The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad will open the Grand Imperial Emporium and Ticket Annex, a gift shop, customer service and visitors’ center on Greene Street in Silverton on Saturday.
The emporium will replace the Silverton train depot as a ticket office on the first day of what could be a busy summer season, said John Harper, general manager of the train.
Reservations for 2017 have exceeded last year, and the company has scheduled 15 to 20 additional trains compared to last year, Harper said.
The new gift shop and ticket office will be adjacent to the Grand Imperial Hotel and visible to those stepping off the train, Harper said. It will also be more accessible and visible from downtown, he said.
“I think it will be fantastic,” Harper said.
The company took over the space on the corner of Greene and 12th streets early this year and remodeled the building with paint and new flooring, he said. It will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“While this is exciting news for both the railroad and its guests, it also marks the end of an era, and a bittersweet moment in the colorful history of this railroad, with the temporary closure of the Silverton depot. However, this is not the end of the line for this marvelous structure,” said Al Harper, owner of the train, in a statement.
First constructed in 1882, Silverton’s train depot on 10th Street was turned into a ticket office and museum after the Harper family bought it in 1999.
While it’s closed, the company plans to update plumbing and electrical services in the building, as well as the outdoor platform, John Harper said.
The first floor of the train depot could reopen this summer with tourism-focused vendors, he said.
The second floor, formerly used for employee housing, may be upgraded to be used as temporary housing again, so crews don’t have to spend so much time traveling to work on the north end of the railroad, John Harper said.
The company will continue to use the building as office space for photographers, storage and a staff break area while it’s closed.
At the hotel, renovations on a new theater space that will host live productions and movies are ongoing, John Harper said.