September 9, 2002
City is recipient of historic train depot donation
Gift by longtime resident Ray Burhen is moved to new location near McCormick Park
by Lisa Allen
Valley View Editor
DUVALL - Timing is everything, it is often claimed, and Ray Burhen, arriving in Duvall after finishing his wartime stint in Korea, couldn't have timed his return better. Had he come back a few months later, he says, there would have been nothing remaining of the historic Milwaukee Railroad Depot, which the owner was planning to demolish.
Burhen, though, recognized the significance of the building and made arrangements to purchase it.
Over the years he did some work on the building himself, then had a contractor completely renovate it. They even managed to save 80 percent of the original windows.
For decades it was used as a meeting place for the Duvall Historical Society. Then last year, after almost 50 years of ownership, Burhen donated it to the city. Last week it was moved to its new location just across the Snoqualmie Valley Trail from McCormick Park on what city officials call the "Weisenberger property."
Working with Glen Kuntz, mayor at the time, Burhen gave the depot to the city in December 2001. Kuntz said last week he pushed for the city to accept the donation agreement while he was still in office. The agreement requires the building be used as a public meeting place.
The former mayor said the depot was a very generous donation to the city.
"This is one of those artifacts that should be preserved," said Kuntz. "I couldn't let it go."
Burhen said he wanted to put the building into the public's hands so it could get more use.
"I wanted to save the depot and decided this was the way to do it," he said. "The city will keep it in perpetuity. If it is in the public domain the city will bear the cost and the public will get to use it. This is a changing era and these older buildings have significance. This was a simple, utilitarian building but it did the job and you don't see many of them anymore."
Burhen said that before the railroads, "there were canoes, then steamboats in the river, and then trails through the woods. There are lots of stories of the people who had to use those trails to get to the other Eastside towns or to Seattle. Some of those trails were so steep that if farmers took animals to town, they would get the cattle running and hold onto their tails to help get up the hill."
Reminiscing last week as the house moving crew was jacking up the building in preparation for the move, he said, "I got back from Korea in 1954 and learned the depot was still there. But then I found out the Milwaukee Railroad had sold it to the station agent in North Bend."
That was when the building almost met its demise.
"The station agent wanted to move it up to North Bend and use it for a house, but in those days Duvall was like 'the end of the earth' and movers didn't want to come out here," said Burhen. "So the agent decided to tear it down, but discovered that the railroad had built it pretty sturdy. It was all clear fir, the rafters and joists were excellent and the builders had used twice as many nails as they needed."
The job of wrecking it turned out to be so tough, Burhen said, that the agent was "happy to see me come along. We agreed on a price on what the value of the lumber was and in the fall of 1954, I bought it."
Burhen, however, did have to move the building across the tracks because the property it sat on was still owned by the railroad, but he was able to find a house mover in Factoria who agreed to come out and move it the short distance.
"We made a deal that he would be paid when the job was done," Burhen said, "But when he got the timbers under it, he wanted some money. So, being kind of stuck, I paid him part of it, then hoped he wouldn't leave the building in the middle of the tracks and demand more money to get it off. Then I would have really been in trouble."
The depot opened to travelers on January 8, 1912 by the Milwaukee Railroad and served the travel and shipping needs of Duvall for 24 years. For immigrants such as Ralph Taylor, who arrived in Duvall as a young boy with his family from Poole, England during those early days, the depot was probably the first building in town that they saw.
As Burhen recounted the Taylor story, which was written up in Ralph Taylor's memoir Duvall Immigrant, "The family came from a town with paved roads and sidewalks to muddy streets in a logging town on a rainy, damp December day."
Taylor went on to become mayor of Duvall and a local historian and artist. Some of his paintings are displayed in the Rose Room of the Duvall Library.
In those early days of steam locomotives, immigrants took the train from Cedar Falls northbound to Duvall. There was also a station at Novelty, where local farmers could take the train to Duvall and back. Students who attended school in Monroe also got there on the train.
The station closed to passenger use in 1936, and had been used through the 1940s for sleeping quarters for section hands working on the railroad between Monroe and Carnation.
Redmond Renovation, a local house moving company, offered the city the low bid on moving the depot.
The company was able to move it away from its foundation, but because of traction problems, Blake Marty of Sno-Valley Tree and Timber had to use his trackhoe to move the depot the rest of the way.
Duvall engineering aide Alana McCoy said the depot will be part of the Old Town Riverfront Plan, which will run from the Woodinville-Duvall Bridge to Valley Street.
Burhen said the building will be placed at the entrance to the park "so people can see it and relate to the past era, and think about the trials and tribulations of past times."