Historic Structures

Union Pacific Railroad Warehouse, Denver Colorado

Date added: January 29, 2010 Categories: Colorado Train Station

Denver was founded on the dreams of gold discovery, but Denver's early settlers realized that the establishment of railroad traffic was the key to a stable prosperity for the city. When the Union Pacific Railroad chose to bypass Denver and go through Cheyenne, Wyoming, on its transcontinental route, Denver businessmen organized and raised funds to bring the Kansas Pacific into Denver. At the same time, John Evans, Colorado's second territorial governor, convinced Congress to agree to a 900,000 acre land grant for the Union Pacific on the condition that it would connect the Kansas Pacific and the Union Pacific. Thus, the first Union Pacific train arrived from Cheyenne In June 1870, and the first Kansas Pacific train arrived from Kansas two months later.

By 1890, 4,176 miles of track were in use in Colorado. Denver was the focus of rail activity in the region. As the rail lines converged in Denver, so did the wholesalers, warehousers and merchants. Goods were shipped in, primarily from the east, and shipped out to all parts of Colorado. Smelters moved from mining towns to Denver. "Labor was more plentiful, ores could be brought in by rail from several mining communities, fuel could be hauled there more cheaply, and the refined gold, silver, and copper could be shipped out efficiently."

In 1896, the Union Pacific opened new shops at Pullman, north of Denver. Pullman, later to become a part of Denver, was no more than shops and a station, the station located at Fortieth Avenue and York Street. Repair and service facilities were consolidated there, resulting in an expansion of its freight yards in the city's commercial district.

The Union Pacific increased its freight traffic by developing industries and adding lines to serve those and other industries. Beginning in 1908, the company developed coal mines north of Denver and, in 1910, added lines to the wheat fields of northeast Colorado.

Also in 1910 the Union Pacific strengthened its terminal facilities in Denver by purchasing, for $40,000, a parcel of land between Wazee and Wewatta and Twentieth and Twenty-first Streets. This is a portion of the land upon which the Union Pacific Railroad Warehouse would later be built.

Eight different railroad lines were located in Denver in 1914, including the Santa Fe, the Burlington, the Rock Island and the Union Pacific, by which time Colorado had 5,739 miles of track. Much of this trackage was due to expanded agricultural activity in the state.

In late 1922, construction was begun on a new Union Pacific Railroad Warehouse on 19th Street in Denver. A 1926 newspaper article stated: "In going after the business in Denver the Union Pacific has, from the beginning , . . been vigorous, and has spent money with a lavish hand. New freight facilities for Denver have been provided at an expense of more than $600,000. This Includes brick pavement for its inbound and outbound freight houses, and all of its other team tracks completely paved, giving about a mile and a half of paved alleys for freight purposes.

One of a series of photographs which chronicles the construction of the warehouse includes a construction sign with the following information: P.J. Sullivan, General Contractor; Architectural terra cotta. Denver Ten-a Cotta Company; M. & H. Electric Company; and Millwork, McFee and McGinty. No architect is listed for the work. Generally, the engineering division of the Union Pacific in Omaha, Nebraska, did its own architectural work.