in collaboration with The Spatial History Project

#21. Auburn Depot


This is a picture of Auburn track and siding. On single track railroads, sidings were necessary to load and unload freight and to allow other trains to pass. Looking closely, you can see an engineer in the cab and two brakemen on the cars. There is wood on the tender behind the locomotive. Because of the scarcity of coal in California in the early years of the railroad, the locomotive burned wood, a far less efficient fuel. From Crofutt's Transcontinental Tourist's Guide, 1871: "This is the county seat of Place county, a town of 1,000 inhabitants. Elevation, 1,362 feet. Gardens and orchards abound and everything betokens quiet, home-comforts and ease. It has excellent schools and fine churches, and one is the neatest looking towns in the county, though not as lively as regards business, freight and travel. The public buildings, court-house, etc are good and the found well kept. The greater part of the dwellings stand a little distance from the road" (Crofutt, 172).


The original site of the station has been replaced with a statue entitled the 'Chinese Coolie.' Coolie was a derogatory term that referred to indentured or unfree Asian laborers. The workers on the Central Pacific were, however, free wage laborers. Auburn dentist Ken Fox made this twenty-two foot sculpture in 1972 and it was moved to the old train station in 1989. The train by the statue is an historic railcar (a former Southern Pacific bay window caboose) which occupies the site of the old siding. (Thanks to John Snyder for further information)
Click here to view the photos on the map in History Pin.