Trains, both passenger and freight, first came into Winterset in 1872 to this depot that was then located between 8th and 9th Streets on East North Street. For many years, the train was the fastest means of transportation to Des Moines and beyond. The depot was an exciting place to be before automobiles and airplanes came into fashion. Store owners would leave from here to go on buying trips to the East, where they saw the latest products to order for sale in their shops. Families would gather here to tearfully send their sons and fathers off to World War I, and to meet them when they returned.
Businesses lobbied for a more modern depot to be built closer to Winterset’s Commercial District. Rather than expend the funds to build a new depot, in 1909, the railroad company lifted the depot by jacks and placed it on two flatbed cars. They hauled it 10 blocks west by rail to North Street to North 1st Avenue. With the advent of other forms of commercial transportation, the Rock Island Railroad depot closed in 1976 although 40 trains per day continued to carry off quarried limestone on its rails.
The Winterset Depot was moved from its downtown location to the Historical Complex in 1984 and restored in 1991.