The Wayzata Depot was built in 1906 by James J. Hill, owner of the Great Northern Railroad. The English Tudor structure, designed by architect Samuel Bartlett, was noted for its hot water heat and indoor plumbing and at one time was considered the handsomest depot on the line.
The first train came to town on August 24, 1867. At the time, Wayzata was the end of the line for the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, predecessor of the Great Northern. The first depot was located east of here, near Broadway Avenue. As the line expended westward, Wayzata citizens were outraged when a crew began laying ties on the stage road that ran in front of their shops, threatening to subject the town to a barrage of cinders and sparks. Thus began the famous feud between Wayzata and the "Empire Builder" Hill.
Hill is said to have threatened to wipe Wayzata off the map. He razed the Broadway Depot in 1893 and relocated the train stop a mile to the east, where he built a small depot named Holdridge. Tradition has it that Hill threatened, "Wayzata residents can walk a mile for the next 20 years!" Still, to accommodate his influential friends on the west end of town, Hill provided the Ferndale platform train stop. After twelve years of Wayzata residents trudging through marshy terrain to reach the train, Hill relented and built the present depot, putting Wayzata back on the map.
The railroad was central to the "Golden Age" (1867-1929) in Wayzata as people from Southern states came to the village by train to enjoy the cool summer breezes on Lake Minnetonka. Large steam boats transported visitors to the numerous hotels built to accommodate these Southern guests, and Wayzata flourished and grew.
In 1971, the Great Northern railroad closed the depot and donated it to the city of Wayzata. Currently, coal, grain and mixed freight trains pass through Wayzata with Burlington Northern Santa Fe destinations throughout the western half of the United States.