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Metolius Depot shows off new colors

Open house, ice cream social July 21

by: Photo by Susan Matheny - Metolius Public Works Supervisor Pat Hanenkrat stands on the deck of the repainted depot with an old keg dolly  that was found in the storeroom.


   The public is invited to come see the refurbishing of the historic Metolius Train Depot's exterior at an open house and ice cream social from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., July 21.
   The depot recently received a warm, rich-toned coat of paint, changing it from the former green and white Burlington Northern Railroad colors, to new mustard and brown Santa Fe Railroad colors.
   The Metolius train depot painting project was made possible with grants from the State Historic Preservation Office, the Ford Family Foundation and the BNSF Foundation.
   According to Metolius Public Works Supervisor Pat Hanenkrat, the 100-year-old wood of the building was much in need of new paint.
   "Then we were contacted by Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council that grant money was available for historical building upgrades," Hanenkrat said.
   A sizable project, it cost $26,350 to strip and paint the building.
   "It was a very extensive stripping process because it was all lead-based paint in multilayers," he said, noting Corky Wray Construction of Bend did the work, starting April 20 and finishing June 1.
   While stripping off old paint, they found the depot had been salmon colored at one time, and then uncovered the old Santa Fe Railroad colors. After much consideration, it was decided to paint the depot with the mustard yellow and brown trim as it once was.
   Siding on the south side was so weathered that it had to be replaced. Luckily, there is a wood salvaging business in Metolius, which was able to locate 100-year-old boards in good condition, so the restoration work would be historically correct.
   The next step, pending funding, Hanenkrat said, will be to replace doors and windows that have been damaged over the years with same era-style ones.
   Inside, the south side of the depot has been restored and is used as a community center for pancake breakfasts, community movies, bunco games, a Santa's workshop, and wedding, anniversary and funeral receptions.
   However the north end of the building hasn't been touched. "It's left exactly as it was when they closed the railroad office and walked out in 1980," Hanenkrat said.
   The small office contains old typewriters, railroad books. maps and records. A side room holds an old keg dolly and other railroad unloading and maintenance equipment.
   The city of Metolius eventually would like to turn that room into a museum. "Hopefully, this month we will start cataloging and storing those artifacts, before we begin cleaning up and restoring the area," he said.
   Depot history
   The Metolius Train Depot was erected in 1911 by the Oregon Trunk Line Inc.
   During the early 1900s, railroads established divisional points at intervals of approximately 100 miles, as was the case in Metolius, where a depot and roundhouse were constructed.
   Metolius, which is located 110.2 miles from the Oregon Trunk origin at Wishram Wash., was the logical division point for the railway and was selected because it was at the head of the pusher grade, in flat, open country.
   With the construction of the railroad facilities, the city of Metolius began to grow. Within six years of the depot's installation, the city was bustling with a population of 1,700 residents.
   However, in the 1920s, the railroad moved its facilities south to Bend and the Metolius depot was used a lot less.
   The depot's interior provided living quarters for a telegrapher, separate waiting rooms for men and women, a freight room and warm room for express and baggage.
   The railroad office closed in 1980. In 1984, the city of Metolius purchased the depot for $1, and with the help of community members, it was able to move the depot to its current location, which is approximately 50 feet to the east of the original location.