Archive for Thursday, December 27, 2012

Time running out to save historic Marysville train depot

December 27, 2012


MARYSVILLE — Barring a last-minute influx of cash, a historic northeast Kansas train depot could soon be reduced to rubble by a railroad company that has contributed mightily to its community’s prosperity.

Union Pacific Railroad is preparing to demolish its 83-year-old depot in Marysville after local preservationists could only come up with less than half of the $132,000 needed to purchase 2 acres of land adjacent to the structure.

The railroad abandoned the depot in 2009. Since then, it has been vandalized and damaged by weather, the tracks have been ripped up, and weeds are growing through the crumbling sidewalk, The Kansas City Star reported.

Linda Swim, president of Landmark Enterprises, a group trying to save the depot, said there might even be a dead animal inside the building. Still, the group said an architectural firm from Omaha, Neb., has inspected the building and found it to be structurally sound.

Union Pacific offered to give the depot and the land on which it sits to the city, but Landmark’s plan includes a community theater on the adjoining land owned by the railroad. The city said it would give the depot to the group if it came up with enough money to buy the additional land, but community contributions fell well short of the amount needed for the purchase.

The deadline to come up with the money passed in November, and the railroad is ready to bulldoze the place.

“We are securing paperwork for demolition,” railroad spokesman Mark Davis said. “That was the agreement and they didn’t come up with the money.

“We’re historic-minded, too. But at some point, it becomes a safety issue and an eyesore.”

Marysville, which is known as “Black Squirrel City” because of its many black squirrels whose ancestors escaped from a travelling circus, was once a stop on the Pony Express. Locals say that a building south of the depot that’s been turned into a museum is the sole surviving Pony Express station between St. Joseph, Mo., and Sacramento, Calif.

The depot, built in 1929, was designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, who designed Yosemite National Park’s Ahwahnee Hotel around the same time.

Those trying to save the station say the community owes much of its prosperity to Union Pacific, which was a major employer there for nearly a century.

Retired Union Pacific employees Gilbert Schmitz and Ron Grauer hope the building can be saved.

“They covered up a lot of the woodwork with paneling and lowered the ceiling, but it’s all still in there,” Grauer said.

Joyce Zaitlin, who wrote a biography of Underwood in the 1980s, said small-town train stations reflect a specific time in American history, and she thinks Marysville should do everything it can to save its depot.

“Marysville is indeed lucky to have such an example still standing, and it is hoped that the town recognizes its importance,” she said.


Phoghorn 5 years, 5 months ago

Apparently enough folks care that there has been a drive to preserve it.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

Looks like the people who care aren't as embarrassed by American history as you sierraclub. I understand, there is a lot to be embarrassed about and worse yet, a simple train station built by a private company demonstrates something we can't have today, money spent on the idea that something is built to last and respects the citizens of the town. Now we have beauties like the Oread and the developer letting the citizens know where they can put it.

Someone pointed out if they painted the cell phone towers, about half way down on all but the second one the developer would be truly telling Lawrence what they can do with it.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

Same with the roads, there ain't no reason the city should be fixing them with tax payer money. Let people raise their own durn money fur that.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 5 months ago

"Lawrence is the soft shoulder on the highway of life. A lot of people get stuck here."

  • S. B., one who escaped years ago.

50YearResident 5 years, 5 months ago

Why is this story of any interest to the residents of Lawrence? Let them bulldose the depot.

Phoghorn 5 years, 5 months ago

Marysville is an easy day trip from Lawrence, and there are plenty of historical attractions there. While it does not have the draw of Branson or Lake of the Ozarks, I am sure that a few folks do go back and forth.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

But you have to remember, when the land was stolen from the Indians because we needed to do big things with their land we now bulldoze all those big things and put up the cheapest building we can. Funny isn't it that back when the station was build America didn't have nearly as much money as we do now yet there was some pride in what they built for public places. Now look at the design of let's say the new Lawrence Public Library and we see how that idea has been long lost.

50YearResident 5 years, 5 months ago

I'll put that on my calendar for my next "Day Trip" to Marrysville: Be sure to visit the old delapidated train station, it is a must see.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

What a perfect memorial to the American dream.

Phoghorn 5 years, 5 months ago

If you really want to see a memorial to the state of the US right now, go visit Detroit...

Phoghorn 5 years, 5 months ago

Don't forget Alcove Springs, though it is a lot prettier in wet years when the waterfall is running.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like those who think Walmart is the best our culture can do have chimed in this morning.

Phoghorn 5 years, 5 months ago

Dude, that is where I go to meet women. Stop slamming that place...

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

It is interesting how quickly Americans like to destroy any signs of from the past that showed we once could do better. Nope, get rid of it and build a Butler building and call that progress.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

What is a nightmare to a free market type like yourself is the government subsidizing the costs of roads and airports while the ol free market railroad system was left in a dilemma where they could no longer run passenger trains. What is a shame is the loss of an important transportation system.

It is a pity that they made Union Station in a way that would impress future generations instead of a Butler building like our hustlers do today. You are right, let's do everything on the cheap and as long as I can buy my 3 gallon big chug while filling up the Burb on cheap gas, well hell, what else matters.

marysvilleresident 5 years, 5 months ago

I no longer live in Marysville, but it is where i grew up and is a place still in my heart and soul. I can understand that people will feel that it has nothing to do with them, and why should they care.

You should care, because this is happening all over the country. We are bulldozing historic places, and some not so historic just to have a parking lot or a big box retailer. There are so many small towns that are dying and losing a lot of their old, historic buildings.

We can't let this happen to this old place too. It's not a dilapidated building, and I understand that it is structurally sound.

Just because it has nothing to do with you- it doesn't mean that there are people that hate to see this type of destruction.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

But in the small minded American view, if it ain't benefiting them like a new walmart it ain't worth nuttin. We have descended from our past glory and most aren't even aware and some apparently want to erase it from our memory.

Clark Coan 5 years, 5 months ago

I've been there many times. It's an old railroad town and a lot of people have money up there. Funny, they can't raise the funds.

Lots to see including the Pony Express Station, Alcove Springs, and the Blue River Rail Trail. Wide brick streets and a community museum.

Alcove Springs is a park south of town. It's where the Donner Party got stranded on teh Oregon-California Trail due to high water in the Blue River. That made them late to cross the Sierra Nevadas and so they got stuck in a snowstorm. The rest is history.

BTW, the black squirrels are interbreeding with the red squirrels.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 5 months ago

Much of the costs of retrofitting these old buildings to new standards have to do with the ADA. This alone puts the price of restoration way out of the reach of many communities. Although, they could round up all those on unemployment and put them to work over there and good things just might start to happen.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

Makes you wonder how the Europeans pull off upgrading all those old buildings and still living a higher quality of life than we have.

KiferGhost 5 years, 5 months ago

I didn't realize train stations and the basilica were so comparable.

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