Bill Shue reflects on his memories of the Moffat Line on Thursday during Railroad Evening at the Center of Craig. The event, sponsored by the Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado, honored contributions by the railroad to growth and development of the city and featured residents sharing memories of the Moffat Line.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Bill Shue reflects on his memories of the Moffat Line on Thursday during Railroad Evening at the Center of Craig. The event, sponsored by the Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado, honored contributions by the railroad to growth and development of the city and featured residents sharing memories of the Moffat Line.

Crossing tracks

Train enthusiasts share stories, work to save depot

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— A loud whistle, the scent of coal, and an increasing rumble vibrating through the ground.

Shannan Koucherik loves these sensations as a result of growing up around the trains of the New York area. Although she did not experience the railroad of Moffat County during this time, she has retained her appreciation for locomotives of all types and locations into adulthood.

"A railroad is a railroad is a railroad," she said.

Train aficionados of all ages attended "Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow!" Thursday at the Center of Craig to share their life experiences with the railroad in Moffat County, or anywhere else. The Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado, an organization committed to restoring the history of the region, sponsored the event.

Childhood fantasies of riding the rails, and recollections of family vacations were prevalent as Craig residents stood up to recount their involvement with the mode of transport.

Jim Meineke spoke about his family's history with shipping cattle on trains.

"My wife and I like to tour old, restored train depots when we travel," Meineke said. "Trains are important to us."

A CFNWC board member, Meineke works with the group in the efforts to restore the Craig Railroad Depot, which has been a subject of negotiation between the organization and Union Pacific since 2001. The depot is one of Colorado Preservation's "most endangered places."

"It's a crying shame that the depot isn't a historical building," Meineke said. "It holds a lot of meaning to a lot of meaning to a lot of people. For some of the soldiers who shipped out of here in World War II, it was the last thing they ever saw in Craig. Please join the effort to give the building back to the community and turn a negative into a positive."

Fellow board member Sasha Nelson believes that the restoration of the depot could lead to an interest in history for future generations.

"When I was a teenager, I gave tours of the Marcia train car by the park," she said. "It got me interested in trains, and it helped me connect with my grandfather, who really loves trains."

Nelson and her grandfather studied trains worldwide, including The Ghan in Australia, which reached completion of its construction - which took more than 100 years - in 2004. Nelson plans to ride the Canadian Pacific one day in honor of her grandfather, who died before being able to board the Canadian train, a motivation for her to get involved with the cause of the depot.

"I hope that people feel a sense of sadness or remembrance that so many buildings like the depot are being lost, because they really connect us to our history," Nelson said.

CFNWC chairperson Patricia McCaffrey emphasized the importance of the depot as a part of Craig's history.

"It's overwhelming to see the way that people talk about it," she said. "It's the perfect way to tie in to Craig's centennial, because it really adds to the relevance."

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 875-1796.

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