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RAILROAD HISTORY

Railroad depot hits century mark (After 100-plus years of challenges)

By Cassandra Cridland

T

he historic depot serving Sandpoint celebrates its centennial this year, a milestone that is nothing less than a miracle when you consider the challenges city leaders faced to get the railroad to build it in the first place, followed by a string of struggles to keep it intact. In 1916, the newly constructed Northern Pacific Railroad Depot straddled the line between the disappearing Village of Sand Point located on the east side of Sand Creek and the growing City of Sandpoint located on the west side. Today in its centennial year, sandwiched between the U.S. Highway 95 bypass and an active stretch of Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad track, the recently renovated red brick depot with Tudor Gothic ornamentation is a testament to the temerity and tenacity of the citizens of Bonner County. The original depot built by Northern Pacific Railway (NP) in the early 1880s for the Village of Sand Point was a wooden structure modeled after Victorian lines and decorated with gingerbread trim. This functional building served as both freight and passenger depot for the NP line but soon became too small and shabby for the growing community. The first rumblings that NP intended to make changes to the existing depot began in December 1904 in a reported conversation between Mr. Alfred Beamer, superintendent of the Idaho division of the Northern Pacific, and Mr. B.S. Deffenbach of Sandpoint, in which Beamer intimated that a new freight depot would be constructed. By January 1905, the rumors of depot changes were confirmed. The Northern Idaho News reported in its Jan. 6 edition that “Mr. Beamer stated that his company would erect a handsome new station building here the coming summer, fitted up with all the modern conveniences. The location he stated would be on the opposite side of the tracks from the present depot, near where now stands the Sandpoint Cedar Company’s store.” SUMMER 2016

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This meant changes, including moving existing businesses that stood in the way; however, business owners complied with little grumbling, anticipating the influx of workers spending money in town and the potential for community growth.

The fight to get it built The following report appeared in the Oct. 20, 1905, edition of the Northern Idaho News: “The Northern Pacific architect was in Sandpoint the latter part of last week drawing plans for the new passenger depot and laying out the grounds for the same. … The material for the new depot has

Top: The renovated station pictured in 2015. PHOTO BY AL SEGER Middle: The same train station around 1916. MATT SCHMITT COLLECTION, BONNER COUNTY MUSEUM

Above: Original 1880s depot, as seen in 1912. PHOTO BY DICK HIMES/ROSS HALL COLLECTION

SANDPOINT MAGAZINE

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5/10/16 2:35 PM

Sandpoint Magazine Summer 2016  

In this Issue: Dog Town, Idaho How people and their dogs have created Sandpoint’s copious canine culture Plus ‘Peaking’ Our Interest - Peak...

Sandpoint Magazine Summer 2016  

In this Issue: Dog Town, Idaho How people and their dogs have created Sandpoint’s copious canine culture Plus ‘Peaking’ Our Interest - Peak...