HISTORY: Truckee Train Depot not the original, but iconic
Special to the Sierra Sun
The Truckee Depot is an iconic structure in downtown Truckee. It was placed on the California List of Historic Landmarks in 1976.
But few know of its long history. Nor that it is not the first train station in Truckee.
The first passenger depot was built shortly after the completion of the Transcontinental railroad in 1869 just west of the present depot, but on the south side of the tracks. The passenger depot and ticket office were in the J. F. Moody’s (originally William Campbell) Truckee Hotel which was just east of the present depot.
This arrangement between private businesses and the Southern Pacific Railroad was quite common.
The Truckee Hotel, with the passenger depot, burned down in the early spring of 1900. During the summer of 1900 the present structure was built.
The design is Southern Pacific’s standard One Story Combination Depot No. 23. The structure has not been modified except for a minor change in the roof when the railroad ceased using the semaphore signal system. It is still the original 25 feet wide by 146 feet long. The only change is that the original color of the outside was changed to a light-green with white trim in the late 1960s.
The Truckee Depot housed the district railmaster’s office and functioned as a ticket office until the beginning of the Amtrak era in the 1970s. Until the early 1940s, the depot also served as the ticket office for the Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company.
In 1985, the station was sold to Nevada County and remodeled into the present-day Transportation Center for Amtrak, Greyhound, Tahoe Area
Regional Transport and Truckee Public buses. The outside colors were returned to the original yellow with green trim. However, the interior has been radically redesigned. Walls were moved or removed to accommodate the Visitor Information and Chamber of Commerce room, a local history museum, a small waiting room containing an historic safe, restrooms, and retail areas.
Today, tickets and train information are not available, but the waiting area is available during the day. Two Amtrak trains stop daily at Truckee (Train No. 5, west bound at 9:30 a.m. and Train No. 6, east bound at 2:30 p.m.).
Ed Czerwinski is a member of the Truckee Donner Railroad Society and resides in Tahoe Donner.
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