Glenwood Railroad Museum set to close Monday | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood Railroad Museum set to close Monday

Carla Jean Whitley
cj@postindependent.com

Arthur Seagul describes area railroad history to visitors during a recent tour of the Glenwood Railroad Museum. Seagul is one of several volunteers at the downtown museum.

The Glenwood Railroad Museum will close for good at the end of its post-Thanksgiving weekend shift.

The museum, which is open Friday to Monday, was unable to reach a lease agreement with landlord Union Pacific Railroad Co. for space in the Amtrak Station on Seventh Street. The museum's five-year, $250-per-year lease expired at the end of 2016, and the museum shifted to a year-to-year schedule during renegotiations.

UP wanted to renegotiate for a market-rate rent. That would exceed $25,000 annually, accounting for the museum's total income, according to past reports.

"It's just sad that we're unable to raise the funding necessary to preserve what I think is a very important part of the history, the story of this county and this community," said Pat Thrasher, museum manager and president of the Western Colorado Chapter of National Railway Society.

“It’s just sad that we’re unable to raise the funding necessary to preserve what I think is a very important part of the history, the story of this county and this community.”

— Pat Thrasher, Glenwood Railroad Museum manager

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The Railroad Museum had been among the entities that would have benefited from a Garfield County historic preservation tax that was on the Nov. 7 ballot. Voters rejected the measure that would have gone to help fund museums from Carbondale to Parachute.

Staff and volunteers of the 14-year-old Railroad Museum are now approaching the original donors or their families to either reclaim their artifacts or donate them elsewhere. The museum is also looking for new Garfield County homes for the remaining items.

Thrasher is in communication with other area historical societies and will prioritize keeping the items local. But entities in Mesa County and Denver have also reached out to help as needed.

Carbondale's Mount Sopris Historical Society has already agreed to take the museum's collection of books and maintain it as a research library, he said.

Several factors play into the placement of the museum's collection: First, an institution must be willing to take the items. It's also important that materials can be stored or displayed in a way that preserves their condition.

Many people have asked about the possibility of relocation, Thrasher said. Although he thinks the organization could find another location, in his opinion it is essential to be located adjacent to an active railroad depot. Another location would result in a reduction of visitors and income.

"I would like to think we're more than just a place where Amtrak passengers hang out while they're waiting for a train," he said.

But he knows those passengers are crucial for the museum. Its hours are scheduled around peak traveling times at the station.

"In a very real way, the history of Glenwood Springs is tied to the history of the Western railroad," Thrasher said. The community existed before the Colorado Midland Railway and the Denver and Rio Grande railroads reached the city. But the trains, which arrived in 1887, boosted growth by making Glenwood more accessible.

The museum has also provided educational programming for children and adults.

The organization will spend the time before its move-out deadline finding homes for the artifacts, packing them and moving them to their new locations.

Past donors can contact the Glenwood Railroad Museum by calling Pat Thrasher at 970-456-6593 or Dick Helmke at 970-397-1389, or emailing glenwoodrrmuseum@gmail.com.

Edited at 2:59 p.m. Nov. 21 to clarify that Sunday’s reception is members only.

Last chance

The Glenwood Railroad Museum remains open through Monday. Sunday will feature a members-only reception with cookies and hot cider from 3 to 4 p.m.

413 Seventh St., Glenwood Springs | $2; children 12 and younger free | Fri.-Mon., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | 945-7044 | glenwoodrailroadmuseumbulletins.org