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GW depots 1976 north facade.jpg

History of the Great Western Depots

Remember the small white, wooden buildings sitting vacant on Monroe Avenue and 10th Street?  Many people are aware that Loveland’s Great Western depots are in danger of being lost.  Some non-concerted efforts have been made to save the depots over the years since they were closed up in the mid-1980s.  The Loveland Historical Society got serious about the buildings’ plight five years ago. 

The Great Western passenger depot was built by the Great Western Railway in 1902, the year after the sugar factory opened.  The factory was the first Great Western Co. sugar plant in Northern Colorado, although three other sugar processing plants had previously been built in the state.  The sugar factory drove our economy for eight decades and grew

Loveland’s population by 300% the first decade of operation!  It was a major contributor to the area’s economic success and remains a very important piece of our history and heritage.  All the next generations in Loveland deserve a chance to know and appreciate the Great Western legacy.

The Great Western Railway’s main purpose was to transport beets from outlying farmers’ beet dumps, as well as refined sugar, molasses, coal and lime rock, but it also operated passenger service from 1917 - 1926.  Before and after passenger service years, it was used as the railroad agent’s central office.  In the 1980s GWRy offered popular rail excursions, and school classes rode cabooses for years, but the railroad never got back on its feet.  The passenger depot was closed in the mid-1980s.  The little freight depot to the east was built in 1942.

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OmniTRAX, Inc. is the current owner of the railway system.  In 2012 LHS started working to save the depots, feeling that it was better for them to have a new home than to have them demolished.  The depots were happily claimed by the Moffat Railroad Museum in Granby, who planned to fundraise and take the buildings apart to move them over the mountain.  LHS reluctantly agreed.  But after four years, and no movement, LHS formed a committee that redoubled its efforts to save the depots in Loveland.  OmniTRAX has worked with the GW Committee, and the City of Loveland reached an agreement to preserve the depots (2024).  We don’t want to lose that part of our history.  

The Loveland Historic Preservation Commission and a new county-wide preservation non-profit, Historic Larimer County, are supportive of the efforts to save the depots, offering invaluable knowledge and expertise.  The depots were a finalist to the 2018 Colorado’s Most Endangered Places list, run by Colorado Preservation, Inc. in Denver.  We will need to fundraise approximately $86,000 to cover assessments, abatement of hazardous materials, the cost of moving the buildings, and a new foundation.  Then we will seek various restoration grants.  The buildings are eligible for listing on the State and Local Historic Registers, but only if they are kept in their historic context near the sugar factory. Without a historic registration, grants would not be available. 

We are working with the city to move the buildings just south of their current location.  Once saved, restoration will have to be accomplished in phases, as with the Milner-Schwarz House.  Plans for reuse could include a GW museum, model railroad, coffee shop or some other income-producing retail enterprise, or all the above!   We have begun taking donations and in-kind support.  Look for “Save Loveland’s Great Western Depots!” on Facebook and follow us for updates!.  To donate online, click HERE.  To donate by mail, send to: Save the GW Depots! PO Box 7311, Loveland, CO 80537.

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