MainStreet depot project on track

QCSun staff

Tucumcari MainStreet program director Mark Lake said his organization’s Tucumcari Train Depot revitalization project is on schedule and should be on track to use all of its $1.4 million in state funding by June 2011.

MainStreet is currently awaiting bids from contractors to restore the building’s 47 windows and 17 doors to their original 1926 condition. Roof restoration will take place during the window and door repairs and work on the building’s interior will follow. Roof, window and door work is expected to begin by the end of December.

Lake said the state Department of Cultural Affairs has made arrangements with Union Pacific Railroad to run a steam train from the railroad’s Heritage Fleet across New Mexico as part of the state’s 2012 centennial celebration.

Tentative plans are to run the train sometime next fall, and Lake said he has been told the Tucumcari Train Depot will be the heritage train’s first stop.

“We’re hoping that we’ll have enough work done in this building that we could coordinate having some sort of grand opening celebration of the work that we’ve done with the building to coincide with the day that that train comes, to make a big day out of it, hopefully big enough that we shut the whole town down for a day,” Lake said.

Lake explained how the building’s architecture, with its arches adorning each end of the depot, makes it special.

“A large number of the missionary revival people built (train depots). There were only three or four that were built with multiple arches. I think it’s a very good possibility that this is maybe one of one or two or three left in the country that have multiple arches. From a historical architectural standpoint it’s pretty significant,” Lake said.

Museum consultant Tim Tennant will help MainStreet come up with a plan for how the railway depot museum will be organized.

“At this point all our attention is focused on getting this place functioning, and then the focus will be on creating a museum, gathering a collection of museum-quality artifacts and that sort of thing,” Lake said.

Construction crews have re-surfaced the area’s Railroad Avenue and the portion of Second Street that leads to the depot building. Lake said the Second Street revitalization project should be complete in the next two weeks with the exception of period streetlights, which should be in place by the end of December.

Lake estimated that, if state officials designate the train depot site as the official New Mexico state railway museum, and if local agencies can adequately market the museum, the site could anticipate anywhere from 25,000 to 75,000 visitors per year.

“When it’s all done, I think we will be the crown jewel of Tucumcari,” Lake said.