A landmark that welcomed rail travelers to Salt Lake City for decades came down Monday to make room for a renovated new sign.
Crews used a massive crane to bring the Rio Grande Depot’s neon sign and its scaffolding in one unit to the street, at 300 South and Rio Grande Drive.
Officials at the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts — whose offices are housed in the state-owned depot — announced in July that the sign would be replaced by a double-sided one to be erected in October. The new sign will face both east and west, welcoming visitors arriving from Interstate 15 and the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub.
The old sign had suffered from maintenance issues for years, officials said. Spare parts were no longer available at a reasonable price, and the scaffolding was so dilapidated that contractors refused to use the catwalks to access it.
The Denver and Rio Grande Western Depot was built in 1910 to compete with the Union Pacific Depot three blocks north (where it’s now part of The Gateway shopping complex). The first sign was built in 1940 and replaced in the 1950s. The sign originally included the name of the Western Pacific Railroad underneath the Rio Grande name, but that part of the sign was removed in the 1980s, when the depot became an Amtrak stop.
The depot now houses state offices, the Rio Gallery, and the Rio Grande Cafe, a Mexican restaurant operating where the station’s diner once thrived.