Arbuckle depot museum, visitor center one step closer to reality

A long-envisioned train museum and visitor center in Arbuckle moved a step closer to becoming reality last Tuesday, as the Colusa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to purchase the property located on 5th St. and Hall St. from Union Pacific.

The county and the railroad agreed to a purchase price of $86,000 for the property, which is just under an acre in size and includes the old train depot, along with LaVanch Hursch Community Park. The county will only be on the hook for $40,000 of that total, all of which will come out of the Board of Supervisors Discretionary Fund. The Arbuckle Revitalization Committee, which had previously been the driving force behind the efforts to renovate the old depot and turn it into a museum, will provide the remaining $46,000.

The county has 45 days to “complete its investigation and due diligence regarding the proposed property,” a staff report submitted to the board said. During that time, the property will be surveyed and inspected, and the county will obtain an estimate of the value through an appraisal or broker opinion letter and obtain a preliminary title report, the report explained. If everything goes according to plan, the proposed closing date could be Dec. 30, possibly sooner.

Using federal grant funding and assistance from the Arbuckle Revitalization Committee, the plan is to move the old depot 35 feet to the southwest, parallel with its current location, and rehabilitate the building.

Supervisor Kim Vann, who has been closely involved with the project since before the county became involved, said after the meeting that the building – which was originally constructed in 1876 – couldn’t be salvaged and renovated in its entirety. Instead, Vann said that the new train museum and visitor center would incorporate as much of the old building as possible – both in materials and in design.

Ultimately, after the building has been rehabilitated, the property will be transferred to the Arbuckle Parks and Recreation District.

“Eventually, after we finish with the federal grant through Cal Trans, we’ll then transfer to Arbuckle Parks and Recreation Special District, because they have long term funding to maintain (it),” Vann said. “Eventually, it will go to them.”

For now, the property will remain in the county’s hands, which Vann said was due to eligibility requirements for the transportation grant funding, for which only certain government entities are eligible.

“We need to do that because of the grant,” Vann said. “Because the actual (Parks and Recreation) special district is a government entity, they can manage it long-term.”

During the meeting, Vann was emotional when she explained what the project meant to her, and a number of other Arbuckle residents who have been leading the charge on the train museum for more than a decade.

“Just to give a feel-good on this for a second, this was a project that my mom, and Debbie (Charter’s) sister, Dianna (Voorhees) started about, what, 12 to 15 years ago?” Vann said. “It means a lot to both of us.”

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net