Dayton’s Carson & Colorado depot’s future will look like its past
Appeal Staff Writer
Though Dayton’s Carson & Colorado Depot has undergone many changes, the Historical Society of Dayton Valley plans to turn back the clock in the historic station’s restoration.
The building, built in 1881, was originally located along what is now Highway 50 and River Street, waiting for passengers and freight to be delivered on the narrow gauge Carson & Colorado, which ran from Mound House east through Dayton, south to Wabuska and Hawthorne and West to Bishop and Keeler, in California, the end of the line. The C&C stopped in 1933 and the station was closed.
It was used as a home until 2005, both by owners and as a rental. As a result, according to Mabel Masterman of the Historical Society, a fireplace was placed where a wood stove probably sat, an addition with several rooms was built along with porches, bathrooms and a kitchen.
“We’re going to restore it to its original footprint, which was about 1,000 square feet,” she said.
Not only that, but using photos and sketches from other C&C depots, Historical Society member Linda Clements said the group will do everything possible to make the building look as original as possible.
“We’re constructing a set of original plans,” she said. “We have sketches, information and the depots. We are going to restore that building back to 1880s.”
She said other C&C depots are at Keeler and Bishop, and information on those will aid in restoring this one.
The C&C, built by Virginia & Truckee owner Henry Yerington, originally was designed to extend the V&T into Southern Nevada and California. It was completed to Hawthorne by 1883, but stopped at Keeler in the Owens Valley, near Bishop, and the Southern Pacific Railroad bought the railroad in 1905.
The Historical Society took over the project in July 2007 after the Lyon County Commission, which had purchased the building using grant funds, approved a stewardship agreement allowing the society to maintain and restore the building. HSDV also is working on restoring two other buildings they maintain, the Schoolhouse museum on Shady Lane and the firehouse/jail on Pike Street.
The addition of the depot will eventually be the biggest feather in the society’s cap, according to Clements.
“It will be a yellow railroad building,” she said. “You’re going to see that baby. We are going to rotate it and make it face the same way it did.”
Clements said the society was already collecting funds to rotate and heighten the building and hoped to open it as a visitors center even before restoration is complete.
“We’re going to be cleaning up the grounds and get it more presentable,” she said, adding that restoration should be done in about a year and a half, if all the grants are approved. “We’re going to start some work crews.”
“We call it the Gateway to the Comstock,” she added. “It’s by Gold Creek where the gold was first discovered and they went right up the creek to the Comstock.”
The property includes old horse barns, chicken coop, pump house and other outbuildings, which Masterman said hopefully will be identified and restored as well. In the pump house are canned goods put up by Helen Barton, wife of storied Dayton constable Chester Barton, who purchased the depot in the 1950s.
Clements said she hoped that anyone with items that came from the original depot would consider donating, selling or loaning them to the society.
Clements said the group plans to go back and apply for more grants from the Nevada Department of Transportation Enhancement Program, where the original $550,000 came that allowed for the purchase of the property.
She has already contacted a group of railroad enthusiasts from Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge, a group that celebrates the railroad that was the final owner of C&C.
“These 400 people are train nuts and now I have reactivated my train nut-ism,” she said, adding the group is considering Northern Nevada as their next convention location instead of Bishop, the traditional place.
Clements said the group also is coming out with a brochure showing the original rail bed alignment, which is now Fort Churchill Road through Dayton to Silver Springs.
She said Barton was the one who moved the depot from the south side of the highway, where homes used by the railroad’s station agent and section foreman still stand.
“We’ll be looking for money to purchase those homes and perhaps move them to the lot,” she said.
In February 2007, the Lyon County Commission purchased the depot for $550,000 from developer Jim Bawden. He bought it in 2003 to preserve the historic building so the historical society and Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce could turn it into a visitors center.
Masterman, the Historical Society’s secretary, said a structural engineer has looked at the process.
“We’re in a very preliminary process,” she said. “We’re getting evaluations now.”
But the preliminary status of the project hasn’t kept the society members from making plans.
“We’ll have railroad exhibits inside,” she said. “It will be an interpretive visitor’s center.”
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 881-7351.
You can help
To donate funds, join the volunteer work crew or to donate, sell or loan original items to the Historical Society of Dayton Valley, call Linda Clements at 246-0505.
Some important dates in the history of the Carson & Colorado Depot:
• 1881 – The depot was built to handle passengers and freight.
• 1933 – The depot closed when C&C Railroad stopped running.
• 1950 – Chester and Helen Barton purchased building from Tom and Wilma Allinghame for $2,000.
• 1954 – The depot was moved when Highway 50 was realigned.
• Mid-1990s – Boyd Mitchell inherits the depot from Helen Barton.
• 2003 – Developer Jim Bawden purchases the depot from Mitchell
• February 2007 – Lyon County Commission purchases the depot from Bawden, using grant money.
• July 2007 – The commission approves a stewardship agreement with the Historical Society of Dayton Valley to restore and maintain the depot.