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Stories Along the Line: New trains and old farming history

North Metro Rail will traverse a region rich in farming history. Thornton was founded in the 1950s, but there is a historic town that predates it. Eastlake became the heart of western Adams County's agricultural region when Union Pacific Railroad opened a branch line running through the town in 1908.

It provided a direct link to Denver's cattle and grain markets and farm products. Business, freight and passenger service traveled to and from Denver daily.

Farmers irrigated more land and crops boomed, which precipitated a greater need for grain storage. That's when grain elevators first popped up in the area.

Future Eastlake 124th Avenue Station
Future Eastlake 124th Avenue Station

Next stop: Eastlake Station

In 1914, a group of local farmers and business leaders built the Eastlake
Grain Elevator, which fire destroyed in the late 1980s. Another group
formed the Eastlake Farmers Co-Operative Elevator in 1920, and it served the community until it was shuttered in the early 1990s.

At one time, two grain elevators sat along Eastlake's train tracks along with an alfalfa mill, cattle pens and a salting station for pickled cucumbers.

Invented in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1840, grain elevators transfer grain through spouts that pour directly into railroad cars so farmers can transport it to market in large quantities.

The Eastlake Farmers Co-Operative Elevator was named to the National Register of Historic Places and the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties in May 2010 for its contribution to Colorado history. The area around the elevator, located near the
future 124th Eastlake Station on RTD's North Metro Rail Line, is set to become a historical exhibit on the Eastlake Heritage Trail.

Little known facts

In March 2014, the owners of Boulder-area McDonald's restaurants, Aaron and
Damita Holland, donated a historic caboose to Thornton, and it, too, will be put on display and become part of the Eastlake Heritage Trail's historical exhibit area.

Caboose in place next to historic Eastlake Grain Elevator near <br />124th Avenue in Thornton, Colo. March 27, 2014
Caboose next to historic Eastlake Grain
Elevator near 124th Avenue in Thornton, Colo. March 27, 2014. Photo by:
Lindsey Smith

The caboose was built in 1920 as a freight car for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad and was converted to a caboose sometime between 1942 and 1944, as increased shipping during World War II required additional living space for railroad workers. The caboose was in use until 1977, and was later assigned to Stapleton Airport.

In 1978, the caboose was restored and used at the 28th Street McDonald's restaurant for children's birthday parties. The caboose sits on railroad track donated and installed by Union Pacific Railroad with help from the City of Thornton's Streets Division.

It takes a region...

Just as the Union Pacific Railroad helped shape the Eastlake community, RTD is honored to break ground on the new North Metro Rail Line and start a new chapter
for the north area by providing transit options and offering more regional connectivity.

RTD FasTracks and its regional partners will continue to work together to serve the Colorado public. RTD is committed to building out FasTracks, including the North Metro Rail Line, sooner rather than later so people in the region will have more transit options as they choose where to live, work and play.



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