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Monday, November 14, 2016

Is the Sun Setting on the Stafford Depot?

Sunset, July 15, 2016
Is the sun setting on the Stafford Depot?

An email campaign to  BNSF Railroad is underway to save the depot. In recent weeks, the windows were removed from the building, and the rumor mill was swirling that the depot would be torn down. Stafford native and historian F. Clare Moore started investigating. This wasn't Clare's first foray into trying to save the depot. Ten years ago, he also led efforts to keep the depot from the wrecking ball. This time, he says, the railroad personnel were helpful in trying to connect him with the right person.

On Thursday, Clare posted this to his Facebook page:
SAVE THE STAFFORD DEPOT! OK, here's your chance to make a difference. A huge email campaign would impact the saving of the depot. Send an email to Andy Williams, Kansas Public Affairs director for BNSF Railroad, and indicate your support for saving the Stafford ATSF Depot in Stafford, Kansas. Tell him you support for saving the depot and anything else that you want to say. It is vital that you bombard him with emails. It WILL make a difference if anything will. He needs to know of community support. His email address is Please share this and get to as many people as possible whether they have a Stafford connection or not.
Clare proposes pursuing a Transportation Enhancement grant. If a grant were awarded, 80 percent of the money for restoration would come from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the remaining 20 percent would need to be raised from the community and supporters, Clare says.
The depot has been a landmark in Stafford for more than 100 years. An article on the front page of the August 25, 1910, Stafford Courier announced the news that a new $14,000 Santa Fe train station would be built at Stafford.
It is with the keenest sort of pleasure that The Courier is able to announce definitely that the new depot is soon to be a reality. For about five years, this new structure has been one of the things that Stafford has desired and needed above all else.

E.C. Smith, agent of the Santa Fe here, received word from Topeka Tuesday that the construction of the new Santa Fe depot in Stafford would start in about three weeks. ... Just about five years ago, the people of this city took up the matter with the Santa Fe Company. Letters were written to the officials about all of the business men of the city and as a result of this bombardment of literary missiles, Superintendent Ayers and some other of the big men of the company came here to talk it over with our citizens.  ..."
From the August 25, 1910 Stafford Courier

I suppose it's ironic that "literary missiles" will again be part of the Stafford Depot story. This time, they are being sent through cyberspace. The people of 1910 would find the technology hard to fathom, I suppose. And they likely wouldn't believe that the depot - which was so vital to their commerce a century ago - hasn't been used for decades.
Stafford has for years enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best paying shipping points on this great system. The tonnage in and out of Stafford has far exceeded that of many towns of much greater size. Stafford has had the reputation with the company of being a genuine 18-karat live-wire town, and the new depot we are soon to have will prove an added stimulus in keeping it so. We have worked hard and we have waited long for this thing, and we appreciate it the more for our working and waiting.
August 25, 1910, Stafford Courier
I found an article about standardized railroad stations in Kansas at the Kansas State Historical Society website. On page 13 of the 14-page article, there was a photo of Stafford's depot. (I couldn't find the date of publication.)

In the article, it said that the Stafford depot was patterned after one built in Girard, Kansas. (See page 4 of the document.)

As far as I remember, the depot hasn't been in use for the 35+ years I've been part of the community. But it has been the subject of more than one photo during that time - from me and from other photographers. I took the most recent ones in July during the Stafford County Fair. The sky was so beautiful that I walked across the road from the 4-H beef show to snap a few photos. I had others at sunset, but I also found this 2010 shot when the scene included scattered snowflakes.
While the depot hasn't been used for years, it is a landmark part of Stafford's history.
Stafford was a major grain depot for the county with two grain elevators, one at the north and the other at the south end of town. In 1887, two railroads came to Stafford:  the Chicago, Kansas and Western, which 10 years later became the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, and the Denver, Memphis and Atlantic, which became the Missouri Pacific. Their depots were located at either end of Union Street, the Santa Fe at the north end and the Missouri Pacific depot at the south end ... The Missouri Pacific depot was demolished in 1984 and its brick was used for planters lining Main Street.

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