Pine River Depot, Pine River

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Built in 1895, the Pine River Depot played an important role in delivering goods, passengers, and mail to northern Minnesota for 90 years.  But, with the suspension of railroad service in 1985, the Depot closed its doors leaving an unknown future for the community landmark.  Faced with possible demolition for the expansion of Minnesota Trunk Highway 371, local citizens sprung into action forming the advocacy organization Heritage Group North.  Lobbied ardently by Heritage Group North to save the Depot, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, assisted by Cass County, agreed to relocate and restore the building to connect with the former rail bed now converted to the Paul Bunyan Trail.  The project was made possible by a $250,000 FHWA Transportation History Network Grant and MnDOT State Funds.

Transporting the historic Depot in one piece was a challenge due to its multiple additions and condition. A moving plan was prepared to coordinate the move with multiple partners and ensure the Depot’s safe passage.  After sitting vacant for over twenty years, the Depot’s condition required extensive repair informed by extensive research and a meticulous approach to preservation.

Moving the Depot provided an unexpected opportunity to restore the Depot’s connection to the City of Pine River. For many years, the public’s only view of the Depot was of its nondescript backside. Relocating and restoring the Depot allows it to once again greet Pine River’s public and is a case study in a collaborative project done right.

Owners: Minnesota Department of Transportation, Cass County Highway Department, City of Pine River, Heritage Group North; Architect: MacDonald & Mack Architects; Contractor: Gopher State Contractors; Advocate: Heritage Group North



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