Antonito depot receives state historic funds


ANTONITO — The Denver & Rio Grande depot will share in more than $4.5 million in historic preservation grant funds, the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF) announced Tuesday.

The depot has been awarded $74,806 for exterior rehabilitation of one of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places as listed by Colorado Preservation, Inc.

A focal point for Antonito’s revitalization plan, the 1882 depot, constructed out of quarried ashlar volcanic stone, served the town of Antonito and the surrounding communities until 1951.  

The significance of the depot is evident in the fact that all of Antonito’s original buildings were constructed to face the station.

When listed among the most endangered places, the depot had been vacant for more than 50 years with neglect and deferred maintenance taking a toll on the structure.  

The station is structurally sound but continues to deteriorate due to age.

According to the State Historical Society, photographic evidence indicates that all the major changes to the depot occurred prior to 1940.

As originally constructed, the depot was shorter with all exterior walls composed of stone.

At an unknown time but most likely early in its operation, the Rio Grande expanded the depot to the southto create additional office and baggage/freight space. The middle portion of the southern stone wall was removed to provide access to the new baggage area.

The removed stone was recycled to form the corner piers in the addition. Rather than obtain additional stone to enclose the new space, the builders framed in the three exterior walls, as well as the open space in the old southern stone wall.

In 1923, near the peak of its size, Antonito station included a 30-ton coaling structure, a water tank, a wye on which to turn engines and trains, a stockyard and loading ramp for cattle and sheep (complete with a sheep dipping vat), a car scale, a freight house, bunkhouse, section house and a two-stall narrow gauge engine house.

Most of these facilities and structures have been demolished or converted to other uses, so the depot is the remaining building most intact and most closely associated with the D&RG’s operations in Antonito.

The SHF grants provide essential funding for projects such as historic structure assessments, education programs, archaeological projects and physical work to preserve and restore historic buildings and places.

These grants help communities preserve their historic resources and have a significant economic impact.

“Colorado recognizes the value of its historic resources, and our grant program is proof of that,” Cynthia Nieb, director of the State Historical Fund said.

“Every SHF grant helps preserve our amazing past while investing in our future. Communities looking for opportunities should focus on their historic resources—buildings and places that represent their heritage—and reach out to us to see if we can help.”

SHF funds preservation projects that have immense public benefit for their communities. The latest grants include:

Argo Tunnel and Mill, Idaho Springs; the Haynie site at Cortez; the Huerfano County Courthouse and Jail, Walsenburg; Reynolds Ranch / Hagen Farmhouse / Twin Oaks Ranch, Colorado Springs; San Juan County Hospital, Silverton and World’s Wonder View Tower at Genoa.

To contact SHF staff, please visit or call (303) 866-2825.