Sunday, December 3, 2017

Bell tolls, signifying loss of historic structure

Palmer Lake Depot moves on down the road

By Rob Carrigan,
According to area historian Lucille Lavelett, the Monument Presbyterian Church bell was used to sound the alarm in early days when fire broke out in this area and as result, that bell’s toll signified the loss of a number of historic structures over the years.

 The bell tolled the night the Monument Post Office burned in 1904 and then again in 1920 as it burned again. It rang out in 1921 when the original dressmaking shop of City founder's wife Caroline Linder Limbach was lost, and again when the old Iron Side Hotel fell. On March 24, in 1922, Roy and Nellie Petrie heard the bell the evening the Monument Hotel was consumed by flames.
By contrast, in Palmer Lake no bell rang out in 1968 when that village lost one of its most historic structures. But fire was not culprit and the long lonesome whistle of a train may have been more fitting.
“After welcoming travelers for more than 60 years, the Palmer Lake depot is doing a little traveling itself these days,” wrote William Marvel of the Rocky Mountain News late in 1968.
“The ancient wooden structure, decorated with carved fancywork in the Victorian manner, has taken to flatbed truck and is being towed towards a final resting place in South Park.”
In its last years in Palmer Lake, the station was used as an office for the Santa Fe Railroad’s agent that relayed orders to passing train that never stopped. The railroad donated it to a Palmer Lake youth group and as soon as the group realized that its members had no way of getting it off the property, they advertised it ‘for sale.’
Denver advertising executive Shelton Fisher saw the ad and talked to the group’s leader who told him he was selling the building to the first buyer that showed up with $100.
Marvel’s story in the Rocky Mountain News quotes Fisher regarding his immediate interest.
“Thirty-nine minutes later, we were down there. I saw it from the highway and told my wife to write out the check,” he said.
His plans called for having a house mover relocate the structure with a trip of 120 miles that required special dispensation from Charles Shumate, who was then head of the Colorado Highway Department. Part of its route included traveling down uncompleted lanes of I-70 that was known then as the Hampden Avenue Extension, to avoid traffic.
“Once there, it will be set up along with another rail road relic – a wooden caboose given to Fisher by the Colorado and Southern Railway (Burlington),” noted Marvel’s story in the Rocky Mountain News.
Fisher planned to create a bunk house that would sleep ten and connect the two structures with a passageway between them for use as guest ranch of sorts for orphans.
Still, bells and whistles aside, the loss is real, even if most can’t remember any of those buildings. 
It is nice to know where they were.

 Photo info: 
1. Harry S. Maddox, Station Agent, about 1899.
2. Station and Judd's Eating House, 1894.
3. Monument Presbyterian Church 1880, bell used to sound the alarm in early days for outbreaks of fire.

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