The Caliente Railroad Depot
A large Neo-Mission type depot built in 1923, serving not only as Division Offices of the Union Pacific Railroad, but also as a hotel as well as a civic Center. Today it remains the most imposing structure in Caliente. The City of Caliente has taken it over in order to prevent its destruction In order to justify its cost, a City Hall complex and civic center is being constructed within the building. The exterior of the building is being left in its original form. Wherever possible the original wood, etc. is being left in the interior.
Caliente was founded by a railroad whose operations were based on steam motive power. It became U.P.’s best equipped steam facility between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. For many years Caliente was a division point between Las Vegas and Milford, Utah. Engine and trail crews changed here. in the days of steam locomotives, Caliente also was the center of a helper district – the terminal for locomotives and crews that assisted trails upgrade between Carp and Caliente, Caliente and Crestline, and Modena and Crestline. During World War II, 17 helper crews were assigned here and about 150 were employed in the locomotive, car, and agents departments.
The interior has extensive oak paneling, ornate doors, vaulted ceilings, and tile floors. The City is retaining all original paneling and tile and interior changes are being kept to a minimum.
The building is 54 feet by 341 feet (18,414 sq. ft.), white, with a red tile roof. Railroad tracks immediately adjacent to the depot have been removed and the City plans to landscape a portion of the 2.2 acres now under lease. A few years ago the rows of Lombardy poplars in the lawn on the south end of the building were cut.
The architectural style, generally known as the Mission Revival or the neo-Mission was used on the Union Pacific stations between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. The Caliente depot is the only station of its type left in Nevada It was designed by the Los Angeles firm of John and Donald Parkinson, Architects. They also designed the Los Angeles depot. A styling note is the full arched openings on the lower floor, with a rectangular pattern around all openings on the second floor. Wrought iron guard rails protect upstairs door openings (fire escapes).
The second floor was originally used as a hotel for the overnight accommodation of train travelers and railroad officers. A separate adjacent dormitory (now removed) served layover train crews in the last years of the Age of Steam. The second floor facilities have been removed and there are no current plans for the use of the area although access has been maintained.
“Following the war Caliente’s importance as a railroad center began to decline. The diesel locomotives, which replaced the steam engines in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, could be run in multiples with one crew eliminating the need for helpers, nor did they require fuel, water, and servicing as frequently. Forces and facilities were gradually reduced as diesel power gained prominence.
Shop facilities were moved to Las Vegas in 1948. The roundhouse, water tank, and excess yard tracks were removed and the depot turned over to the City of Caliente on a long-term lease (10 years for $1) in 1970.” – Allen Krieg, Union Pacific Railroad