Patt McCaffrey stands inside the train depot in Craig, which recently was put on Colorado's Most Endangered Places list.  The depot, which was built in 1917 as the final stop for the Moffat rail line but hasn't been in use for 40 years, has been plagued with vandals in recent years.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Patt McCaffrey stands inside the train depot in Craig, which recently was put on Colorado's Most Endangered Places list. The depot, which was built in 1917 as the final stop for the Moffat rail line but hasn't been in use for 40 years, has been plagued with vandals in recent years.

Enthused to be endangered

Selection to historical site preservation registry could help save depot

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— Railroad history ties in closely with the childhood memories of Patt McCaffrey, Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado chairwoman.

Her father worked for the Santa Fe Railroad and was a self-professed "railroad buff."

"He kind of instilled the importance of the railroad in my life," she said.

Her family also ingrained something else into McCaffrey's background: a sense of civic responsibility.

Those values came into play when McCaffrey agreed to help Community Foundation board member Pam Foster apply for a distinction they hoped could help preserve an abandoned train depot in Craig.

The depot, which was built in 1917 and is located the south end of Yampa Avenue, has been dormant since passenger trains ceased to stop there in 1968.

Now, McCaffrey and Foster have an answer.

Colorado Preservation Inc. awarded the depot a spot on Colorado's Most Endangered Places list Feb. 7. A television program featuring the depot and other sites selected for this year's list is scheduled to air March 22 on station KCNC CBS4 at a time yet to be announced.

"We're delighted - more than delighted," Foster said, holding a copy of the four-page application the two sent to Colorado Preservation.

"It's an honor to get on the Endangered list," McCaffrey said.

Foster and McCaffrey hope that the distinction and Colorado Preservation's support can further their cause with the building's owner, the Union Pacific Railroad.

Colorado Preservation began the program 11 years ago to recognize historical sites throughout the state that are at risk of decay, the organization's Web site reported.

The organization's officials have informed McCaffrey and Foster that they will help them develop a strategic plan to "help us obtain the depot and raise the necessary funds to preserve it," Foster said, adding that Colorado Preservation itself will not supply the Community Foundation with any funding.

McCaffrey and Foster think the task they face is an achievable one.

An architect associated with Colorado Preservation recently examined the building and declared it to be "still stable and structurally sound," Foster said.

Still, the building needs renovations, internally and externally, McCaffrey said.

Neither board member could estimate how much the restoration project would cost or how long it will take to complete.

Colorado Preservation maintains a track record of restoring decaying historical sites.

"Of the 65 places named to the list from 1998 to 2007, nine have been saved (and) 38 have experienced forward progress in the form of rehabilitation, stabilization, protection, preservation planning and/or assessment," according to the Web site.

A spot on the Endangered Places list doesn't guarantee that the depot will survive to see better days, Foster said.

Colorado Preservation doesn't project that notion, either.

Since the list was created in 1997, three locations have been lost and 15 remain "critical," the Web site reported.

Still, Foster thinks that while the Endangered Places list may not save the building, it provides at least the prospect of restoration.

"It stands a much better chance," she said.

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