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Marysvale depot demolished

(Richfield Reaper, 19 March 1964)

End Of A Building Becomes The End Of An Era In Marysvale's History

Marysvale -- Demolition of the 64-year old Marysvale station of the Denver and Rio Grande Western depot is much more than the end of a building. It is literally the end of an era.

The era's end had its beginnings back in 1949 when passenger train service to communities on the railroad's spur line from Thistle to Marysvale was discontinued. Since then, less and less activity has existed in the railroads stations and many of them have closed down or consolidated with those in nearby towns.

Members of the Marysvale Firemen's Club took on the project of tearing down the depot for the materials they could obtain. The depot was actually closed to the public last December 9 and offices were moved to a small white frame building on U.S. Highway 89 just north of the Marysvale post office.

With the closing of the old depot, Western Union telegraph service, also located in the old building, was terminated.

Despite its limited use in past years, the building remained in the minds of residents as a link to the past. A crowd of onlookers, gathered in the cold February sun, became hushed as workmen took down the portion of the building on which was painted, "Marysvale, elevation 5,839 ft." and "Denver, 813 Mi." The realization came upon many in the crowd that in addition to the sense of loss and feeling of nostalgia attached to the occasion, it also proved that slowly and surely, the old places are disappearing from the landscape.

The old building like the railroad it served, played an important part of Marysvale's social and economic life. It was situated in the extreme southeast part of town, just a stone's throw from the Sevier River.

While the railroad gradually moved south in the early day's of Utah's history, it took the mining boom of the 1890's to bring the train to Marysvale. In 1896, the Sevier Valley Railway, a branch of the D&RGW was extended to a point in Marysvale Canyon known as Belknap. Four years later, the Thistle-Marysvale branch came into Marysvale.

Sept. 9, 1900 was a day of celebration as the first locomotive came steaming into the community. James M. Bolitho, now deceased, and for many years an engineer with the railroad, was on that first train.

Many stories are told concerning the early days of the railroad in Marysvale, but none remembered more often than the one which Engineer Lote Kinney brought the train to a stop just before he reached the depot. As always, there was a crowd waiting to see the train come in, and as always, there was something awesome and fascinating about the great hulk of iron with its steel wheels grinding against steel rails, blowing smoke and coughing steam.

The train stopped abruptly and Kinney blew the whistle, then shouting as loudly as he could, said, "Get out of the way. I'm gonna turn her around."

With the coming of the railroad, a whole new world opened up to the southern Utah area. Marysvale's five hotels did a thriving business. The train's red, plush coaches carried as its passengers mining men, stockmen, farmers and students coming and going to school.

Horse drawn carriages and hacks met the train each morning to pick up the passengers and take them off to either the Bullion, Pines, Grand, Marysvale or Straw Palace hotel.

Overland freighting did a booming business and created additional business in the community. Freighters came from points as far away as Kanab and norther Arizona. Great loads of wool were shipped out on the train after the spring shearing and sheep and cattle by the thousands were rolled away on the train.

Records show the name of a Mr. Jackson as the first agent; others included a man named Farney, T.E. Knaus, Freeman Gross, Oscar S. Stapp and C.U. Brown.

At one time, eight men were employed at the Marysvale station by the railroad.

On Aug. 27, 1947, passenger service was discontinued on the Marysvale branch ending a 48 year chapter in the town.

Just like the passenger train, the old depot just outlived its usefulness. However, the freight train continues its average three-times a week trip to the community.

The depot is gone, but to those who will remember it, like the tone of the final whistle of a steam locomotive, it lingers hauntingly in the memory.

The disappearance of the depot is the passing of an era. An era in the history of this small community of less than 400 persons which is now nothing more than a memory of the past.

Copyright 2006 by Ardis E. Parshall

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