Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Depot
(Currently the home of Utah State Historical Society)
Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Depot building, which now is the home of the Utah State Historical Society, is one block north of West 4th and one block west of Pioneer Park, near the corner of West 3rd Street on South Rio Grand Street.
Utah State Historical Society
300 S Rio Grande Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101.
Phone: 801-533-3500 * Web-Site
One can describe this old train depot building as a beautifully renovated, restored Salt Lake City gem from the city's past, now appropriately the home of The Utah State Historical Society, the organization responsible for buying the rundown building for a dollar and spearheading its return to its former glory.
While I can't find a detailed description of its specific description, one can gather it was built to give the people an eyeful of beauty and grandeur; A solidly built, yet artistically stone/brick structure sporting the architecture popular in 1910. It looks like it has stained glass, lovely masonry work, and probably has more lovely wood and stone craftsmanship inside as well.
There is a basement/cellar area, and two floors, with some balconies on the second floor. The building now houses the offices of The Utah State Historical Society, their large library, resource center, various exhibits, and a restaurant.
Utah History Research Center hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 AM-4:30 PM / Sat, 9 AM-1 PM //Free Admission.
In 1910, this grand building was constructed by The Rio Grande Western Railroad, reflecting not only the prosperity and growth of Salt Lake City during this time, but also of the competitive spirit which existed between the established Union Pacific Railroad and this up and coming competitor, The Rio Grande Western Railroad. The man behind this railroad line, George Gould spent $750,000 of his own money to build this impressive depot, which was quite a chunk of change in 1910! From this Salt Lake City depot, George built rail lines to the coast, and managed to break the monopoly of the established Union Pacific, but lost his railroad empire as the end result.
Over the years (1910-1947) that this building operated as a railroad depot, many outsiders came to Salt Lake City, a bustling city of economic opportunity for both Mormons and Gentiles, except during the 1920s and Depression years, which hit Salt Lake City very hard. The WW2 years brought a new industry to Salt Lake City; the industries needed for of war and defense, which found a home there after the end of WW2 as well.
From 1948, The Rio Grande Western Railroad building continued to house various businesses, but by the 1970s the building was badly in need of renovation and repair. Though solidly built to last, 60+ years had taken their toll. Luckily, in 1977, The Utah State Historical Society stepped up to the plate, bought this immense building for a dollar, and did a fantastic job restoring this building to its former glory. George Gould would be pleased!!
Many Ghosts have called this building home. The hauntings were first noticed by the living in 1940.
1) Evidence of a tragedy which resulted from an engaged couple's heated breakup.
* An apparition of a very beautiful, black-haired woman, wearing an old-fashioned purple dress haunts the ladies room and the Rio Grande Cafe. Long ago, this woman was struck by a train as she frantically went to pick up the engagement ring her fiancee had thrown on the tracks in a fit of anger after they had quarreled; a fight which ended their engagement.
2) Could this be the ghost of George Gould, pondering his business woes, as well as keeping an eye on the living?
Or perhaps this entity is a manager of this depot who truly loved his job, and didn't want to leave it?
Or perhaps it is the ex-fiancee of the woman mentioned above?
* Security guards have heard and felt the presence of an unknown restless spirit who walks the balcony and the lobby area.
* The living have also seen an apparition of a man walking around the first floor. This spirit is probably the same one heard and felt in the balcony and lobby area.
3) The Ghosts have parties too!
* One unsuspecting security guard crashed an unauthorized ghostly celebration going on in the cellar when he went down to check the area, because he had noticed the lights were going on and off by themselves. Having been busted, the ghosts quickly vanished.
The ghosts continue to make this building their home, unable or unwilling to go to the other side.
Haunted Places, The National Directory
by Dennis William Hauck
Some Photos by Tom Carr and Julie Carr