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The Rio Grande Depot was constructed in 1910. The building was designed by Henry Schlack, a Chicago architect known mainly for designing churches. For years the Rio Grande would serve as the return and departure point for many men and woman. From its opening in 1910, until the closing of its passenger service in 1999. Built for the Denver Rio Grande and Western Railroad, at a cost of $750,000, the building was located just blocks away from the Union Pacific Depot. From 1986 to 1999 the Depot ran as Salt Lake City’s Amtrak station, replacing the Union Pacific Depot. It was serviced by “The California Zephyr,” “Desert Wind,” and the “Pioneer Trains.” The last train ran through the Rio Grande on May 29th, 1979. It now houses the State Historical Office, the Utah Historical Research Center, the Rio Gallery in the Depot Museum, and the Rio Grande Cafe.

  • Rio Grande Depot
  • Soliders returning home from the war
  • Rio Grande & Western Pacific Union Depot
  • Damage from the 5.7 earthquake
  • More damage caused from the earthquake that hit Magna Utah
  • The Depot shining bright in the night sky
  • Train Schedule for the Rio Grande Depot
  • Article from "The Western Monthly"

In 1881, work on the Rio Grande Western Railroad commenced. By 1883, workers had completed construction, and the Rio Grande merged with other lines to become part of a great transcontinental system. The line connected with the Union and Southern Pacific railroads in Ogden, Utah. In 1855, the Denver & Rio Grande connected at Grand Junction, Colorado. The Rio Grande was a narrow gauge road until 1887 when it was widened to the standard gauge for that time. In 1901, it passed to the control of the Denver & Rio Grande and became a rail line in the system held by financier Jay Gould.

In addition to its interesting record in urban and railroad history, the Depot has also spawned a bit of popular folklore and legend. For Example, some believe the Depot to be a hot spot for paranormal activity, such as the story of "The Purple Lady." This folk tale claims that a woman, in the heat of an argument with her fiancé threw her ring onto the tracks. When she went to retrieve the ring she was allegedly hit by an incoming train. Some say she can still be seen in the women's bathroom and other locations throughout the Depot still sadly looking for her ring.

The Rio Grande Depot has received some bad reviews on the Utah State Historical Society's website, because of its location near the Road Home, a homeless shelter known as a hot spot for drug trafficking. Fortunately with the relocation of the Road Home and "Operation Rio Grande" it is now a more appealing place to visit for tourists. Unfortunately however it is closed for repairs right now because of damage caused by the 5.7 earthquake that hit Magna, Utah on March 18th, 2020.

Shown in the images below you will see some of the damage caused by the earthquake to the structure of the Depot, as well as some photos from the 1900's of soldiers returning home from war and a 1909 article from a journal, The Western Monthly. An additional picture shows a train schedule displaying the former services and rail lines for the Rio Grande Depot.

Utah State Historical Society

The Western Monthly

Image Sources(Click to expand)