Campaign to save historic Loveland depots nears milestone – Loveland Reporter-Herald

At the turn of the 20th century, industrialist Charles Boettcher opened the first Great Western Sugar factory on Monroe Avenue, and transformed Loveland from a sleepy railroad outpost into a growing urban district with a bustling downtown.

At its height, the processing plant and its subsidiaries employed hundreds of locals and spawned numerous new neighborhoods on Loveland’s east side.

Now Boettcher’s philanthropic foundation is stepping up to help preserve an important part of that history.

Earlier this year, it awarded the Loveland Historical Society a $10,000 grant to help relocate and restore two Great Western Railway depots, located just north of the Police and Courts building. The foundation also promised another $15,000 if LHS can match that amount by Nov. 1.

“The freight depot and the passenger depot are the only two Great Western depots still left in their original spots,” LHS Program Chair Sharon Danhauer said. “And that’s the only freight depot standing anywhere.”

The sign on the old Great Western Railway is pictured Monday near 10th Street and Monroe Avenue in Loveland. The Loveland Historical Society is raising money to move and restore the historic depot. (Jenny Sparks/Loveland Reporter-Herald)

The larger depot was built in 1902 when Boettcher launched the Great Western Railway to transport sugar beets from local farms to the 13 processing plants located in Northern Colorado. Passenger service was also available between 1917 and 1926.

The smaller freight depot was constructed in 1942.

“They call that an LCL,” Danhauer said. “Which is railroad lingo for ‘less than a carload,’ because it doesn’t hold a whole carload of freight cargo.”

The two buildings have been vacant since the mid-1980s, after the GW factory closed and the railway was sold.

For the past decade, the current owner of the railroad, OmniTRAX, has been seeking to have the buildings removed, at one point even threatening to have them demolished. That led to a brief agreement with Moffat County to move them to a museum in Granby, but that deal never materialized.

Since 2017, LHS has been raising funds to relocate the buildings 100 feet south to city of Loveland property, but that effort comes with a hefty price tag. Estimated costs for assessment, hazardous materials abatement and relocation of the two structures are nearly $90,000.

Before the Boettcher grant, LHS was about halfway to its goal, thanks to private donations and community fundraisers, including the Railroad Ale collaboration between Loveland brewers in 2021. The Boettcher grant matching funds will go most of the rest of the way toward meeting the goal, Danhauer said.

But LHS still has to earn those matching funds, and is still a few thousand short, with just a month to go before the deadline.

In June, the group launched a commemorative brick sale to help close the gap. Bricks can be purchased for $50 each, and will be inscribed with the purchaser’s choice of wording. They will then be laid at the new site during renovation of the depots.

Once the move is completed, the buildings will then be restored and “repurposed,” possibly into a coffee shop or other retail outlet, though keeping the historic railroad motif.

“It won’t be a museum, because museums don’t make money,” Danhauer said. “But it will have museum-quality pictures or artifacts on the wall or on display.”

The Loveland Historical Society will be accepting online brick orders and donations through Oct. 22 at or by using the ThatsMyBrick form on the Loveland Historical Society website at

LHS will also be accepting sales and donations at the upcoming historical society program at the Loveland Museum on Oct. 13 and at the Pumpkin Festival at the Foundry on Oct. 21.

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