Best of Mess photo - Nov. 25, 2020

Dave Bentley, Craig Hagman, Judy Cain, Bill Konze, Jesse Giddings, and Roger Danielson, representing a mixture Onamia city officials and Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council members, met at the renovated Onamia Depot.

Photo taken from the Nov. 22, 2000 issue of the Messenger.

Mille Lacs Tourism Council sets up shop in Onamia Depot

The job of saving the Onamia Depot began nearly a decade ago in 1991. With two generous donations from the Onamia Lions Club, the hard work of numerous volunteers, as well as a few dozen raffles and hog roasts, the Adopt-a-Depot project kept inching its way toward making the dream of saving one of Onamia’s most significant pieces of history come true. That dream is no longer a pipe dream.

The Onamia Depot has not only been saved, it been restored to its glory days and will open its brand new glass doors on Dec. 1 when it becomes the home of its very first tenant – The Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council.

“There’s so many people to thank for this project,” said Bill Konze, who was one of many volunteers that organized the restoration project. “It would not have happened without them, and it would not have happened without the donations from the Onamia Lions. They supported us from the beginning and came through twice with donations.”

Keeping a project going for nearly 10 years is no small feat, and Konze said he wasn’t surprised that at times people would get impatient to see something happen. If patience is its own reward, then that day has finally come, and the Onamia Depot, located on the Soo Line snowmobile and bike trail, is on its way to becoming an active center for community activities once again.

Officials from the City of Onamia and members of the tourism council met last week to check out the renovated depot.

In need of some furniture and smelling of fresh paint, the depot has been transformed from a worn-out hull, listing like a sinking ship, into a structure that has been completely restored to recapture the beauty of its heyday.

Members of the tourism council expressed their delight not only for the completion of the renovation project but for the fact that the depot has given the organization a great new location and home.

The tourism council is made up of resorts and businesses from around Mille Lacs Lake and is fast becoming one of the major promotional organizations in Minnesota.

Council board members and Adopt-a-Depot members are seeking donations of furniture that would fit the decor of the old depot. Specially needed are conference tables, desks and chairs. Railroad memorabilia and lake memorabilia would also be appreciated.

If you’d like to donate some items, call Judy Cain at [phone number redacted].

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