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South Fork gets railroad depot

Posted: Monday, Apr 14th, 2008

This old train depot was seen rolling down Highway 160. The depot’s stop was South Fork, where it has been re-located. The Rural Electric Cooperative helped out with power lines crossing the road, using a long pole, they pushed up low hanging wires so that the old building wouldn’t snag on them. Traffic was allowed to pass intermittently during the tedious move.

SOUTH FORK-- The Town of South Fork saw a unique sight last week with the arrival of a large train depot, riding along Highway 160.

So the question is, how did it get to South Fork, and what will it be used for in the future?

Build in 1893 in the town of Garrison (now Hooper), it was built to replace the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad depot that burned down that same year. The building served as the depot until 1959 and was left in disrepair after the track was abandoned. The depot was then sold to a family who placed it on the corner of a farm. There it sat for years until, finally, owner Fred Machado decided to generously donate the depot to the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Historic Foundation for the purpose of moving it to South Fork.

Don Shank, with the railroad, explained that the contractor to move the building was secured last year and the tedious task of moving the building was undertaken last week.

It was a sight to see, riding along at a snail's pace along the highway.

Moving it wasn't the only difficult part of the depot re-location operations. It took a 100-ton crane to lift the building off of the truck and place it onto the foundation at 0097 Ponderosa Drive in South Fork, where it will be opened up as a new location for the Denver and Rio Grande railroad service, which will go from South Fork to Creede.

Shank explained that they are currently working on the nomination package to place the building on the Historic Register, which will allow them to apply for grant money to restore the dilapidated old building.

"If you were around since 1893, you'd look a little worse for wear too," Shank joked. Railroad operations will start at the beginning of June.

At first, a lightweight passenger vehicle will take travelers from South Fork to Creede and back and the depot will be the operating station.

Shank explained that they are currently re-habilitating the line and said there are a lot of things on the horizon for the stretch of railway from South Fork to Creede.

"We are excited about the project moving forward," he said, adding that the depot will employee a station agent in June.

Shank said the Denver and Rio Grande railway reached South Fork more than 100 years ago; however, it took around 120 years for the Denver and Rio Grande depot to srrive.

"We are trilled to receive the depot," Shank said, adding that the company was very grateful to Machado for the generous donation.

Shank explained that the citizens in both South Fork and Creede have been very excited about this project, as well as very supportive.

By June, people will be able to get an up-close look at the historic depot and it will again see trains moving to and from it, after many years without them.

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