Garfield Re-2 transportation restoring history
Garfield Re-2 Director of District-Wide Services
On the Garfield Re-2 Transportation Department bus lot, tucked snugly between two large trucks, sits a vision of days gone by. The wind blows through the portals where the faces of young children once gazed. It contains a mystery, many stories, and although it hasn’t delivered a student to school in many decades, it may be the most treasured vehicle on the lot.
As part of a vehicle swap earlier this year, Director of Transportation Sanja Morgan and her crew took possession of a 1932 Ford school bus with a rumored history.
“It is rumored to be the first school bus to serve the local school districts seven through 11 beginning in Parachute and traveling to Glenwood Springs,” explained Morgan.
Whether or not this is true, Morgan and her staff are looking forward to a significant restoration project to bring the historic, rusty vehicle back to its days of glory.
“It came to us,” Morgan said of the shell of a vehicle. “We had no idea it was out there. It’s a part of our history, and this is the kind of stuff that slips by and is never thought of again. It would have been unfortunate to let it go.”
Acquired from local resident Mike Walker in exchange for an out-of-service vehicle, the vehicle needs quite a bit of work, including a new engine, new windows, floor and a new roof. It is thought to be one of three models Ford released in 1932, as they continued to modify what is believed to be Ford’s first school bus offerings.
The canvas roof was modified with 12-inch wooden headers to allow students to stand up in the bus. Students sat on benches under the bus windows facing the center of the bus, while two center rows of seats faced outward so students sat facing each other, knee-to-knee.
Morgan adds that this particular bus is believed to have been owned and operated by the Weare family in the Parachute area and was used to transport students to and from athletic events on a contract basis. Transportation to and from school was not provided by the schools at that time.
“I think it is impressive, that even back then, our district (or some humble beginnings of it) offered transportation to students even though it is a costly venture,” she said. “It was important back then, just as it is now. It is quite a statement that our district thinks it is important to have transportation to school and to school-related activities.
“School districts don’t have to do that. It is quite an investment that districts make to support their kids.”
Although Morgan is “thrilled to have it as is,” she and her staff are beginning to put a restoration plan in place to get the rolling historical icon functional again. She has already been put in contact with people that may have spare parts to lend to the project, and she hopes to have an estimate of costs to restore the bus soon, but she estimates at least $50,000.
As important to Morgan as restoring the vehicle is getting a better understanding of the history of the school bus. Anyone that has information about this bus, school buses in the western Garfield County area, or restoration of old school buses is encouraged to call Sanja Morgan at 970-665-7630.
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The family of Rosie Ferrin has worked to clean up and make safe again the old schoolhouse in downtown New Castle. Ferrin died this summer and had owned the building that included classrooms turned into apartments for years.