- Associated Press - Saturday, December 2, 2017

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The train depot in Calhan used to be the talk of the town.

Now, it rarely sees any sign of life. Recently painted red, the building sits mostly abandoned in the small town east of Colorado Springs.

But a group of people is trying restore The Calhan Rock Island Railroad Depot to remind townspeople and visitors of the area’s rich railroad history. In November, the project took a significant step forward with the arrival of a caboose that will be placed in front of the train station.

The depot will be converted into a museum highlighting the town’s pioneering spirit, according to the Rocky Mountain Railroad Heritage Society, which is leading the renovations through donations and grants. The project is expected to cost about $250,000 with a completion date in three to four years, said Jim Jordan, the organization’s president.

“The more people we get involved, the faster we’ll get the project finished,” he added.

A caboose - remodeled from a train car built in 1902 - was delivered Nov. 25 from the Forney Transportation Museum in Denver. The historic item was donated for free to make more room at the museum, said Lester Coburn, projects superintendent at RMRHS.

It sits on stacks of wooden posts until the organization can raise $8,000 to rent a crane to move the caboose, Coburn said. Before then, RMRHS hopes to land another train car that will be converted into a coffee lounge and placed near the Calhan museum.

The effort started last year, when RMRHS bought the depot from the town.

Last Sunday, Coburn and a volunteer worked on the building’s new paint job. A group of volunteers come every weekend to contribute to the restoration of Calhan’s history.

In the late 1880s, the officials from Illinois-based Rock Island Railroad company found shallow groundwater in Calhan and thought the virtually treeless land would make a fine stopping point between Limon and Colorado Springs.

The first train passed through Calhan on Nov. 5, 1888, according to Larry L. King’s book, “The History of Calhan and Vicinity 1888-1988.” That prompted the opening of the town’s post office 19 days.

“Our group is trying to rebuild history,” Coburn said. “We’re trying to save all we can.”

Once the project is completed, RMRHS plans to pass ownership of the building to the town of Calhan or a nonprofit dedicated to preserving historical sites or buildings.


Information from: The Gazette, http://www.gazette.com

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