Journal Record Staff Reporter
Renovation of the historic Santa Fe Depot in Guthrie early
next year will mark the beginning of two significant economic
developments in central Oklahoma.
First project for which the depot is the linchpin is the
Central Oklahoma Development Effort, commonly called CODE-1,
which unites seven communities in a regional tourism and economic
An excursion train, pulled by a restored steam locomotive, is
expected to make its first run as part of CODE-1 by the spring.
The depot needs to be ready for that event.
The other major project for which the depot will be the
initial activity will be Guthrie's 10-year development plan,
which was completed in June.
While enhancement of the tourism industry in Guthrie is one of
the major portions of that plan, it also calls for improving
education, enhancing retail and industry activities in Guthrie
and making further strides in economic development.
The development plan and CODE-1 are not necessarily connected,
but one has led to the other. The only questions are which came
first and which will get under way first.
"We got started on the 10-year plan about a year ago after
residents came to us and said they were interested in CODE-1 and
wanted to do more," said Rene Spineto, president and chief
executive officer of Guthrie Chamber of Commerce. "This plan is a
real grassroots effort. After we got started, all sorts of
community groups came to us with projects and ideas they wanted
done and suggested they be included in our plan.
"What we did was refer them to one of the 10 committees and
ask them to work with the committee so we could have a better
"This plan was done with about 3,000 volunteer labor hours
involving at least 250 people. It's a real grassroots effort."
CODE-1, though, is an extension of an effort begun by the
Logan County Economic Development Council in late 1992 when it
applied for a federal transportation enhancement grant for a
rolling theme park.
Central to that was to be the depot renovation and excursion
train into a transportation-related theme park, at that time
called the nation's first rolling theme park. Plans escalated
until now Kingfisher, Enid, El Reno, Yukon, Edmond and Oklahoma
City have joined the regional effort to attract tourism and
While the excursion train can run without renovation of the
depot, it would be nice to have the work done before the train
rides start, said Marilyn Branch, director of the Logan County
Economic Development Council.
Along with renovation of the depot, the city's Tannery
District, a grouping of historic buildings which have been tied
up in bankruptcy for several years, also is expected to start
early next year.
"We'll get a release on those buildings early next month
(September) so individuals can buy them and put in individual
businesses," Branch said.
Renovation of the Tannery District is not tied to CODE-1, but
that effort provided impetus for it, Branch said.
"People are optimistic; they see how important tourism is and
they are willing to be a part of it," she said. "This renovation
is more than just the CODE-1 effort."
When the depot and tannery are renovated, Guthrie will have
three theaters featuring live entertainment, five bed and
breakfast inns with at least two other buildings being considered
for remodeling into inns, five museums, art galleries, artists'
studios and at least 30 apartments in the downtown district. …