During the early and mid 20th century, Weingarten had a population of 99 with 2 stores, a bank and a hotel. Much of the surrounding land was covered with family farms, orchards and timber. Besides the depot, the railroad had a passing siding, team track and a water tank.
Steam locomotive crews departing from Ste Genevieve were happy to fill up at the Weingarten water tank, as it was fed from a clear, natural spring-fed creek about a mile down the hill. One employee was responsible for manning the pump to assure an adequate supply was always available.
Anna Hogenmiller was the station agent in the 1950’s. Uniquely, the M-I installed a railroad telephone line at her house, allowing her to multi-task and “work remotely” tending to home chores as well as station duties.
Unbeknownst to many Missourians, a large prisoner of war camp was built in Weingarten during World War II. With the power of eminent domain, the U.S. government took over several large family farms and constructed hundreds of buildings to house nearly 5,000 Italian POWs. All arrived in Weingarten via passenger coach from the east coast via the MoPac interchange at Bismarck.
During WWII, Liberty ships dispatched supplies to the European theater; upon return, the ships were empty, so POWs were transported to the U.S. Of the 500 or so stateside POW camps, most were built in rural southern locations to lessen heating needs in the winter. At the Weingarten location, Italian soldiers earned wages and often helped local farmers since most of the young farm hands were away at war.
The scratch-built depot is depicted in the middle MoPac style: rather simple and painted Colonial Yellow with brown trim. Since opposing trains rarely appear on the M-I, I opted to eliminate the passing siding to conserve space. Therefore, switching at Weingarten is limited to southward trains only.
Given the surrounding vast timberland, many wood products such as cross ties, cordwood and mine props are shipped from Weingarten, including pine stumps bound for the turpentine plants in Louisiana. As usual, the occasional passenger is accommodated.