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Union Station


A station building has stood on the same grounds here since 1881. When the first station was built it was the largest building in the west spanning 500 feet with a large clocktower reaching 180 feet high. After a fire and then subsequent need for a larger station, the latest building was completed in 1914. The new station is a Beaux-Arts and Renaissance Revival-style building, made of carved granite and terracotta and has undergone minimal changes to it’s exterior over the last 100 years. One change that did take place however was the addition of the lighted ‘Travel by Train’ sign, which was added in 1952.

The original Union Station circa 1881

As the years pressed on, rail travel declined and passenger service at the station dwindled down to only the winter time Ski Train and Amtrak California Zephyr. By the late 90’s the station was in disrepair and the surrounding area vacant. In 2001 a group that partnered with the local transit authority RTD purchased the complex with plans to revitalize it to it’s former glory and cement it as a foundation of the new Lower Downtown (LoDo) area of Denver. In 2014 after extensive rehabilitation of the interior of the building and re-design of the rail terminal and bus terminals, the building opened once again, 100 years after it’s original opening. Now patrons can visit a variety or restaurants, shops, a bar and a hotel while waiting for the current Amtrak service or RTD rail services that operate from the revamped passenger corridor.

Denver Union Station after the addition of the Travel by Train sign after 1952

Union Station is a core part of rail history and cultural history in the city of Denver, a must see for any visitors or locals alike. Not far from the layout, you can drive, walk or even ride an RTD train right into the heart of Denver and it’s rich rail history.

The new rail complex at Union Station, part of the 2014 rehabilitation

The Layout Model

Union Station is the first stop and the beginning point on the MMRG layout. Passenger trains often originate here after leaving our staging yards hidden behind the walls. From here they’ll move to climb ‘up the hill’ as they work towards the Moffat Tunnel and the Continental Divide.

Union Station and the passenger loading shelters as modeled on the MMRG layout

The model of the Union Station area on the layout is set around the 20’s as we still have trolley’s and cable cars servicing the station from 17th street and downtown, with industries and freight depots lining the spaces around the station. You’ll notice the archway, a unique feature that has since been removed from the area. As a piece to showcase electricity and light, the sign held thousands of individual bulbs that would light up. Here our model is a unique 3d resin printed version. The creator took care to print the model in clear resin, coating it with the paint and tarnish, but by removing the paint from the elevated dots or bulbs, it can now act as a large fiber optic light, and shine as if it had the same thousands of bulbs that the original archway had. A unique blend of modern techniques to replicate historical artifacts.

A birds eye view of the station complex, taken in 2019 you can compare this to the layout as it stands now and see the progress that has been made in scenery and detailing with more to come

More interesting parts are the elevated roadways in the Union Station area. Once the orientation for 16th and 18th streets as they would cross the large railroad yards and then the rive heading west, the remnants of these elevated portions of road are all gone. Metal beams and ornate railings were used to make these passageways to allow citizens access to the Highlands neighborhood without venturing into the dirty rail yards below. These too are modeled on the MMRG layout with 3d printed replica’s, a time consuming process when you can only print a few inches at a time.