Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Niles Depot Museum

I have just discovered the historic district of Niles, in the city of Fremont, California. I'd read about Niles in the San José Mercury News, because of their famous antique fair, but I had never visited. Last weekend I had the luxury of exploring Niles Boulevard by myself. There was so much to see that I'll have to divide this blog into three parts, beginning with  -

The Niles Depot Museum.

Major restoration completed in 2009

The museum is a good starting point to study the history of the railroad in Niles. The depot itself is the original one built by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1901. It is situated on its original site but turned 180° away from the tracks to face the town. It was not always in this location, and has been moved a couple of times. Set to be demolished in 1981 by the Southern Pacific railroad, it was saved by a grassroots effort of volunteers, the city of Fremont, and the Tri-City Society of Model Engineers. The depot's history is quite interesting, you can read more about it here.

An Original Western Pacific Railroad Caboose - WP467
Inside the museum you'll see a replication of the inside of a railroad depot, meaning you will see authentic furniture, telephones, telegraph equipment, railroad signals, lanterns, uniforms, etc.. There are many historic photos as well. Please note, this is not a hands on museum. Children need to know they can look but not touch. 

Depot Office

The Tri-City Engineers are currently constructing two large layouts of model railroads, including an HO layout  and N scale layout. You can view part of the construction behind glass and if you ask nicely, the engineers will open a door for you to see more. I was very impressed with the models. I cannot describe it better then this quote from their website: The layouts are based in Niles and the surrounding communities of the Bay Area. Attention is being given to accuracy and detail in both the track plans and surrounding scenery. The modeling era is the mid-1970s, but all industries and towns are being represented as they were in their prime. 

Steve and Larry, Tri-City Society Engineers who were both knowledgeable and nice.

Replication of The Niles Canyon Railway

Drive-in under construction - I wonder what movie they'll show?

The town of Niles came into existence because of the transcontinental railroad. In fact its history of the railroad (railroads I should say) is so extensive I cannot begin to cover it here. The best I can do is direct you to the Niles Canyon Railway website and this book. Also, Niles is known for its famous Christmas Train Of Lights. Tickets usually sell out by early October.

The Union Pacific
And last but not least, because it's the Christmas season the museum has set up a Christmas themed model train display. Here is a short video clip for you to enjoy.


If you go: the Niles Depot Museum is currently open on Sundays from 10 AM to 4 PM.
                  they are located at 37592 Niles Boulevard, Fremont, CA 94536
                  Mailing Address: Niles Depot Historical Foundation
                                               P.O. Box 2716, Fremont, CA 94536


digifotovet said...

My sister and I were born in Niles 1945 & 1943 respectively) in a birth home. We lived in Hayward until moving to Medford, Oregon in 1947.

Karen Gough said...

I'm glad you enjoyed reading the Niles blogs! Thank you.