In the fall of 1882, four people filed claims in four sections of land - four corners of which touched two blocks west of the depot. The purpose of the action was to bargain with the railroad for location of the depot by offering up land.
Ontario was born with the arrival of the railroad in 1883. Prior to that, Winnemucca, Nevada, 150 miles away, was the closest railroad available for coast-to-coast passenger, livestock and freight service.
In the fall of 1883, the first depot was constructed. It was a small rectangular building that provided passenger services, freight service and small living quarters. On January 1, 1884, Ontario had its first railroad service.
In 1907 the present sandstone and brick building was erected. Except for some interior remodeling over the years, the exterior has remained exactly the same and is in sound condition. Since 1907 thousands of people have passed through the depot, especially during World War I and World War II.
The well-developed agricultural base of the local economy can be directly attributed to the railroad and the passenger and freight depot service. Of historical significance is the fact that during the first World War, this depot was the largest shipper of wool in the United States.
The depot is the only and oldest existing building that has played a role in the early development of every aspect of our economy in the Western Treasure Valley. The depot laid the foundation that is being built on today.
In 1997, Union Pacific gave the historic depot to the City of Ontario. The railroad leased a portion of the north end until 2007, when they were relocated by the Basque Club to their current location south of the depot.