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Dossier: The Railroad Reaches Brighton and the Mystery of Three Depots

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Sleuthing Brighton Colorado, with a full Investigative Report by the Brighton History Detective® (aka Robin Kring)

Case Number: 00008, Identify Mural Subject

Mural Location: “Historic Brighton at Founders Plaza” by Hans Joseph Geist

Subject Identified: The Denver Pacific Railway reaches site of present-day Brighton

RAILROAD REACHES PRESENT-DAY BRIGHTON (1870), Union Pacific (UP) Locomotive #2497 is shown stopped at Brighton in 1956. “Hughes Station” remained only a name on the map at Mile Post #19, until track was completed from Cheyenne to Hughes Station in 1870. On June 7, 1870 the Denver Pacific Railway reached present-day Brighton, completing a 2,000 ft. (railroad track) siding at Hughes. The next day the company reported that the walls of the freight depot were up and that about 1,000 townspeople came to inspect the job. It was located at about one-half block north of present-day Bridge St., on the east side of the tracks. In 1873, the rail outpost consisted of a wood frame depot, water tower, windmill, a section house, a corral, a stable, and cabins where section crews stayed. Andrew Bush’s house was added at some point between 1870 and 1875. There was little progress in the area until Daniel F. Carmichael laid out and filed a townsite in 1881. With this, and the completion of a new Union Pacific (UP) depot in 1882, the town grew rapidly

In 1907, a third structure, a Union Pacific depot, was built along 2nd St. (later renamed Cabbage Ave.), north of Bridge St. near Strong St. The frame depot had a waiting room, freight room, and offices for operations and the conductor. It not only served as a transportation and shipping center, it was the scene of several local celebrations and meetings. The old building was reported first moved south of the site and then to Erie, Colorado, but in recent history has not been located.

The 1907 depot (pictured on mural) was moved to a new location in 1981, from west side of tracks to its current location at 269 E. Bridge St. (on the east side of the tracks, slightly south of its original location). The depot was converted to a restaurant for several years, and later used as a bicycle shop and the Greater Brighton Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau. The Brighton Train Depot received historic designation and was placed on the Local Historic Register on Nov. 13, 2018.

©2023 Robin Kring, including excerpts from The Mystery of Brighton’s Name and A Postcard History of Brighton

Discover More About the Artist and the Detective

Learn more about the Artist, Hans Joseph Geist, behind the Historic Brighton at Founders Plaza mural, in the Brighton History Detective® dossier, The Case of the New Mural and its Artist (Hans Joseph Geist). See more of Hans art at: Art by Hans Geist on Facebook.

Find more Investigative Case Reports, by Brighton History Detective®, each revealing the identity of one of the 20 intriguing Brighton characters and places, painted on the mural. Investigate the sleuthing and writing stories of yesteryear, mystery, and intrigue on the Clear Creek Publishing Authors Blog site, including: New Fiction, Victoriana, Event Planning Extraordinaire, Colorado History, and Cemetery Chats.

The Historic Brighton at Founders Plaza mural is located on the southwest corner of Main St. and Bridge St., in Brighton, Colorado. The mural is a project of the Brighton Cultural Arts Commission, whose mission is to increase arts and culture awareness and promote cultural and scientific opportunities in our community. It has been made possible with funding from the SCFD and Brighton Lodging Tax Grants.

®Brighton History Detective is a registered trademark of Clear Creek Publishing.

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