Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dunsmuir Railroad Depot

Most visitors and tourists coming to Dunsmuir these days probably do not realize the significance of the railroad to the local economy since its arrival here in 1887. Dunsmuir was a major rail center and employer with personnel working in the offices, shops, yards, division stores and offices. 

The Central Pacific Railroad, soon to become Southern Pacific, arrived at campsites called Nutglade, then Cedar Flat, and then became a town called Pusher before being re-named Dunsmuir in honor of Alexander Dunsmuir. The Depot building was simply an old boxcar.  S.P. built a more permanent Depot in the 1880’s which survived into the mid 1970’s. Sadly, the original wooden Southern Pacific Depot was demolished in 1973. Today, all that remains are the turntable, the CTC Annex and the vault. 

The Original Wooden Dunsmuir Depot
Photo Credit: From the Michael Nore Collection

The old depot served as the ticket and baggage office plus headquarters for the Superintendent of the Shasta Division. The Chief Dispatcher knew the trains and engine crews; he was the nerve center for train movement.

In late 1941, fifteen dispatchers were busy working at the Dunsmuir Depot, which was divided into five districts, Gerber to Redding and Modoc line, Redding to Dunsmuir, Dunsmuir to Black Butte, and Black Butte to Ashland, Black Butte to Klamath Falls and Klamath Falls to Crescent Lake. The train dispatcher’s office was closed in 1965.

Other offices and service facilities for the steam locomotives included offices of the roadmaster, bridge and building operations, water and fuel, signal department, master mechanic and master car repairer, foreman of the roundhouse, and Special Agents (railroad police).

Dunsmuir Depot, Present Day
Photo Credit: Carol Skalko

Today, the two buildings from the 1950’s, which once housed the crew quarters and dispatch office, now contain this AMTRAK Depot, the Dunsmuir RR Depot Historical Society’s Railroad Display Room, as well as the Dunsmuir Museum.

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