SANDPOINT, IDAHO—On May 30, 2015, Sandpoint Mayor Carrie Logan and city leaders were joined by State Senator Shawn Keough and representatives from the offices of Senator Mike Crapo, Congressman Raúl Labrador and Amtrak to dedicate the rehabilitated 1916 Northern Pacific Railway depot. Sandpoint is the sole Amtrak station in Idaho.
The red brick, Gothic Revival style depot reopened to passengers in spring 2015 following a complete renovation of the exterior and the passenger waiting room. Construction included repointing of the brickwork; reinforcement of the walls; installation of a new roof; and renovation of interior spaces to bring them into accordance with ADA guidelines.
Passengers now use the former ladies retiring room, which is outfitted with glazed white tile wainscot and a terrazzo floor that is durable yet elegant. Original wood benches have been refurbished to serve the next generation of travelers. There is also an ADA compliant restroom. A new exterior entrance provides access from a covered outdoor waiting area, while lighting along the eaves creates a welcoming glow in the evening. Craftsmen also installed a brick walkway around the building. The five month rehabilitation project was overseen by Sandpoint firm Idagon Design Build.
Preservation Idaho, a non-profit with a mission to preserve the state’s historic places through collaboration, education and advocacy, has recognized the rehabilitation project for Excellence in Historic Preservation. The honor was bestowed during the 38th annual Orchids and Onions Awards ceremony, which fittingly took place in Sandpoint—home to two other prize winning projects.
Following the ceremony and luncheon, the state-wide preservation advocates and honorees traveled to the depot for tours of the building and the official ribbon cutting. Afterwards, attendees had the opportunity to use the depot as the starting point for a self-guided walking tour of Sandpoint.
In the early 2000s, the depot’s future was called into question as planning progressed for a reroute of U.S. Highway 95 that would bring it within 40 feet of the depot. As part of mitigation efforts related to construction, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) paid station owner BNSF approximately $922,000 to stabilize the depot or design and erect a replacement facility.
The Sandpoint City Council, Historic Preservation Commission and local residents advocated for keeping the station at its present location near downtown, and in fall 2011, the city, Amtrak and BNSF agreed to remain at the site. In the meantime, the waiting room was temporarily closed to passengers in June 2009 after acoustic tiles fell from the ceiling due to a leaky roof. BNSF subsequently transferred the ITD money to Amtrak to fund the needed rehabilitation work.
In Fiscal Year 2014, more than 8,400 passengers began or ended their journey at the Sandpoint station, which is served twice a day by the Empire Builder (Chicago-Seattle/Portland).