The End of the Line

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The future of the depot will become history at this location, but the work to preserve it intact at another location is just getting started.

The Bayline Train Depot along Beach Drive in Panama City brought the first seed of tourism to Bay County, but could soon be the location of a new library. But what do you do with a historic building that's been here since 1908?

Bob Hurst, the vice president of the Bay County Historical Society, remembers when his mother took the train to Dothan, Alabama.

"It reminds us of a time when the railroad was sort of king in transportation. It reminds us of a time when the only way to get to Panama City by land was by the railroad."

According to a proposed plan by developer Robert Blackerby, the entire site just east of Johnson Bayou would house "The Village," a plan that will bring residential and retail to the area, but just because the depot isn't included in the plans doesn't mean it's going to become history.

David Jackson, the executive director of the Downtown Improvement Board, says all of the projects downtown have one focus.

"The arm of Main Street progress is about historic preservation and we've done that to a great degree in the downtown area."

Hurst says the Depot represents an era untouched.

"It is probably one of the few buildings that remains untouched in the downtown that still preserves that era of the 1920s."

The Historical Society along with the Downtown Improvement Board is working together to raise money and earn grants to relocate the depot intact.

Rebecca Saunders, the president of the Bay County Historical Society, says this isn't about a building.

"We need to know where we came from and that helps us know where we're going and we need the future generations to have something to remember."

Some even say the railroad literally put Panama City on the map. One story says the president of the original Bayline Railroad actually of his financial interests in the Panama Canal.