Limon Railroad Days, June 12-13
June 7, 2010
For 100 years, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway depot has set in Limon, Colo., a silent vigil.
From the heyday of the railroad to the passing into history by bankruptcy, the depot has withstood the ravages of the weather and watching passengers pass through, freight trains rumble past and the famous Limon shuffle. In 1910 the second depot that had been built in Limon burned down and a replacement was built right afterwards. The present depot was built with fire-resistant materials to withstand the coals and embers of the steam trains that passed by. The depot also survived the Limon tornado – the roof was damaged some but the rest of the structure was sound.
During the year, Limon will be celebrating the 100 years of the Rock Island depot. On June 12 and 13 will be Limon Railroad Days. There will be an open house, food, model train show and swap meet. The classic dining car will be open serving homemade desserts. The firehouse features the model train show, were the Knights of Columbus will be serving grilled burgers, dogs and the fixings. The depot will feature new exhibits and a new display.
The depot is part of the Limon Heritage complex and is the feature. When the Rock Island railroad went bankrupt, the depot sat empty until a group in Limon got together and acquired the building. This was the beginning of a journey that would take local volunteers to build a complex that stretches over four blocks. Beginning with the railroad station the complex was added on and improved. In the complex is the Heritage museum, a display of early local history, extensive display of early farm machinery, a boxcar display of saddles and tack, a one-room school house with interior display and a park with rides and gardens.
Trains still roll through Limon and a group of citizens in Kansas and Colorado bought the defunct Rock Island tracks from Limon to central Kansas. Today RailAmerica operates the Kyle Railway on these tracks and the Union Pacific RR still operates on their original rails that go past the old Rock Island depot. To the west from Limon the Rock Island rails were pulled to Colorado Springs, parts made into a trail and others are range land. The railroad that helped to build Limon is now but memories and in the Limon Heritage complex one can see how these early day builders and pioneers lived.
The depot is registered with the state historic registry and nearby is the ruins of other structures from when Limon was a division point. In the depot can be found pictures of these halcyon days, roundhouse, hotel, water tanks and section buildings. Here is where the fast passenger trains of the Rock Island split into two sections, section B went to Colorado Springs and the other went to Denver. The west bound train would be broken up and made into two trains and when they came back east the process was reversed, two trains would be made back into one train to go on east. This shuffling of cars became known as the Limon shuffle.
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This past year the Heritage Society has just finished up work on the depot, they got a generous grant for restoration work and new exhibits. There was lots of trim work done on worn woodwork, the heating system was upgraded with air conditioning and other improvements. A display was added featuring the archeological collection of local Daniel Houtz.
Houtz operated the town drugstore and was an amateur archeologist. Using his business he was able to collect numerous local Indian artifacts from the area. He had a deal with customers – he would trade an ice cream cone or float for arrowheads or scrapers that were found on the ranch or farm. Over the years his collection grew. He also went on some digs with the archeological group from his university. With these field trips his collection expanded. The collection was donated to the Heritage Society and they took some of the grant money and made a display featuring the Houtz collection. This past winter they added a small room to look like the local drugstore.
Buildings and displays remind one of what it was like to live at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s.