Plans taking shape for Charles City depot move this summer
By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Work is expected to begin soon on the first stage of what will be the relocation of the historic Milwaukee Road Railroad Depot in Charles City.
“We’ve done it! We have reached our fundraising goal and the depot has been saved!” it was announced recently by the joint Depot Fundraising Committee and the American Passenger Train History Museum.
“We’d like to give our greatest thanks to all the donors and the community for your support,” the groups said in a press statement. “It is because of all of you that we will be able to move the depot in September to its new location at 1010 North Grand Avenue.”
Reaching the project’s initial $350,000 goal will pay to dig and build a foundation at the new location, as well as for the actual move itself, said Charles City Mayor Dean Andrews, who has been involved in the fundraising effort.
As of Monday the fundraising tally stood at $353,400, Andrews said.
Dean also emphasized that donations are still being accepted for this first phase of the project, noting that it’s not uncommon in a project like this to come up with unexpected costs.
The groups’ press statement said that train museum volunteers have been busy working on railroad track that’s in place at the depot’s future location on the corner of North Grand Avenue and 11th Avenue, and they will be moving passenger train cars that are at the site and being refurbished to be part of the American Passenger Train History Museum.
Kamm Excavating will begin digging the hole for the new foundation any day now, Andrews said, and then Ramker Construction of Waverly will build the foundation.
The foundation will be a full basement, Andrews said.
“They said by the time they do a foundation, if you make it a couple more feet you’ve got a basement. They said it wasn’t that much more to do a basement, and then the museum, thought, well, let’s do that, because we can use the storage space,” Andrews said.
“It probably won’t be public access space, but it will be museum artifacts or records or whatever,” he added.
The foundation has to cure for 30 days to support the weight of the depot, so the work on the actual move of the building will probably begin in August, Andrews said.
Thein Moving Co., of Clara City, Minnesota, has been hired to do the move, and people from that company will probably begin in August digging under the depot so they have access to put in the beams needed to raise the structure and put it on wheels.
Andrews said representatives from Thein Moving Co., MidAmerican Energy, the Canadian Pacific Railroad, Kamm Excavating and Atura Architects of Clear Lake were at the current and future depot locations last week, making plans.
Andrews said a “real tentative” date of Sept. 10 is being looked at for the move.
“It might be a two-day move. They might move it from its current location over and have it sit on 11th Avenue, and the next day move it from 11th Avenue onto the foundation,” Andrews said.
Coinciding with the momentous move will be the beginning of the next phase of the renovation of the depot.
“The Milwaukee Road Depot will become a fitting trailhead for the Charley Western Trail, a grand entrance to the train museum, extra gathering space, and an invaluable addition toward tourism for Charles City,” the joint Depot Fundraising Committee and American Passenger Trail History Museum said in their statement.
Andrews said the next phase of fundraising will be for the renovation of the building.
That is currently being estimated at about $750,000, he said, “but again, that’s a real shot-in-the-dark kind of estimate.”
All along, promoters of the plan to save the depot from being destroyed by its owner, Canadian Pacific Railroad, have said that it’s likely grant money will be available to help with the cost of renovating the structure.
Robert Moen, president of the American Passenger Train History Museum, has said frequently that it’s hard to get people to donate to move a building, but it’s easier to get people to donate to help refurbish a building that will be used for a public purpose.
Coinciding with thoughts of creating a trailhead in the depot for the Charley Western Recreation Trail, Andrews said, are efforts at improving the trail itself.
John Fallis, the city engineer, has been looking into funding to extend the trail the four or five blocks from where it ends now at F street to North Grand Avenue at the depot.
The plan would be to have public restrooms, parking, possibly even concessions and some bike repair equipment, Andrews said.