Cheney Free Press -

Managing Editor 

Cheney depot in line to receive large state grant


October 4, 2018

Cheney's former Northern Pacific train depot as it appeared during the time it functioned as the gateway to the community.

The Cheney Depot Society received good news in late August from the Washington State Historical Society that their project to purchase and relocate the historic former Northern Pacific station was one of 36 projects begin recommended to the state Legislature for funding in the next biennium.

The letter from Heritage Capital Projects manager Lissa Kramer, which began with "Congratulations" informed the society that the Heritage Capital Projects Advisory Panel had approved a $366,600 grant from the state in the 2019-2021 funding cycle. The money is contingent upon the state Legislature approving the over $9.98 million request for the program.

The state's Historical Society listed and ranked the projects at its Aug. 15 meeting. According to the Society's website, these were ranked according to established program criteria and guidelines and "with the panelists expertise in the fields of history, museums and historic preservation.

The projects will be included in the society's request to the Legislature, who must agree to fund it at the same levels as in previous bienniums, although there is a bit of wiggle room for the Cheney depot should lawmakers elect to provide less.

"Actually, there are $1.2 million in project listed below us, so even if the program is funded at a lesser level, we are in pretty good shape to receive the grant," Depot Society board member Sue Beeman said.

If the Legislature passes, and Gov. Jay Inslee signs a full capital budget next year, projects that make the enacted budget will begin receiving grant contracts starting July 1, 2019 "or after whatever date the capital budget takes effect." Historical Capital Projects staff will begin working with recipients on contract specifics, which after being signed by both parties can begin being applied to project work that is eligible for reimbursement.

Cheney's depot was built in 1929, and served as one of the main entrances to students attending what would eventually be called Eastern Washington University. Arriving students would detrain at the station, and exit the facility to walk straight up College Avenue to Showalter Hall.

That practice is re-enacted each fall by the incoming freshmen class in the "Pass Through the Pillars" ritual at the opening of school.

The depot is deemed historic in that its Spanish-style Southwest architecture is unique for depots built by Northern Pacific in the Pacific Northwest. The society is working with the building's current owner, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, to purchase the structure, and has acquired land along First Street between Union and I streets to relocate it.

The society has been working on aspects of the building's relocation and fundraising since early 2014.

John McCallum can be reached at


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