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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Santa Fe Depot window and overhang restoration begins

  • A six-month project to refurbish the soffits and windows on the south and west sides of the Santa Fe Depot began earlier this week, the first of two related projects.
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  • A six-month project to refurbish the soffits and windows on the south and west sides of the Santa Fe Depot began earlier this week, the first of two related projects.
    Through the years, old brick and stone buildings will shift, damaging wood sills and doors, said Melissa McCoy, the special projects coordinator with the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau.
    It's best to stay on top of the maintenance needed to keep the working depot, the largest between Kansas City and Albuquerque on the line, up to its tasks, McCoy said.
    "They're not just old buildings," McCoy said of the city's architectural heritage, "but important to our history."
    "It has such a rich history — the train and Dodge City are intertwined — and a lot of people in the community have put their blood, sweat and tears into preserving it."  
    Construction of the train depot, the third in Dodge City's history, was completed in 1897 near the end of the year and was dedicated in 1898. In 1909, the west addition to the building was completed.
    In the early days of the depot, it housed a "Harvey House" named El Vaquero, a rail-side, jacket-required restaurant, started by Fred Harvey. Harvey Houses became one of the first successful chain restaurants. Harvey also operated a hotel out of the building and the whole enterprise was made even more famous with the help of "Harvey's Girls," his all-women serving staff in black and white frocks that were bound to contracts and codes of ethics.
    Though the hotel and restaurant are long closed, the depot continues as a warm greeting to visitors arriving by train late at night when the Southwest Chief reaches Dodge City, McCoy said.
    "It's so welcoming when the train pulls in," she said. "It's all lit up at night, it's beautiful, there are volunteers waiting."
    The volunteers keep the coffee pot fresh and help travelers navigate their way. Recently, when the 5 a.m. train was hours late, those volunteers stayed until it arrived, McCoy said.
    Last year, 5,149 travelers arrived or left from the station and the station generated nearly $550,000.
    The project was made possible through a mixture of funding sources include the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund, "Why Not Dodge?" special sales tax and state tax credits given to donors. The project is budgeted at $237,722 which includes a 20 percent contingency fee.
    The Kansas Department of Transportation will begin work on the north and east sides of the building in late fall, weather permitting.

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