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Rocks, Rails & Ranches

History on track in Rocklin

GPS coordinates: (N 38° 47.471', W 121° 14.236')
By: Gary Day, Special to the Placer Herald
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Rocklin History Tour

This is the sixth installment of a 19-part series where Gary Day will take readers on a tour of Rocklin’s historic sites. You can find the sites yourself with a handy Rocklin History Tour booklet, available at the Rocklin History Museum, 3895 Rocklin Road. GPS coordinates were provided by Brian Ignaut. Short stories about Rocklin’s history are at www.rocklinhistory.org/history_series.asp.

Rocklin’s railroad depot is on Rocklin Road at the corner of Railroad Avenue, next to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. The city of Rocklin built it in 2007 to beautify Rocklin’s blighted railroad corridor and to complement the Old Saint Mary’s Chapel restoration in the new Heritage Park across the tracks to the west.

Rocklin’s Chamber of Commerce occupies the north end of the depot building. The ticketing and waiting areas are at the south end.

Rocklin was a passenger stop on the original route of the Transcontinental Railroad as the tracks reached Rocklin from Sacramento in 1864. A railroad timetable from the time lists Rocklin as a stop between Junction, now Roseville, and Pino, now Loomis. The passenger depot might have been  makeshift, possibly a railcar on a siding, because railroad records show that Rocklin’s first depot building was built in 1867 at about the same time as the construction of Rocklin’s roundhouse. That depot was at the same spot as today’s depot and included a telegraph office and John Sweeney’s saloon. A freight depot was on the opposite side of the tracks.

That original depot burned down in 1891. A second depot, built at the same spot that same year, was demolished in 1940, a victim of Rocklin’s faltering Depression-era economy.

In the late 19th century, out-of-towners traveled to Rocklin by rail for warm weather picnicking and outdoor Saturday night dances sponsored by Rocklin’s Volunteer Fire Department. The firemen once located their dance floor on the flat-topped hill across Rocklin Road from the depot.