The 150 year old Virginia Dale stage station needs help
May 31, 2012
The Virginia Dale stage station, made of hand-hewn logs, is among the most important structures in Larimer County dating back to 1862 when the Overland Stage Company relocated its line from central Wyoming to Colorado. It served as “home” station where passengers could stop, rest and get a meal. It is the only one left in the United States in its original condition on its original site. Time and weather has compromised its structural integrity, and the relentless north wind has caused the building to lean. Without help, this structure will eventually collapse and an important piece of history will be lost for future generations.
Critical repairs are needed soon. The southeast corner is starting to pull apart and the gap is large enough to allow rain and wind driven snow to enter the interior. The west wall is twisted and both the internal chimney and woodstove are leaning badly. Fortunately the engineering work will be furnished by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a community service project. Volunteer labor will be used to the greatest extent possible. Even with all of this, the work is expected to top $200,000.
The specific details are quite complex and involves many steps, both minor and major. The building will have to be pulled back to vertical then stabilized with an internal structure to hold it in place. Copper flashing is needed along with a new internal roof structure. The electrical service does not meet code and the building must be completely rewired. Wind whips through spaces between the handhewn logs and re-chinking is essential. The list goes on and on.
Friday, June 8, 2012 marks the start of a three day event and a birthday party at Virginia Dale Stage Station. It begins with a western dance on Friday June 8 featuring the local favorite band, Barely Gettin’ By. The dance will be from 7-11 P.M. at the Stage Station and admission is $10 per person, children under 12 free. There will also be a pie auction during the dance.
On Saturday, June 9, there will be a craft show, quilt raffle and the appearance of an actor playing the role of Jack Slade, the first superintendent at the station and the man that picked its picturesque location. His wife Virginia will also give another side of Jack’s character. Mark Twain will be there to lend his observations about his meeting with Jack Slade and comments on stagecoach travel. Lady Moon will be there to relate her history with the area. A history of the Overland Trail will be given by Wayne Sundberg. Caricature artist Dale Crawford will lend his talent to the show. There will be many fundraising games for young and old as well as a General Store and bake sale, alpacas, bees and goats.
There will be live banjo music, a quiz show and costume contest. Over 20 local artisans will be there with unique gifts for all ages. Wool and alpaca spinners will demonstrate this age- old craft.
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The Wells Fargo stagecoach will be there on Saturday from 10-1:30. Bring your cameras for a great photo opportunity! A privately owned stagecoach will be there all three days, also for photo-ops.
Civil War reenactors from Rocky Mountain High School will be there also. In addition to the Quilt raffle ( tickets $1.00), the club will be raffling off an original Barbara Moore painting valued at $3000 ( tickets are $25)
On Sunday, June 10, a country church service will be held in the station followed by a picnic lunch, horseshoe tournament and the craft sale. An antique quilt expert will be there with a display and talk on Civil War era quilts. Also planned are two talks on the Civil War as it relates to the area by two expert historians.
It is hoped that this three day event will provide the start of a fund to stabilize and restore the building. Access to the Virginia Dale stage station is east from U.S. 287 going north just beyond the abandoned Virginia Dale cafe and post office on County Road 43F. Coming south on Hwy 287. turn left onto County Rd. 43 F ( just south of the Abbey of St. Walburga sign. An unpaved road to the north ends at the station. Donations of cash, materials and volunteer labor are needed and appreciated. Make cash donations to the Virginia Dale Community Club, 844 County Road 43F, Virginia Dale, Colorado 80536.
For more information, refer to http://www.virginiadalecommunityclub.org or call Marcie Wells, 970-568-7646.