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Nostalgia & History > SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse

Date: 01/13/10 00:16
SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: choochoocharlie

You have seen the interior shots of it posted about a week or so ago. here is the story and some exterior shots of it. To paraphrase the newspaper article for my SPH&TS program at SLO here is what I said:

The earthquake of June 29th, 1925 destroyed many of Santa Barbaras ugliest buildings. Among them seemed to be the Southern Pacific's red brick roundhouse. It had nine stalls with a smoke vent over each one. It was located on the north side of Cabrillo Blvd., just across from the beach. santa Barbara had started a beautification process even before the quake. The Community Arts Association was pleased about ridding the town of many ugly buildings, as long as the owners could be persuaded to rebuild and conform to Spanish or Mediteranian architectural motifs. The chairman of the Plans and Planting committee was Pearl Chase, a distant relative of mine, who my wife and I met while living there.

The leaders persuaded the SP to cooperate with the City in its efforts to beautify itself by adapting a Spanish theme for its new roundhouse. SP at that time was seeking to improve its image, having lost its octopus like grip on State politics. Back came an anguished letter from an SP Vice-President; "How can a utilitarian structure like a locomotive roundhouse, be beautified?"

It was at this point that someone in Santa Barbara, most likely Pearl Chase, sent the railroad executive a picture post card of the famous bull ring in Seville. The rest is history. The SP, eager to appease it's critics in Santa Barbara, reconstructed it's roundhouse as an authentic duplicate, exteriorily speaking, of the Seville bull ring. On festive occasions, such as during FIESTA week, colored penants fluttered from the flagpoles along its facade facing Cabrillo Blvd. After many years it became a lumber yard, and vacated near the end. As I remember, it was mysteriously destroyed and became Fess Parkers' Red Lyon Inn. The round rotunda of the Inn is where the roundhouse used to be.

1 - newspaper article from the Santa Barbara News-Press
2 - Photo of the beach area from TV hill showing the tracks and the SB station. The Roundhouse can be seen in the trees in the upper right where Cabrillo Blvd. turns to the left and goes straight for a bit toward the bird refuge.
3 - When the roundhouse was occupied by the United States Plywood Co. Photo taken June, 1969.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/10 20:14 by choochoocharlie.

Date: 01/13/10 00:19
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: choochoocharlie

More photos from June, 1969.

Date: 01/13/10 00:22
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: choochoocharlie

Another photo from June, 1969 and two from October 14th, 1972 when it was empty.

Date: 01/13/10 00:25
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: choochoocharlie

More shots from October 14th, 1972. Last shot from the roof looking sort of North by Northwest.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/10 00:25 by choochoocharlie.

Date: 01/13/10 00:27
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: choochoocharlie

This last shot, also from October 14th, 1972, is looking kind of East by Northeast from the roof. You can barely make out the outline of where the turntable used to be. The SP mainline and what was left of the Santa Barbara yard is actually the other side of the buildings to the north side of the 3 gons in the photo. Milpas Street is out of the photo to the right where the tracks going from the roundhouse disappear. The tracks on the other side of the palm trees are now MOW tracks that dead end at the left out of the photo. At one time believe they were ready tracks and service tracks for the steam engines.

The street that took off from Cabrillo Blvd. at the southeast side of the roundhouse headed East was called Punta Gorda St. at the time of these photos. I see it was changed to something a bit more sophisticated when Fess Parker took over the property.


Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/10 00:43 by choochoocharlie.

Date: 01/13/10 07:43
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: FiveChime

Very interesting posting.

Regards, Jim Evans

Date: 01/13/10 08:18
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: ButteStBrakeman

Charlie: As usual, my friend.



Date: 01/13/10 09:28
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: nspctrjn

Here is the roundhouse foreman's account from inside the roundhouse during the earthquake! Also note a link to damaged RR track.


Date: 01/13/10 11:16
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: fredkharrison

Great topic, Charlie!

Fred Harrison
Central Point, OR

Date: 01/13/10 13:08
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: xtra1188w

I enjoyed your pictures and article Charlie. I hope that you don't mind but I saved several of your pictures that I am going to put on a cd along with other SP steam engine content and send to my old friend Joe Dale Morris. Do you know Joe Dale? When I told JD that he needs to join Trainorders.com he said that he would if not for the fact that he says it would probably be too big of a distraction to him right now. He's working on getting a second book on the SP Narrow gauge ready for publication, then he's got another book to write and get ready for the publisher on some SP Branch in California, when he gets thru with those books then he's going to finish the book that he's writing on the SP/T&NO lines.


Date: 01/13/10 18:04
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: 90mac

Son of a gun, who'd a thunk it???
I was there and didn't even know it was there.
Thanks for the history.

Date: 01/13/10 18:30
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: choochoocharlie

Sure Con, no problem. Heard about and saw the books by JDM but haven't met him in person yet.


Date: 01/13/10 22:24
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: ATSF100WEST

Mi esposa, born and raised in Santa Barbaria, related to me when she was a young lass of nine or so, her grandfather took her down to the roundhouse, and she was assisted to the cab of a steam engine (possibly an AC?), as it was turned on the tointable.

I knew I had to marry her when I found out her OLD phone number through the SB exchange was "4449"!



Date: 01/14/10 13:19
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: rehunn

You can tell those aren't recent pictures by the fact that it appears there was still some
local traffic (an increasingly rare occurrence between Salinas and GEMCO).

Date: 01/14/10 20:50
Re: SP Santa Barbara Roundhouse
Author: lpersonjr


Very interesting and scenic photo expose
of the topic! Thanks so much
for sharing.


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