The Echo Depot

The Significance of Echo Depot

Twenty-seven years have passed since the old Echo Depot had actual train tracks sitting outside its doors. The building that shuttled passengers, loved ones and even the deceased in and out of its doors and onto awaiting trains destined for the farthest corners of this country is still with us, but its home lies a few mile east, in the town of Coalville.

It was 1867-68 when the town of Echo shifted from a small farming community into a bustling railroad town. Of all the changes Utah would experience from that year on, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad would be one of the most significant because with the railroad came the nearly unlimited access to the world and it all started right here in Echo.

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Construction of the Railroad

Hundreds of workmen filled the Echo valley in order to construct the rails that extended down to the Ogden valley. Saloons, boarding houses and makeshift shacks were hastily constructed wherever there was a piece of flat ground to rest some boards down. Within a year, the rails were laid and the 1st train depot was constructed.

All but a few of these young, single, hard working men moved on to the next settlement where they continued their work. It was January 16th, 1869 when the 1st locomotive passed through town.

Building the Echo Depots

It is not known when the 1st Echo Depot was built but it was most likely constructed while the rails were being laid and with the help of some old photos appears to be a simple 1 room structure. The 2nd depot was erected in 1880 and served until 1913 when the 3rd and final passenger and freight depot was built. The grand and elegant design was 24 feet wide by 78 feet long and topped out at 27 feet in height. The total cost was $3,587.90.

The building also had living quarters for the acting agent and his family. A kitchen, pantry, living room and 2 bedrooms housed several newcomers until they built homes of their own nearby.

The Echo Depot served as a hub for most of north Summit County. It is said that people walked from considerable distances to the depot to get the most current news, send telegrams, and hear the latest sports scores.

B&B Gangs

Outside the depot were several train cars that housed the B and B gangs which were the Bridge and Building Department of the Union Pacific Railroad. Twenty men lived in several train cars while they worked repairing and maintaining the lines as well as the fixing and painting the depots and other buildings. The B and B Gang for the Echo station lived in the area for quite a while, most likely because of the difficult 70 mile, 2,500 foot elevation gain between Ogden and Wyoming.

Picture of the side of Echo Depot Originally, the benches that were built inside the Echo depot were long and made of wood. Later however, metal arm rests were installed to hinder the ability of transients to sleep on them. A quote by a man named Ben L. Rietman, a man known to have tramped a good deal himself' said, "A hobo works and wanders, a tramp dreams and wanders and a bum drinks and wanders." Apparently the Echo station had its share of all 3.

New People & Goods

The Echo station not only brought some of the most colorful and interesting people to Utah, it also brought goods that the locals grew accustomed to. Fresh bread and pastries, beef, lamb, pork and even ice cream made their way into the local groceries on a regular basis. Gone were the days of women slaving away all day cooking or preparing meat for the winter months.

One of the depot's employees, Mike Tsoukatos, a native of Greece designed an elaborate garden outside the depot. It was called 'The Park'. Tsoukatos used his own money to bring in beautiful plants and flowers that were the envy of all gardeners in the area. Sadly, when Tsoukatos retired, the garden was left neglected and eventually laid over with gravel to make a parking lot.

Saving the Echo Depot

As times changed and the use of the Echo Depot became obsolete. The Union Pacific coaled and watered its last steam engine in the spring of 1960 and made the decision to demolish the old dilapidated structure or auction it off. After hearing the news, then U.P Agent, David Kiddy was sitting in the famed Echo Kozy Café sipping on a cup of coffee with Harry Pennybaker, the president of the North Summit Senior Citizen's Organization.

Pennybaker was lamenting the fact that they too had to vacate the Quonset where activities were being held. Kiddy, had an epiphany and initiated the sale of the building to the senior organization. For a mere 5 dollars, that was later returned, Owen Durrant, an Echo native and manager of the Union Pacific Railroad for the Eastern Division essentially gave them the building. The problem however was moving it off the site.

With grant money obtained from the State Bicentennial Commission of 1975-76, Pennybaker and a lot of local hands moved the building to its present location just west of the Summit County Fairgrounds in Coalville. Extensive remodeling and a host of volunteerism helped bring the Echo Depot and the new North Summit County Senior Citizen's Center back to its rightful stature and place of importance in the community.

By Karri Dell Hayes
Located: 150 East Park Road