The engine house, originally constructed of old growth redwood, holds a pivotal place in the history of California Western’s steam locomotives. Following a devastating fire in the early 1900s, the engine house was rebuilt to its current configuration, designed to store and service the railroad’s substantial fleet of steam locomotives. Moreover, it served as a hub for heavy backshop work and featured a machine shop in the north-west corner, showcasing the ingenuity and precision of the era.
Over the years, the engine house adapted to the changing demands of the railroad industry, accommodating the advent of Baldwin diesel locomotives. Modifications included extending two outer tracks through the north wall, transforming the building into a run-through facility. Substantial infrastructure enhancements, such as the addition of a sand hopper and fueling plumbing, were made to cater to the servicing needs of the diesel fleet, further highlighting its historical significance.
Sadly, as the 20th century progressed, the engine house fell into disrepair due to deferred maintenance. Following the 2003 bankruptcy and purchase, we recognized the importance of revitalizing this cherished structure. Embracing a “replace in kind” philosophy, the rehabilitation process commenced, with detailed attention paid to maintaining the building’s authenticity from the mid-20th century.
The rehabilitation efforts were extensive, involving the restoration of blown-out windows, replacement of the mostly gone roof, and the end doors that had not been operable in over three decades. Our painstaking approach have yielded a faithful representation of the engine house, transporting visitors back to a pivotal era in the railroad industry’s history.
What sets our engine house apart is its accessibility to the public. By opening its doors to visitors, we have successfully transformed it into a living museum, where the echoes of the past resonate through periodic operation of historically significant railroad equipment and scheduled excursion train services.
By restoring the building to its original purpose and making it accessible to the public, we have breathed new life into a pivotal piece of railroad history.