RAILFAN GUIDES HOME RAILROAD SIGNALS HOME
Most of the postcards were found on EBay unless noted. Dates are in the picture title, x means the date is approximate. 1901a and 1910b would be the same card,
both sides. Some of them have been cleaned up and/or repaired when I had the energy. This page is mostly for historical reference, as MANY of these stations are not
around anymore! What's the difference between a station and a depot? Most people will say "nuttin", it's a matter of preference, although
many will use depot for older buildings. If they were available, and interesting, I included the back side of the postcards. ARROW
Original structures: Denver's first train station was constructed in 1868 to serve the new
Denver Pacific Railway, which connected Denver to the main transcontinental line at Cheyenne WY. By 1875, there were four different railroad stations, making passenger transfers between different
railroad lines inconvenient. To remedy this issue, theUnion Pacific Railroad proposed creating one
central "Union Station" to combine the various operations. In February 1880, the owners of the four lines (the Union Pacific, the
Denver & Rio Grande Western, the
Denver, South Park & Pacific, and the
Colorado Central) agreed to build a station at 17th and Wynkoop Streets. Architect A. Taylor
of Kansas City was hired to develop the plans and the station opened in May 1881.
However, a fire that started in the women's restroom in 1894 destroyed the central portion of the 1881 depot. The Kansas City architectural firm of Van Brunt & Howe was hired to design a larger
replacement depot in the Romanesque Revival style. Both the 1881 and 1894 depots included a tall central clock tower with four clock faces.
Early 20th century: On July 4, 1906, a large arch known as the Mizpah Arch was dedicated in front of the station in order to provide a threshold for travelers entering and leaving the city.
Constructed at a cost of $22,500 with 70 tons of steel and over 2,000 light bulbs, the arch originally featured the word "Welcome" on both sides. However, the elevation facing 17th
Street was changed to "Mizpah", a Hebrew word expressing an emotional bond between
separated people, and used as a farewell to people leaving Denver.
In 1912, the original Union Depot partnership was dissolved and replaced by the Denver Terminal Railway Company, representing the then-major operators of the station (the
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, the
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, the
Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific, the
Colorado & Southern, the Union Pacific, and the Denver & Rio Grande Western
railways). The new partnership decided to demolish and rebuild the central portion of the station to handle the increasing passenger traffic. The new central portion, designed by Denver
architects Gove & Walsh, was built in the Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1914.
By the 1920s and 1930s, over 80 trains served the station daily with notable dignitaries such as Queen Marie of Romania, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Franklin Delano
Roosevelt arriving to Denver through the station. As a result of growing passenger service, the Mizpah Arch in front of the station was deemed a traffic hazard and was torn down in 1931.
Late 20th century -- Decline: Although World War II saw a surge in rail traffic, the latter half of the 20th century saw a sharp decline in service for Union Station and countless other train stations
in the United States as competition began to grow from automobiles and airlines. For the first time in 1958, passenger traffic at Stapleton International Airport exceeded that of Union Station.
It was during this period that the orange "Union Station: Travel by Train" signs were placed on both sides of the building in order to advertise intercity rail travel.
The above photo is part of a picture found on the Wikipedia page for Union
Station. Looking down 17th Street, from 1908. Love the detail!