Between the tracks

No decision yet on which of two suitors will get Union Pacific depot

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Past a block of tractors and farm equipment, next to rusted railroad tracks, sits the abandoned Craig train depot with its windows boarded shut and asbestos removal notices posted on its padlocked doors.

The depot's owner, Union Pacific Railroad, is weighing the requests of two Craig historical interests that say they want the building, said John Bromley, regional communications director for Union Pacific.

"Nobody's made a decision yet," Bromley said.

The Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado has been working for years with Union Pacific to acquire the depot, and Bromley said his company is discussing donating the building to that organization. Community foundation members say they would preserve the building at its current site between Yampa and Breeze Streets downtown.

But Lou Wyman, owner of the Living History Ranch east of Craig, also has expressed interest in acquiring the depot. He would move the building to his ranch, where he would restore and display it along with other historical buildings, such as the Pagoda Store.

Wyman's request interests the railroad because he is willing to move the depot.

"We do have some safety concerns about leaving the depot at the tracks," Bromley said.

The tracks beside the depot are used primarily by trains transporting coal from local mines.

But the community foundation already has plans to mitigate safety hazards by constructing a fence between the depot and the tracks, said Kathy Ross, a member of the community foundation.

The Craig City Council has offered to write a letter of support to Union Pacific to encourage it to donate the depot to the community foundation. Although a portion of the depot extends into Third Street, which is city property, the Council is not going to make an issue of it, Ross said.

But when the community foundation asked the commissioners for support, the foundation's members heard only questions about their financial situation.

The commissioners covered the expense of the cowboy and gunfighter collection when the community foundation, then called the Museum of Northwest Colorado Foundation, bought it from a western artifacts dealer.

Since then, the community foundation has paid back $435,454, but still owes the county $274,545.

Although the commissioners said they are still considering who they will support, they have voiced support for Wyman's efforts to develop a museum-style ranch, saying it could be a tourist attraction here.

Meanwhile, Union Pacific is selling its unused property in the rail yard and has been doing so since the late 1990s, Bromley said.

"Anywhere we have extra property we try to sell it," he said.

But the railroad is not attempting to divest itself of the rail yard, he said.

The company is selling three 20,000-square foot lots zoned for industrial use, and two several-acre lots zoned for agriculture.

He wasn't sure where these lots were located in reference to the depot.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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