I know this isn't a train...but obviously depots were an important aspect of trains :) I have the pleasure of seeing our Depot everyday at work. They are also working on getting a steam train from Los Angeles to put on display on one of the unused tracks...I can't remember its number. They've recently refurbished it and it has quite an aura around it. Clint Eastwood filmed the movie "The Changeling" here with Angelina Jolie. The architecture and brickwork is very lovely....a few more pics can be seen in my albums...sorry they are dark, it was raining today!
A Brief History of the Santa Fe Depot
Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway built San Bernardino’s first permanent train depot in 1886 to meet the growing number of rail passengers and to house its Los Angeles Division administrative and freight offices. This two-and-a-half-story wooden structure and other railway property were completely destroyed by a fire that started at 11 p.m. on November 16, 1916. The building burned in only an hour and 20 minutes. Heat melted the huge iron doors of the depot’s supposedly fire-proof vault, and 30 years of railway records went up in flames.
Shortly thereafter, city leaders asked the railway to design and build an impressive new depot that would befit the city image as the “gateway to southern California.” The resulting $800,000 depot, designed by company architect W.A. Mohr, was the largest west of the Mississippi. Upon its opening on July 15, 1918, the San Bernardino Daily Sun proclaimed “ Santa Fe’s station to be the finest in the west,” and “a credit to San Bernardino for showing the importance of the Gate City as a transportation center.”
The new depot featured a Mission Revival style with Moorish influences. Four domed towers were built to anchor the center lobby area with its polished tile walls and floors. The eastern wing of the depot included dining areas. The depot’s western wing was designed for baggage handling and housed the superintendent’s office, mail room, telegraph office and Western Union office. Division headquarters operated from the second floor and tower floor. The station included modern amenities like a tube system, by which telegrams could be distributed among the many offices (without the need for a messenger boy) and a high-tech telephone system for dispatching trains. With hollow clay blocks within its walls, a red tile roof and stucco exterior, the new depot was fashioned to withstand fire. High beams, coffered ceilings and decorative column capitals all were handcrafted for the project. A 330-foot arcade extended between the depot and the tracks.
Just a few years after its 1918 reopening, the depot expanded its eastern wing with a Harvey House Restaurant and living quarters above, which opened in 1921. From the 1880s to 1930s, Harvey Houses flourished along the ATSF railway lines. The waitresses, known as Harvey Girls, wore neatly pressed and heavily starched black uniforms with crisp, white cuffs, white bibbed aprons and starched white caps. The Harvey Girls served hot meals, bakery goods and good, strong coffee to weary travelers and to the San Bernardino community. The waitresses were required to sign a contract that stated they would work at least a year, not marry and not date. They were paid competitive wages starting at $17.50 per month, which included room, board and clean uniforms. The depot was a frequent community gathering place for Sunday dinners in the Harvey House formal dining room, with the San Bernardino Daily Sun reporting that the restaurant boasted serving between 1,000 and 1,200 people between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on July 4, 1921. The restaurant closed in the 1950s.
As the railroad industry expanded and grew in importance, so did its importance to San Bernardino. From the 1920s to the 1950s, between 60 percent and 85 percent of the city’s population was employed by or dependent upon Santa Fe. This time reflected the nation’s heyday of passenger train travel, before the dominance of the automobile and popularity of air travel. A June 12, 1938 Santa Fe timetable lists 13 eastbound and 13 westbound trains per day departing from the depot approximately every two hours. The trains bore names of the southwest -- El Capitan, the Navajo, the Scout, the Grand Canyon Limited, the Chief and the limousine of sleeping cars favored by Hollywood stars, the Super Chief. During World War II, there were also “troop trains,” and travelers frequently would see the depot filled to standing room only with soldiers inside the depot. Restaurants, bars, boarding houses, small businesses and hotels all thrived in the area, such as the Cave Cafe, Pirate’s Den, Eichenberg’s Cafe, the St. Augustine Hotel, the Maryland Hotel and the Travelers Hotel.