Just a few miles from your hotel in Shawnee, OK is the Pottawatomie County Museum, former Santa Fe Depot. Built in 1903, it served as the regional train depot until 1973. Now owned and operated by the Historical Society, it houses a variety of artifacts and works of art. Explore the history of Pottawatomie County, track your genealogy, and explore the rich exhibits and events hosted at the historic site.
Archiving the region’s history began in earnest in 1926 thanks to local librarian R.W. Funk. She invited residents to the Shawnee Carnegie Library’s auditorium to discuss founding a historical society. One year later, the by-laws and constitution were penned, forming the foundation for the Society which now hosts the various events at the museum.
History in the Making
By 1936, photographs and artifacts were being collected throughout the region. Managed by the Society, the project grew to include a donation of the Friend’s Mission Church. A former school for the Shawnee tribe, the building was restored and became the first permanent home to the archives. However, when the Santa Fe Depot Station was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, the Society was selected as the organization to maintain the building’s history and the museum was created.
Throughout the 70s and 80s, the Depot area was the highlight of the Santa Fe Days Parade featuring Native dances, square dancing, tours and more. The museum underwent a renovation in 1986 and re-opened to grand acclaim. It remains one of the most historically relevant sites in Shawnee, and is a must-visit for all guests.