and the Stories they Tell
—Voices from the Past —
"Union Station belongs to all of us."
Union Station neighbor, 2002
Rich or poor, famous or anonymous, everybody passed through Union Station from the time it opened in 1881. A trip to the station meant something new was about to happen: a visit with relatives or friends for the first or last time, an extended leave for military service, the start of a new life in Denver, or connection to a final destination.
The building was a hub of activity. Armies of conductors, switchmen, and engineers ran the trains with military-style proficiency. Keeping schedules, ensuring passenger safety, and maintaining personal safety around dangerous machinery made railroad jobs hazardous and demanding.
Hundreds more worked in the offices and the building even had its own emergency hospital, police force, jail, library and barber shop.
For decades after the decline of passenger rail travel in the 1950s, people came to eat and drink at Union Station's bars and restaurants, or marvel at the elaborate model train displays that traveled through intricate Colorado scenes.
People who spent their careers at Union Station never lost faith in its resurgence. One employee who worked here for 46 years summed it up best: "Railroads always will be the backbone of the nation." Even
though many of the early railroad traditions have vanished, a whole new era began in 2014 with the revival of Union Station in the center of a downtown transformation.