COLUMBUS — The stone-and-brick Union Pacific Railroad depot that has been in Columbus for more than 100 years is set to be demolished.
Crews were out last week doing abatement work in preparation to tear down the building located on the east side of 26th Avenue just north of the railroad tracks.
Union Pacific moved into its new depot at 4511 11th St. earlier this year, making the old one obsolete.
Mark Davis, Union Pacific director of corporate relations and media, said a new depot was necessary because of the condition of the old building.
“It was primarily the age and the condition of the structure. It continued to deteriorate,” he said, adding that the 11th Street depot also is more workable with the addition of new communications and technology equipment.
Union Pacific did give the city an opportunity to purchase the old depot before moving forward with its plan to tear the building down.
City Administrator Joe Mangiamelli said saving the building would be too costly because the depot couldn't remain at its current location, which is too close to the tracks for non-railroad uses. The estimated price tag to relocate the building is $750,000.
“We didn’t have the money. We didn’t have any plan for reuse. We didn’t have any community interest come forward to suggest how it would be reused, so we basically had to pass on the opportunity,” Mangiamelli said.
This week, a soft demolition will begin, Davis said. Workers are scheduled to begin removing pieces from the building's interior on Wednesday before the depot is ultimately razed. He said total demolition will probably take weeks to finish.
Before the abatement work was done, city officials were able to enter the building and take some pieces, including an old bench.
Cheri Schrader, director of the Platte County Historical Society Museum, was one of the last people allowed into the depot.
“Like many others, we at the Platte County Historical Society are sad that a historic landmark is coming down,” she said, adding that she understands the cost of trying to save the building was beyond the means of the historical society and others.
“The Platte County Museum does have some artifacts and photos from the depot on display, so even when the building is gone, everyone can still remember the way it was,” Schrader said.
The depot as it currently looks is a remodeled version of the one built in the 1860s. It opened in 1909 and included a ticket office, lobby, waiting rooms for men and women, restrooms, baggage room and express room.
The depot was used by travelers until the 1970s, when Union Pacific stopped carrying passengers. Since then, the trains have carried freight.