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Depot Days Fun-Raiser Keeps South Coast Railroad Museum on Right Track

Benefit for Goleta historical landmark includes plenty of ride angles for visitors of all ages

Noel Langle, left, helps Evita Ferrone and her dad, Mike, operate the South Coast Railroad Museum’s handcar during the Goleta museum’s 34th Depot Days on Sunday. Click to view larger
Noel Langle, left, helps Evita Ferrone and her dad, Mike, operate the South Coast Railroad Museum’s handcar during the Goleta museum’s 34th Depot Days on Sunday. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Children and parents were all aboard for a family-friendly fundraising event that supports the South Coast Railroad Museum in Goleta.

Volunteers and staff of the nonprofit museum kicked off the 34th Depot Days celebration with intricate, operating model train railroad displays, miniature train rides, antique toy trains and a silent auction.

More than 200 locals stopped by during the two-day event, with some attendees dressed in conductor hats, classic overalls and blowing wooden train whistles. The celebration was hosted on the museum grounds to commemorate the preservation of the Goleta Depot at 300 N. Los Carneros Road.

“The event is for enjoyment and also to raise money to support the museum,” South Coast Railroad Museum board president Bruce Morden said.

“We love to have people come over and experience the museum, but today is special because we are celebrating the depot itself.”

Depot Days is an annual event that celebrates the preservation of the railroad station building, a historical landmark that was moved in 1981 to save it from demolition.

For Rabobank employee Tiffany Balow, it was important to help preserve the rich local historical heritage.

“The museum has a lot history and architecture,” said Balow, who was also an event volunteer. “It is important to support it. Plus, it’s fun watching the children explore the site. We don’t have a lot of events like this.”

The South Coast Railroad Museum’s annual Depot Days celebration is a benefit for the museum and the historic Goleta Depot. Click to view larger
The South Coast Railroad Museum’s annual Depot Days celebration is a benefit for the museum and the historic Goleta Depot. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Passengers were all smiles as they rode the Goleta Short Line, the miniature train that travels along multiple routes around the property.

Children 48 inches or taller had the opportunity to pump a lever that pushed riders along on the museum’s people-powered handcar, which was developed during the second half of the 19th century.

Youngsters could ride an old rail inspection car, also known as “speeder,” that was formerly used on the Ventura County Railway. Children played with wooden toy trains and participated in a railroad scavenger hunt.

Members of the South Coast Society of Model Engineers and the Gold Coast Garden Railway Society displayed antique toy trains. On Sunday, visitors had the opportunity to view the depot’s upstairs living quarters, where the train station families and agents for the Southern Pacific Railroad once lived.

The depot was built in 1901 by the Southern Pacific Railroad and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“There weren’t a lot of automobiles around when the depot was first built,” Morden said. “It was the only way to travel.”

The museum is open from 1 to 4p.m. Friday through Sunday, and is closed Monday through Thursday. Free train rides are offered from 2 to 3:45 p.m. every Friday.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Train engineer Max Annalt takes some Depot Days visitors on a short run around the South Coast Railroad Museum on Sunday. Click to view larger
Train engineer Max Annalt takes some Depot Days visitors on a short run around the South Coast Railroad Museum on Sunday. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

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