The Railroad Depot Museum is growing
Friends of the Tehachapi Depot
March 4, 2023
Exciting things are in the works at the Railroad Depot Museum. We have two major projects underway that will transform our campus and grow our museum.
The first is our Caboose Project. For many years a historic 1941 Southern Pacific caboose has sat between the Tehachapi Depot Railroad Museum and Kohnen's Country Bakery. Being privately owned, it had no connection to the museum. Incorporating this piece of railroad history into the museum itself was a long-term objective.
We plan to move it onto the museum's property within the year. It will be "slotted" into the existing rear viewing deck, forming an integral addition to the museum, and extended out to the area occupied by the current playground. The playground will be eliminated, paved over, and the slide relocated off the campus. An extension of the deck will be added along side the back of the caboose to provide easy visitor access without needing to climb steps. The caboose will sit on a section of track and ballast, both of which will be donated by Union Pacific. Then the big event arrives: when the site is ready to receive the caboose, a crane will lift the 20 ton unit from its present location and precisely sit it on the awaiting track.
Next up: the deck will be modified and extended. Finally, further work including decorative fencing and lighting will transform the area into an inviting visitor attraction. The next phase of the project is a multi-year task to fully restore the caboose to its original look and configuration when it was operated by Southern Pacific Railroad. It will start with a much-needed repairing and repainting of the exterior parts. The interior will be completely refinished, replacing missing fixtures and appliances.
In concert with the caboose project, we will be adding a 1,000-square-foot building to provide a storage area for our growing collection of railroad artifacts as well as a curator's office area. The new building will be an annex to the existing maintenance/restroom building on an unused, vacant parcel of land. The exterior will match the appearance of the museum.
Why do we need an annex? Currently we are storing those artifacts not on display haphazardly in our basement as well as at an off-site storage facility. We are also continually receiving donated items and running out of adequate storage. The Annex will provide a large, safe and environmentally-controlled area to house these possessions. The additional office area will allow our curators ample space to prepare and catalog all our property. This building will gain us a professionally–managed storage and cataloging capability. Plans are currently being drawn, and construction of the building will start following the relocation of the caboose.
This is our far-reaching objective. Accomplishing these goals, however, requires considerable financing; architectural and construction services are expensive. The Museum is currently seeking grants and will be embarking on a major fundraising drive. There is a long way to go, and if you wish to help, simply visit our website at http://www.tehachapidepot.com, click on the donate button and contribute. Large or small, all donations will go to these vital projects. We are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.