- Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016

LOVELAND, Colo. (AP) - In 2012, Loveland’s Jesse G. Shepherd made his first trip out to the Virginia Dale Stage Station during the 150th anniversary celebration for the building.

It was only in operation from 1862 to about 1868 and was used as a stop for travelers on the Overland Trail. He wrote a song called “Stations on the Road” and made a short video for an out-of-state friend who shared his love of Western movies.

“It’s an instant feel of, wow, there’s a lot of history there,” he said.

He had always wanted to make videos, so he thought he would expand on the short video. It turned into a four-year project.

Shepherd knew that the Virginia Dale Community Club was working toward renovations and thought the song and video could be useful to bringing awareness to the project.

“Just called them up to see if they were interested,” Shepherd said.

They accepted, and he started to write the script.

Shepherd based the video off of a Mark Twain novel, “Roughing It” about Twains meeting with Jack Slade, the man who established the station. The idea is that travelers would hear all these stories about Slade as they traveled across the country that would build up the image of him before they got there.

“We thought it would be fun and then, if we got some donations by the way, even better,” said Sylvia Garofalo, president of the Virginia Dale Community Club.

Through their events and other fundraisers, they already had the costumes and historical artifacts to recreate the scene. They even had their own Jack Slade, played by Virginia Dale’s Gordon Chavis, to complete the video.

Garofalo said that Shepherd has been very supportive of the group.

For the other shots, Shepherd took trips to the Pawnee Grasslands where his wife filmed from the trunk of the car, a spot above Central City, and even as far as a ferry ride in the Puget Sound for coastal images.

The shot of his feet on the porch was taken at his father’s home after his father passed and Shepherd was leaving it for the last time.

He wasn’t trying to completely cover up that it was filmed today but tried to include as many historical artifacts and places that he could. All the shots eventually fit together perfectly with song, but he needed one thing to make it complete: a stagecoach.

“Searching for a stage coach was very, very, difficult,” Shepherd said.

He looked around but mostly found ones that weren’t in very good condition or couldn’t be touched.

He finally found the Whistling Elk Ranch in Rand that rented out a stagecoach and a team of horses. Shepherd could afford one hour with the rig.

“It was a kick in the pants,” he said about the ride.

They were out where he didn’t have to worry about blocking out modern conveniences and got to experience a real stagecoach. It also offered a perspective that the film needed, which was to show what it was like to travel in that mode of transportation.

“The video is in the speed of horse,” Shepherd said.

No quick cuts or fast movements, it was important for Shepherd to convey that history of transportation.

The Virginia Dale Community Club has worked to restore the station and has amped up its efforts since 2012. The club has been able to replace the windows, rafters, and the chimney as well as stabilize the building, which was starting to lean, Garofalo said.

There’s still a long way to go as the group would like to replace the front porch and ceiling, among other projects.

The group will also have its first big fundraiser, “An Evening with Jack Slade,” at 5:30 p.m. on June 4 at the Hilton, 425 W. Prospect Road, Fort Collins.

“We took a leap of faith and thought we would try this,” Garofalo said.

The event will include a live and silent auction, live music and dinner. The cost is $75 per person. To receive an invite, which will include meal choices, call 970-493-6955. Reservation are due May 21.

A western dance is also planned for 7 p.m. June 10 at the station, and tours are available upon request for a small fee.

“I don’t know how much longer I’m going to live, but that’s going to be around for a long time,” Shepherd said about the station.

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Information from: Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald, https://www.reporterherald.com/

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