By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board’s approval of Business 2 zoning for the Soo Park parcel has brought the Colfax Railroad Museum one step closer to making the miniature train ride a reality.
The parcel was not zoned prior to this. The zoning board of appeals, following a public hearing, has recommended B2 zoning, and the zoning must be approved by the village board, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at the Colfax Village Board’s September 10 meeting.
The parcel was donated to the village for a park one hundred years ago, but somehow, the property was never properly deeded to the village until recently.
3M Company will be providing 30 volunteers on September 26 to lay the track for the miniature train ride, said Herb Sakalaucks Jr., curator of the Colfax Railroad Museum.
The museum applied for two grants, one for the museum’s library of train materials and one to finish the gray wooden depot on Main Street.
The first grant request was not funded, even though the application scored high enough to qualify, Sakalaucks said.
Only so many requests can be granted in the state, but a new grant program is launching to split the money between large museums and small museums, he said.
The museum also currently has a grant application pending with Wells-Fargo to finish the gray wooden depot on Main Street as an events center, to develop a parking area by the wooden depot, to build an L-shaped addition to the garage for an engine house and to finish that portion of Park Drive to link the street with the museum property.
Sakalaucks said he is hoping to hear soon on the Wells-Fargo grant application.
Cardinal Glass also has donated some computers to the museum, he noted.
The contractor for site preparation work for the miniature train ride has been selected, and all that remains is to finish the closing paperwork for the museum’s purchase of the Soo Park site, Sakalaucks said.
The purchase agreement has already been signed, Niggemann said.
Volunteers from Cardinal Glass worked on the wooden depot a few weeks ago, scraping paint off the exterior of the building and sanding the surface, Sakalaucks noted.
The siding of the wooden depot is in remarkably good shape, he said.
The wooden depot now located on Main Street was built in 1898 after the village’s first depot burned down in late August of that year.
When the stone depot was built about 15 years later, the wooden depot was moved to its present location.
The fire that destroyed the original depot also almost burned down the rest of the village of Colfax.
The near-miss on losing the town inspired village officials to install water lines on Main Street for a fire suppression system in November of 1898.