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Rail Museum Celebrates 33rd Depot Day Sept. 27

Children operate the South Coast Railroad Museum’s handcar. Click to view larger
Children operate the South Coast Railroad Museum’s handcar. (South Coast Railroad Museum photo)

The 33rd annual Depot Day will be held Sunday, Sept. 27 from 11 a.m, to 4 p.m., at the South Coast Railroad Museum, located at the historic Goleta Depot, 300 North Los Carneros Road. 

Depot Day is the day set aside each year for celebrating the preservation of one of the area's leading historical landmarks — the Southern Pacific railroad station building, which was moved Nov. 18–19, 1981, to save it from demolition.

The depot was built in 1901 by the Southern Pacific Railroad, during the completion of the Coast Line route connecting the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Goleta Depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places — the official U.S. listing of buildings, sites and other properties declared worthy of preservation.

The center attraction of Depot Day 2015 will be a day-long silent auction, featuring more than 100 valuable items, including dinners and brunches at fine restaurants, stays at hotels from San Diego to Paso Robles, tickets to regional performing-arts productions and Disneyland, wine tours and a wide assortment of regional wines, goods, services, collectibles and gifts for all ages.

An auction list is updated regularly at

Another Depot Day highlight will be four different rides, involving three types of rail vehicles. On the Goleta Short Line miniature-train, there will be two trains offering rides on two different routes — a six-minute ride originating from the Main Station and a three-minute ride based out of the new Westside Station.

Train passengers will ride cars that are pulled by miniature engines fashioned after real Southern Pacific Railroad locomotives.

Depot Day visitors will also have the opportunity to propel themselves along on the museum's people-powered handcar or ride on a historic inspection car or “speeder,” formerly used on the Ventura Railway.

Event-goers can ride as much as they like throughout the day for a one-time fee of $3. There is a 48-inch minimum-height requirement for the handcar and 34-inch minimum for the other rides.

Depot Day also affords visitors the rare opportunity to view Goleta Depot's upstairs living quarters, where the station agents and their families once lived.

Hot sandwiches, soft drinks and other beverages will be available for purchase.

Depot Day visitors will be able to enjoy the museum's regular attractions, including the Southern Pacific bay-window caboose and the model-railroad exhibit, which depicts the Santa Barbara/Goleta areas of the early 20th century.

A donation of $1 per person will be requested upon admission.

For further information, please contact the museum office at 805.964.3540.

— Gary B. Coombs is the director of the South Coast Railroad Museum

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