Frozen In Time: St. Cloud Train Depot [VIDEO]
ST. CLOUD -- A 105 year old St. Cloud train station could soon undergo some renovations to revitalize train service in the area. The depot is a product of the Northern Pacific Railroad. It was built in the late 1800s as a hub to connect a rail line from Minneapolis to St. Cloud.
Northern Pacific wanted to run a line from Superior to Brainerd and up through Fargo. The ultimate goal was to build west toward the Northern Pacific near Washington State.
After the Civil War, the rail line moved to St. Cloud from Minneapolis. The first depot in St. Cloud was a wooden structure that was located at the same site as the current building. Eventually, the wooden structure was lifted up and moved to a different location. The railroad company built a new wood building in 1880 to replace it. The
structure lasted until 1909.
Stearns History Museum archivist John Decker says the railroad company wanted to build a beautiful passenger depot. The original plans called for a building that was made of granite. However, Decker says the building plans were changed and instead called for brick with a granite base and granite trim. The total cost was about $30,000. He speculates that the change was made to cut costs.
The structure served as a basic passenger depot. They had about five to ten trains leaving the station every day for many decades. In the 1950s ridership started to decline. Other means of transportation like bus service and air service began to grow.
1971 was the last year that passenger trains left the station every two to three hours. That same year Amtrak took over the operation and leased the building from BNSF Railway. Since then, they have been offering twice-a-day passenger train service.
St. Cloud mayor Dave Kleis says the city wants to work to renovate and preserve the train depot. He says the station would be a great place for the Northstar Corridor. "It will take place, it's just when will it take place," says Kleis.
Kleis continues, "if you look at studies nationally, more people are living in those urban cores and they are utilizing public transit at a higher percentage than they have in the last several decades."
The city is exploring renovation options and looking at ways to utilize the train depot space on a regular basis.
"The railroad has been a big part of the history of the community. The aspect of moving people, passengers and goods has been a significant part of it. It has really grown the community over the years," says Kleis.