100-year-old depot built when rail reigned
The whole town of Glenwood Springs threw a birthday bash for Glenwood’s train depot during this year’s Strawberry Days, but the century-old station wasn’t seeing much action Sunday. The 107th Strawberry Days’ theme this year was, “All Aboard!,” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Glenwood’s historic depot.While vendors and entertainers transformed Sayre Park into a miniature metropolis – complete with concerts, cuisine, a petting zoo, magic shows, and all sorts of artisan-made products, the Glenwood Springs High School campus turned into carnival central, with enough stomach-turning rides to upset even the toughest tummy.
However, over on Seventh Street, at the Glenwood Springs train station, the cavernous oak-lined reception room was empty, and just a couple people wandered through the depot’s train museum.”Yesterday, we had more than 100 people come by,” said John Ainslie, a museum volunteer, and a member of the Western Colorado Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, on Sunday. “It’s a little quieter today.”What a contrast to Strawberry Day, on June 18, 1904, when Glenwood’s fruit festival was just one day long, and the train station was exploding with activity.A hundred years ago, the train station began operating on Strawberry Day, bringing people into town from all over the region for a day of strawberry eating, live orchestras, dancing on Grand Avenue, and free admission to the Hot Springs Pool.
Back then, the Glenwood Post reported that on the first train into Glenwood, 300 people came from Grand Junction, 50 each from Palisade and Parachute, and 125 each from Rifle and New Castle to attend Strawberry Day. Trains coming from Leadville and Aspen were “crowded to capacity” as well. Sunday 2004, though, the train tracks outside the depot were deserted. Instead, today’s most popular form of transportation – cars, trucks and SUVs – roared overhead on the Grand Avenue bridge, and on Interstate 70 across the Colorado River. Ainslie said Glenwood’s first depot – a simpler, wooden structure – was built down the road at Seventh and Pitkin, in 1887. With the addition of the Hotel Colorado and the Hot Springs Pool bathhouse’s stone structures, a new train depot was designed and built, complete with stone from the Frying Pan River Valley above Basalt.
“Glenwood was developing its reputation as a resort, so it made sense to have a fancy train depot that reflected the architecture of the hotel and pool,” Ainslie said. Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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