|Oceano Depot Early History
THE OCEANO DEPOT
"Probably no other building ever constructed in the South County played such an
role in the settlement of the area than did the Oceano Depot"- Harold Guiton
Prior to 1895, the only way to access the area was by stagecoach or wagon over
tortuous trails or by sailing vessels and early steamships. In anticipation of
proposed Southern Pacific Railroad route along the coast, several prominent
and developers began plans for a new city on the S.P. mainline. In 1893, R.E.
and E.W. Steele filed the first map of the Town of Oceano.
As was customary at
time, the right of way was given to Southern Pacific with the stipulation that
be constructed and maintained for freight and passenger service. So when the
reached Oceano in 1896, a handsome building was constructed on the site provided
for on the map labeled "Southern Pacific Depot Grounds" and a wave of prosperity
was to sweep over Oceano. The area now enjoyed overnight passenger, freight
and telegraph service, all of which passed through and around the Oceano Depot.
The first depot met with disaster when an accidental fire in the fall of 1903
entire station to a pile of ashes. S.P. immediately set up service in a
boxcar, shipped in an almost identical surplus station from the Bay area in
swept the ashes off the original foundation, and in March 1904, service was
resumed in the station we know today.
The initial success of the Depot and the community reached its peak around 1920
from that point on, the growing popularity of the automobile, a more efficient
trucking industry and or course, the "Great Depression" all combined to erode the
of the Oceano station. Passenger service was discontinued in the 1950's and
suspension of mail and telegraph service followed soon after. Shipping of celery
and other vegetables from the Arroyo Grande Valley kept the freight office going
a busy rate well into the 1960's, but competition from the trucking industry and
in crop production and packing methods finally brought about the closing of the
depot in 1973.
It was then acquired by the Phelan-Taylor Packing Company who used the warehouse
portion for an experimental packing facility. When this venture ended, the
stood alone and abandoned alongside the S.P. Tracks, slated for demolition.
When the Oceano Improvement Association learned of the scheduled demolition
it embarked on a volunteer project to save it for use as a museum and community
hall. A bill of sale for the traditional sum of One Dollar was given to the
Mr. Edwin Taylor, and an agreement was reached with Southern Pacific to leave the
station on its original location temporarily until a more suitable site could be
found. County Supervisor Howard Mankins helped secure a long term lease on
County owned property at the present site, and he was also successful in
a Federal revenue sharing grant which enabled the organization to move the
acquire some additional private land and begin restoration efforts.