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Whatever Happened to…the Bond Coach School?

On June 16, 1934, the Dotsero Cutoff was dedicated, shortening the rail distance between Denver and Salt Lake City by 173 miles, creating a direct route from Chicago to Denver to San Francisco.  The connection/switch where the Denver & Salt Lake left to join the Denver & Rio Grande Western was at Orestod (Dotsero spelled backwards), 38 miles from Dotsero, and this is where the D&RGW established its Bond station.

Prospector, 3rd qtr. 2009 p.8, reprinted from Railway Age, Mar. 10, 1934.

Over 3,000 people, including the governors of Colorado and Utah,  attended the dedication at Bond, brought to the location by five special trains.  The Rio Grande served a noon barbecue, there were speeches and bands, and an east—west route through the Rockies was a reality.

Dedication at Bond on June 16, 1934.

With a depot at Bond, there arrived railroad workers from Denver and Grand Junction who worked the routes.  A hotel, round house, coal and water facilities, and employee housing were built.  What was needed by 1935 in the new community, however, was a school for employees’ children.  “Mrs. James (Alma) Gray was one of the members of the committee formed to get a building for a school.  The Rio Grande moved in one of the company’s wooden coaches, removed the wheels, and set it on a foundation.  Partitions were put in and other alterations made in order to make it as serviceable as possible.”  [Eagle Valley Enterprise, Feb. 4, 1965 p.8]

Old Coach School, Bond, Colorado, used 1935 to Oct. 23, 1938.

The first teacher in the new town was Mrs. Frank (Leila) Ault.  The Coach Schoolhouse was used until Oct. 23, 1938, when the railroad donated a building that was leased to School District 18 for $1 per year.  After 1938, the old coach became a home for Natividad “Poncho” Avilla.

Nine school children of the Old Coach School, Bond, Colorado, 1938, standing in front of the school.

Odis Simpson bought the old coach in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s with the understanding that Mr. Avilla could make it his home  as long as he lived.  When Mr. Avilla moved to Pueblo and subsequently died, the coach was deemed to be no longer habitable and was scheduled for destruction. “The evening of January 24, 1965, the old coach disappeared in a blaze of glory after a Singspiration song service held by the young people of the McCoy Community church.  Young and old gathered for the big bonfire, and an evening of sleighing in the light shed by the burning coach.  And the old coach-schoolhouse is just another memory.”  [Eagle Valley Enterprise, Feb. 4, 1965, p.8] So, if you’re driving through Bond today, you can stop looking for the coach schoolhouse, but it’s an interesting sidelight in the heyday of that railroad town.

Comments

Love this! How fascinating. :)

Would love to have a photo of the celebratory burning. Jaci Spuhler Local History, Archives Eagle Public Library, EVLD PO Box 240, 600 Broadway Eagle, CO 81631 970 328-8800 www.evld.org "Archives: hoarding made legitimate."

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