Storytellers: Volunteers restore Como Depot, railway

A long-forgotten railroad was revived - and an important part of Colorado history is now restored.

COMO - If the saying goes, "it takes a village..." then, in this case, it takes a village to bring one back.

"The first train to reach Como was in June 1879," said David Tomkins, the owner of Como Depot.

Tomkins and volunteers like Todd Hackett have been spending day after day rebuilding history in this Park County town about 75 miles southwest of Denver.

"This summer, we've extended quite a bit, basically from this side of the station all the way to where we are now," Hackett said.

He's been laying track by hand, leading from the now-restored Como Depot.

"Originally, it was just really to set the scene because for many, many years people didn't know what this building was apart from a shed that looked like it was going to fall down," Tomkins said.

More than 130 years ago, The Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroad brought people to Como to look for gold and silver.

"People came to Colorado to get rich quick," Tomkins said.

Now, he hopes people come back to Como to see history reborn.

"We never really expected a steam locomotive," Hackett said.

Charles and Kathy Brantigan decided that if all those people were going to all that trouble to restore the tracks and depot, they're going to need a train.

"Her name is Klondike Kate and she was born in February of 1912," Kathy Brantigan said.

The steam engine ran one season in the Yukon in Canada before spending decades wasting away in storage, according to the Brantigans. Klondike Kate was fully restored in time for a debut in Como to celebrate the restoration project running a train in Como for the first time in nearly 80 years. 

"It's a sense of identity and place that we're preserving and that's important in our heritage because it guides us in the future," Charles Brantigan said.

The Denver, South Park & Pacific Historical Society contributed time and volunteers to the project.

"We're not really railroad people, but the history of the state is entwined in the railroads," Charles Brantigan said. "It defines who we are."

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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