Betty Barker and it was one of those "small world" moments that help to make travel so rewarding.