Buena Vista Depot & Transportation Museum

Come visit the last remaining authentic depot in Chaffee County.
At the northwest corner of the intersection of Highway 24 and Main Street

We rely on our wonderful volunteers to keep the building open for visitors. Call 395-8458 for Buena Vista Depot Transportation Museum hours. If hanging out in this treasured building sounds like fun to you, we'd love to add you to our list of volunteers!

Admission: $1.00/adult. Children 16 and under are free with an adult. BVH members are free. 

Adding a great artifact to the depot

In 2015, Buena Vista Heritage acquired a vintage safe that now resides in the Depot Museum. We obtained it from a family in Hartsel, who had bought it from the Hartsel Railroad Depot in 1919. We needed $1500 to cover the cost. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this effort.

Pictured with the safe are BVH board members Suzy Kelly and Vic Kuklin, who helped with the purchase and the moving of the safe. We also sincerely appreciate the help of Bryce Kelly, Sue Kuklin, Roger Williams and Jack, Amy and Chad Close.

The safe is located in the depot mail room, as historically, registered mail was required to be locked up.

History of this Depot

This depot was built on East Main, approximately where the current elementary school playground is now. The first railroad in Buena Vista was the Denver, South Park and Pacific in March of 1880. By the time this depot was built in 1890-91, the railroad had changed owners and was renamed the Denver, Leadville and Gunnison RR. The railroad closed in the 1920s.

In 1927, the depot was purchased and moved to the Woodland Brook cabins. It became the residence and office. Apparently, for a while, it may even have been the local birthing house.

In 2002, the kitchen caught fire, damaging the structure. Rather than tear it down, the owners offered it to Buena Vista Heritage. They included half the money needed to move it, and local businesses and individuals contributed the remainder. The Town of Buena Vista offered space in McPhelemy Park. The Depot now sits almost due west of its original location.

Buena Vista Heritage restored the Depot with grants from the Colorado Historical Society, Climax Molybdenum, the Boettcher Foundation, contributions from individuals and business and volunteer labor. The restoration process was lengthy due to the precise nature of taking it back to its original condition. Older Than Dirt Construction took great care to restore the building properly.

Traub Design was hired to create and build the displays located in the Freight Room.  Turn left and follow the articles around the room.  They put in order the advances in transportation through our town from the stage coach wagons to the auto highway. The south part of the building was set aside for the station manager and his family.  The room you first enter is the waiting room, the next room is for the dispatcher.  It contained the telegraph, signals and other tools to control rail traffic as well as ticket sales.  The room to the west was the office that served as a vault for valuables that were not left in the freight room. Finally, step into the  living room/parlor - kitchen - bedroom.  The interior decoration and furnishings are historically accurate.  As originally built, there was no electricity in Buena Vista so no outlets are to be found. The depot is outfitted with antiques and railroad paraphernalia so visitors may step back in time and experience the depot as it was in the 1890s.

Now that it's completed, the Buena Vista Depot is a transportation museum featuring the three railroads in this area’s history.

In 2005, a donor gave us a vintage caboose for display next to the depot. The brown paint represents the Colorado Midland's colors. The red on the west side reflects the CB&Q colors.

If you love sharing the local railroad and transportation history with others, consider volunteering as a Depot docent. Contact us at (719) 395-8458 or e-mail buenavistaheritage@msn.com

This project was the State Historical Fund's spotlighted property for the month of January 2009. Click here to read the article.

The depot restoration was made possible by the generosity of numerous individuals, as well as donations from The Boettcher Foundation, Chaffee County, the Town of Buena Vista, Collegiate Peaks Bank, and the Denver, South Park and Pacific Historical Society.

The freight room exhibit, designed by Traub Design Associates, was funded through a grant from Climax Molybdenum, a Freeport-McMoRan Company.

Depot Bricks for Sale

You can own a piece of local history!

During the first phase of restoration on the Denver, Leadville and Gunnison Depot, the mason determined that the bricks from the original chimneys were not strong enough to retain for the future. So we have bricks to sell to railroad enthusiasts, history buffs and anyone else who'd like a piece of this cherished building for their own.

The price is just $19.95 each plus tax and shipping and handling. If you live locally, you can pick one up at the Heritage Museum and save yourself $18 in shipping and handling.

Contact us to order one for yourself (or for your dad for Father's Day!)

  Depot Brick: $19.95 -- pick up at Museum

  Depot Brick with shipping: $37.95

Depot restoration

The depot platform took shape during April and early May, as the piers were poured, beams laid and boards nailed into place.
Buena Vista Heritage
P.O.Box 1414
Buena Vista, CO 81211
buenavistaheritage@msn.com