Tracking down history

The Marcia Car offers a glimpse into the area's railroad past

In a brochure distributed by the Craig Chamber of Commerce, the railroad car that sits across the street from the Craig Chamber, called the Marcia Car, is described as "one of Craig's most prized historical possessions."

But Patricia Stauffer, office manager at the Craig Chamber of Commerce, said most people that visit the Marcia Car aren't from Craig, and that many residents don't even know what it is.

"Most of the visitors are from out of town," she said. "I've lived here all of my life and I hadn't been in it until I started to work at the chamber two and a half years ago. I think it's a wonderful historical object."

Tours of the nearly 100-year-old train car are available Monday through Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day every summer.

People can come to the Craig Chamber of Commerce anytime during office hours and ask someone

in the office for a tour, Stauffer

said.

Even if it's gone undiscovered by many local residents, Craig Chamber of Commerce Sportsman's Information Specialist Tony Stoffle said it hasn't gone unnoticed by those with an interest in the railroad.

"It's a well-known car amongst railroad buffs," Stoffle said.

A few years ago, he said, a man from Denver came and took pictures of the Marcia Car and, using those pictures, made three model cars for his model railroad car collection.

The history

The Marcia Car is named for Marcia Moffat McClurg, daughter of David H. Moffat, for whom Moffat County is named.

Moffat was a successful Colorado businessman who had a dream to expand the railroad into Northwest Colorado, eventually connecting Denver to Salt Lake City.

Moffat had the state-of-the-art Marcia Car built by the Pullman Company of Chicago in 1906 at a cost of $24,568.

"You couldn't build it for a million dollars today," Stoffle said.

Moffat used the car for his inspection trips of the construction of the Moffat Railroad line running through Northwest Colorado.

He also used it to entertain potential business partners.

"He used it to take investors down the line and get them to invest in the railroad," Stoffle said.

Moffat's quest to expand the railroad to the coalfields of Northwest Colorado began in 1903.

The railroad reached Steamboat Springs in 1908, but the financing for the railway was beginning to weigh heavily on Moffat's pocket book.

He went to New York in 1911 seeking financial backing for his project, but died during the trip.

Moffat's railroad dream died along with him when the project went bankrupt a year later.

New investors were able to expand the railroad to Craig a year later, but it was there that it stopped.

The car

The Marcia Car sat in Denver for several years until 1953 when D&RGWRR, which owned the car, gave it to Craig with the understanding that it be used for "utilitarian purposes and be open to visitors at reasonable times."

"The president of the railroad was trying to decide what to do with the car," Stoffle said. "Since the railroad ended in Craig they figured it should be placed here."

The Craig Chamber of Commerce has tried to stick by the agreement originally laid out when the city was granted the car in 1953.

"People can just come to the Chamber of Commerce and ask for a tour," he said.

"Most of the time we have enough personnel here to do it."

Despite a fire in one part of the car that required extensive remodeling in 1987, most of the car is the same as it was when Moffat took investors on luxurious trips almost 100 years ago, Stoffle said.

The section of the car in which Moffat and his guests stayed is made of African Mahogany, inlaid with oak. Stoffle said it is important that money be spent to upkeep the classic train car.

"We're trying to get some grants to do some more refurbishing," he said. "The outside of the car needs some work."

But the inside was and still is something of elegance, Stoffle said.

The car slept 12 people and had a special area that housed two servants.

Ringers were installed throughout the car that Moffat and his guests could press at any time to call on the servants.

It had private bedrooms, a kitchen and bathrooms.

"This was the original RV," Stoffle said. "It was the ultimate mode of travel in the early 1900s."

Referring to the fine wood craftsmanship on the inside of the car, Stoffle said it's unlikely the car could even be recreated today.

"There's very few craftsmen left that can do this kind of work,"

he said.

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