Old 11-03-2005, 06:14 PM   #1
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Default Tehachapi Depot Now City-Owned

Next time you visit Walong, stop by the Depot:

Depot changes hands at last

A typical cargo train runs at approximately 55 miles per hour. The Union Pacific Corporation moves much, much slower.

For the past 32 years, citizens of Tehachapi, California have been concerned with the preservation of the railroad depot building at the corner of Green Street and Tehachapi Boulevard. Finally, on Oct24, Union Pacific gave the keys to the depot to Tehachapi city officials. A celebration and key ceremony was held at the depot. Approximately 300 people attended.

Gary Thornton, a local citizen, was there to celebrate. “It’s great — I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Now we’re on our way toward restoration,” he said.

While the crowd assembled, the “For Goodness Sakes” singers performed. Artist Dave Rheinhart autographed free commemorative mugs and paintings for attendees. Rheinhart, inspired by the old building, painted the depot as is and donated his artwork to the city.

A little after 14:00 the cermony began. Mayor Mariana Teel welcomed the crowd and introduced the city staff. She then read a history of the old depot.

David James, city community development director, spoke next. “Tehachapi is all about transportation,” James said. He spoke about the possibilities for funding of the depot renovation.

The ceremony concluded with the official passing of the key from Union Pacific manager Ron Petitt, a Tehachapi citizen, to Mayor Teel. A cake bearing a picture of the depot and punch were then served.

Historical Timeline

A great many people have been waiting for this day. The Heritage League, the Friends of the Tehachapi Depot, the Tehachapi Loop Railroad Club and the city of Tehachapi have all expended efforts toward acquiring the depot. “A lot of people had their hands in this, getting it done... it was truly a community effort,” said City Manager Jason Caudle.

Here is a timeline of depot events:

1876 — Original depot built.

1904 — Depot burns down and the current depot is built in its place. (The new depot is a model number 23, the only one in existence and still on its original site today.)

1973 — The Heritage League is formed for the purpose of acquiring the depot and creating a railroad museum. Efforts to gain control of the depot from the Southern Pacific Railroad Company fail.

1997— Union Pacific Corporation buys out the Southern Pacific Railroad Company.

1997 — David James receives a grant for $250,000 to restore the depot to its original condition.

1997 — A flurry of activity by then mayor John Rombouts and Tehachapi citizens takes places. Groups write letters and phone the Union Pacific Corporation.

1997 — Union Pacific officials visit Tehachapi and are given a guided tour, but they do not have the authority to make any changes regarding the depot. Frustrated citizens are unable to locate the officials within Union Pacific who have the authority required to turn the depot over to the city of Tehachapi.

1999 — The depot is officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

2004 — The city of Tehachapi builds a new depot for the use of the railroad, hoping to secure the old depot building. The city spends more than $150,000 on the new building.

2005 — Finally, the Union Pacific Corporation agrees to lease the original depot to the city of Tehachapi and moves its own operations to the new depot.

Restoration and renovation

Caudle said that, in general, plans for the depot include a railroad museum. The exterior design is done; the landscaping around the building will feature railroad memorabilia from the collection once owned by Tehachapi citizen William Stokoe.

As for the building itself, a collaboration is underway. The city has requested input from various sources, including the Friends of the Tehachapi Depot.

Doug Pickard, president of the Friends of the Tehachapi Depot, said that a recommendation is underway. “Practically, it needs a new roof,” Pickard said. “The whole city would welcome a visible improvement as soon as possible.”

Del Troy, first vice president and recording secretary pro tem of the Tehachapi Heritage League and member of the Friends of the Depot, would like to see community involvement. “I’d like to see many people join the Friends of the Depot and get involved,” Troy said.

James spoke at the ceremony and broke some bad news to the crowd: the original grant of $250,000 has now expired. But there is good news, also. “We feel very confident that we can go back out and get... even more revenue to apply to the depot,” he said.


The city has reached a milestone: possession of the depot. While the future is full of restoration work, citizens are thrilled to enjoy the achievement at hand.

Shirley Fuller, a local citizen and business owner, made sure to attend the ceremony. “I’m here because of the excitement... the start of re-doing this wonderful building... for the celebration,” she said.

Pickard summed up the feeling of the day well. “It finally happened,” he said. - Deanna Call, The Tehachapi News
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Old 11-03-2005, 08:18 PM   #2
bnsf sammy
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Wow thats great! I can't wait to see it finally restored. Every year when I go to Tehachapi, I always take a picture of the depot, and it has always been behind fences. In the future it won't!
Click Here to view my photos at RailPictures.Net!
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