The Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado, with help from Colorado Preservation, Inc., is trying to renovate the historic train depot at the south end of Yampa Avenue.  The building was built in 1917 as the final stop for the Moffat rail line and is on Colorado's Most Endangered Places list.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

The Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado, with help from Colorado Preservation, Inc., is trying to renovate the historic train depot at the south end of Yampa Avenue. The building was built in 1917 as the final stop for the Moffat rail line and is on Colorado's Most Endangered Places list.

End of the line

Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado making steps to preserve depot

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History of the Craig Depot

• 1902: David Moffat announces plan to build a railroad from Denver to California

• Nov. 22, 1913: Moffat Railroad arrives in Craig

• March 1917: The depot is dedicated with a community party; the first passenger train uses the depot

• 1968: Last passenger train uses the depot

• 1985: Depot closed

Sources: Museum of Northwest Colorado, Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado

— A brick edifice stands on the south end of Yampa Avenue, where the road ends and the railroad tracks begin.

Weathered plywood covers the windows and the platform facing the railroad tracks is empty.

Alone and hidden behind newer buildings, it sits silently in the snow.

However, this abandoned train depot was once a hub of activity. After the Moffat Railroad came to Craig in 1913, it was the final stop on a transportation artery connecting Craig with Colorado's Front Range, said Pam Foster, Board member on the Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado.

The depot was the end of the line, in more ways than one, she said.

"It's important because it's a true historical landmark : the last depot built on the Moffat rail line," Foster said, adding that the depot also marks where that railway ended when the rail line fell on hard financial times.

Foster and other Community Foundation members intend to help preserve this final stop.

The foundation, which was incorporated 10 years ago, aims at maintaining local landmarks - those that can be visited long after this generation has gone.

"Our mission is to accomplish tangible projects throughout Moffat County," Foster said. "We're hoping that if the younger generation sees this generation preserving (historical) landmarks, it will set a precedent."

The foundation initially formed to preserve the Cowboy and Gunfighter Collection, now located in the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

Although the collection owner wanted to sell the gunfighter collection, a survey indicated that the community wanted to keep it in Moffat County. The foundation was able to strike a compromise by buying the collection - valued at nearly $1 million, Foster said - and housing it in the museum.

Now, the foundation sights are set on the depot.

"The depot is near and dear to the hearts of the people on the board, along with the community," said foundation chairperson Patt McCaffrey.

The preservation group intends to renovate the building. Eventually, it may turn the former depot into a restaurant -"something that is self-sufficient so it's not a burden on tax payers," Foster said.

Still, the foundation must obtain the building before it can make any preservation plans a reality.

The Union Pacific Railroad currently owns the building. The foundation and other historical preservation groups have negotiated with the railroad for at least 20 years, trying to acquire the building, Foster said.

Those negotiations didn't yield the results Foster said she was hoping for.

Although Union-Pacific officials said they would donate the building to the preservation group four years ago, final paperwork didn't go through, Foster said.

"They never donated it to us," she said.

Foster hasn't given up yet.

"We're willing to look at any option with the Union Pacific Railroad to preserve this depot," she said.

Union Pacific officials were unavailable for comment.

The Community Foundation may get help from another source - Colorado Preservation, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving historical sites throughout the state.

The organization compiles a list of Colorado's Most Endangered Places.

The depot is on the organization's final selection list, Foster said. The final selection, which will include up to six finalists, will be announced Feb. 7 in the organization's Denver conference.

What can a place on the Colorado's Most Endangered Places list do for the depot?

The award may give the depot - and Moffat County - some much needed publicity, Foster said.

She said she hopes that the publicity will make residents more aware of the depot - a last stop on the line.

For Foster, it's an opportunity worth hoping for.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," she said.

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