Floods derail at least one Grand Junction business

Dave Fedler, owner of Dave’s Depot in the Amtrak station, counts the money from his register as he gets ready to close on Monday. Fedler’s business stands to be severely impacted by the rerouting of Amtrak’s California Zephyr due to damage to the train tracks from flooding on the Front Range. For the next few days, Amtrak will be busing passengers over the mountains between Grand Junction and Denver. Fedler said on Monday he sold 20 drinks and a set of earbuds the entire day; normally he gets a lot more business from passengers and train personnel.

One sentence into a conversation with his customers, a couple from Switzerland, Dave Fedler of Dave’s Depot in the Grand Junction Amtrak station switched easily from English to German.

Werner and Lotti Stoeckli conversed in German and inquired whether Fedler had some railroad-related postcards at his gift shop.

The couple, touring the western United States by train, had just crossed the Continental Divide traveling west and saw Colorado’s world-famous ski resorts from the window—of a bus.

The flooding that displaced thousands of people on the Front Range also damaged the rail connection with Grand Junction.

It was in Grand Junction that they got back on the train after leaving the driving to the westbound bus from Chicago and headed to San Francisco by rail.

“We wish you well,” Werner said to Fedler as he and his wife prepared to leave for the next leg of their trip.

Fedler learned the language when he was stationed in Germany in the service and it’s a handy business tool, but its value could drop once Amtrak reroutes its trains to Salt Lake City and around the flood-damaged Colorado route.

For now, Grand Junction is the last rail stop for the eastbound California Zephyr. Passengers get off the train and board buses to continue on from Grand Junction. Westbound travelers take buses on Interstate 70 to Grand Junction, where they board Amtrak trains.

That’s bad enough, Fedler said, because he depends on word of mouth from the train crews to direct passengers his way during stopovers in the terminal.

Once Amtrak loops around Colorado, the crews he counts on and the passengers he works to please won’t get to the depot.

The Union Pacific Railroad line about 30 miles west of Denver near Crescent was closed last week, Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said.

“Traffic that would use that line through Moffat Tunnel is being detoured through Cheyenne. As soon as the water drops, crews will begin making repairs,” Davis said in an email. “No time yet when the line will reopen.”

Amtrak will ferry passengers between Denver and Grand Junction until the railroad reopens, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said, noting that stops such as those at Granby and Winter Park won’t resume until rail service does.

Passengers whose plans were disrupted should talk to a live agent at 1-800-USA-Rail, Magliari said.

Only trains that normally use the Denver-Grand Junction route via Moffat Tunnel will be affected and those customers should expect a 72-hour delay for the reroute through Cheyenne, Davis said.

That will still leave Fedler hanging.

He’s been around Colorado long enough to expect disruptions of one sort or another would affect his business, which he purchased roughly a year ago from the previous owner. At the end of the day Monday, Fedler tallied his earnings for the day: $105 from selling 20 drinks and a pair of earbuds.

“I saved up enough for maybe a bump,” he said, “but not for anything like this.”


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