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.


Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 3 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.


mikekt 1 year, 3 months ago

I have a solution to the problems of Marysville, Ks. . Just call Sam Brownback & tell him that you have found a gret place for the next State of Kansas Official Preyer Room from which he & his political cronies can prey on the states' public from ! You'll have your State Cash in no time !


KansasLiberal 1 year, 3 months ago

"$132,000 needed to purchase 2 acres of land adjacent to the structure."

Isn't that small change to a company like Union Pacific? If they donated that land (which they'll never use anyway) they could probably get a tax write-off for the full amount.


Clark Coan 1 year, 3 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.


marysvilleresident 1 year, 3 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.


sierraclub 1 year, 3 months ago

Take a look at Downtown KC. They spend millions rebuilding, fixing, or restoring Union Station. It is a taxpapers nightmare.


KiferGhost 1 year, 3 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 1 year, 3 months ago

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


50YearResident 1 year, 3 months ago

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


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 3 months ago

Maybe the Lawtence preservationists could come up with the money to help neighbors to the northwest!

Marysville had squirrels escape from the circus, Lawremce had clowns who stayed around.

Ban the circus!


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