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Developer buys Dayton depot for chamber

Karl Horeis

A developer has purchased the old Carson & Colorado Railroad Depot in downtown Dayton to save it from development. Jim Bawden of Landmark Homes will rent the building to the Dayton Chamber of Commerce for $1 a year for a visitors center and office.

“It’s about helping the community and about doing something the community can wrap its arms around,” said Bawden. “The bottom line is this would become a focal point for downtown.”

He paid $450,000 for the building and surrounding property on the northwest corner of Highway 50 and Main Street at Dayton’s only stop light. The plan is to turn the corner into a park-like visitors’ center with several buildings, trees and a parking lot.

The chamber and historical society had been banking on a grant from the Nevada Department of Transportation to purchase and restore the area.

“We did not receive (the grant) in this round so we’re going to have to reapply,” said Roxie Payne of the chamber.

“We were going to lose the building, but Jim saved it for us.”

Together Bawden and the chamber are forming the Dayton Station Foundation, a nonprofit group aimed at caring for the corner in the future.

“The property will definitely go the foundation, which is forming now,” Bawden said.

One idea for the corner is to put train tracks in which might someday connect to the reconstructed V&T Railroad in Mound House.

The foundation plans to move the depot building closer to the highway. The Dayton Chamber of Commerce will then move inside. The refinished building will look a lot like the station at the Nevada Railroad Museum in Carson City, Bawden said.

Bawden bought the depot from William Boyd Mitchell, trustee of the Mitchell family estate. Boyd Mitchell inherited it from Helen Barton when she died in the mid-1990s. She purchased it when it was moved for the construction of the highway in 1955. Mitchell retired as a captain from the Carson City Fire Department after 27 years in 1994, moving to Coleman, Texas.

Bawden, a real estate developer, is working on several projects around Dayton. His Traditions planned community will include 5,000 homes, a commercial center and a 13-acre lake.

“Certainly, I’m heavily invested in the Dayton area,” he said. “And here’s an opportunity for me to make something happen out there.”

Bawden said part of his motivation for buying the old depot is to prevent what happened to the V&T Railroad Shops at the corner of Washington and Stewart streets in Carson. The historic sandstone building was left unused for years until it was finally torn down.

“There was an opportunity years ago to save that building but nobody did anything about it,” Bawden said. “If you don’t grab something like that and conserve it, it goes away.”

Members of the chamber and historical society have dreamed of conserving the Dayton depot property for years. They provided Bawden with artists’ renderings of how it might look.

“The community has had a vision for years and it’s nice to be able to be a part of it,” he said.

But the project requires planning and money beyond their means.

“My expertise is buying property and getting a good deal,” Bawden said. “I was able to provide the money and hopefully some of the planning expertise.”

The chamber is still seeking funding for the project. Payne said they will re-apply for the $600,000 Department of Transportation grant but must wait two years to see if they are successful.

“We won’t know if we have it until 2005,” she said.

The old depot building will make an attractive visitor’s bureau and chamber office, she said.

“It is quite beautiful inside,” she said. “They’ve taken really good care of it. All the original knotty-pine interior is still there.”

In a similar community investment, Bawden donated $60,000 last spring toward a new ballpark called Jones Field in Mark Twain.

Contact Karl Horeis at khoreis@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.