Tehachapi Depot Railroad Museum

Aug 08 2012

History of the Tehachapi Depot

Information from the Website: railpictures.net and the Tehachapi News Article from the Winter Visitors Guide of 2005.

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 October 24, 2005 Union Pacific gave the keys to the depot to Tehachapi city officials.

Timeline of depot events

1876 - Original depot built; in fact, that was really a telegraph station.

1904 - Depot burns down and the current depot is built in its place. The new depot is a Southern Pacific Model No. 23, even though the depot burned to the ground in 2006, it was rebuilt on its original site.

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 (City of Tehachapi) 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 place. 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 Tehachapi Depot is officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

2004 - City of Tehachapi builds a new depot for use by Union Pacific Railroad, hoping to secure the old depot building. The city spends more than $150,000 on the new building.

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

2007 - Cleanup begins, new signage and railroad clock reminiscent of the times installed in front of the depot.

2007 - April/May a new roof is added and painting of the depot has begun.

Restoration and renovation

City Manager 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.

The Tehachapi News article states that the plans include rest rooms, a clock tower, interactive fountain and placement of some of the city's collection of historic train signals.

The City of Tehachapi would like to create a park that people will return to. They want to tie into downtown, something visitors and the community will go to and come back to. The deck will be preserved as a train-watching location, a clock reminiscent of the times and an interactive fountain that dances to music or to a preprogrammed pattern.  Note: Any donations to this loving restoration endeavor will be greatly appreciated by the "Friends of the Tehachapi Depot", a non-profit group that has long been involved in the depot's preservation. 

Work has begun, people are very excited. The estimated completion date will be June 2008.

Sad news -- At 3:08 AM on June 13, 2008, the fire department was called to the scene of the depot fully engulfed in flames. It was within a few weeks of the renovation being completed. We have been told that the City will rebuild, but it is too early for the details. All trains that are going by today are slowing down and blowing there horn out of respect for the depot.

Ground breaking of the new depot was on June 13, 2009.

Museum Hours

11 to 4 Thursday–Monday
Closed Tuesday & Wednesday