Chapter 5 - Moving Day Arrives - Eventually

As early as December 1987, John McMahan, SVHR member and chairman of the newly formed Woodland S.P. Depot Committee, began researching how to move the depot as one option for saving it. When it became a certainty that the depot was to be moved to a new site, the committee, in January 1990, obtained the services of MCA Specifications to “describe the procedures to be utilized in relocating the depot”, and to provide “technical advice for the relocation portion of the project” to the project architect, Bill McCandless of the firm Gary Wirth AIA Architect + Associates. They determined that the relocation “should have a minimal effect on the existing structure and no effect on the historical integrity of the depot.”

The committee then began its search for a house moving company to move the depot and started raising funds for the move. In January 1991, a local entrepreneur, who wished to remain anonymous, donated $15,000 to SVHR to move the depot with any remaining funds to be used for restoration. At the same time, SVHR also obtained a commitment from the City of Woodland to waive the planning fees, water and sewer fees, and the building moving permit fee. Not much else happened with the moving process until November 1991, when SVHR got its first Right of Entry Permit from the Southern Pacific to enter the depot to begin to get it ready for the move. This permit was renewed repeatedly as there were delays. By December 31, 1991, Greyhound Bus had vacated the building after having been there for 31 years.

Finally, on January 3, 1992, a contract was signed with Scott House Movers of North Highlands to move the depot for $15,000. The actual cost of the move was $40,000, but the owner of the company donated the remaining $25,000 on the condition that they could move the depot as time permitted for them. The conditions set forth by the State Historic Preservation Office were also made part of the contract. The preliminary work on the building by the movers was initially scheduled to begin the week of January 6, with the actual move to take place during the week of January 13, weather permitting. On January 28, 1992, the movers raised the building and got it ready to move. Upon examining the building after it was raised, the architect decided that a new slab and footings at the new site would have to be laid first which would delay the move for at least 3 weeks. Unfortunately, the depot ended up sitting on wood cribbing for several months and was repeatedly vandalized with nearly all of the windows being broken. In February, the phone booth on the west side of the building was removed.

The committee then began looking for a cement contractor and obtained an agreement for Dixon Redi-Mix to give SVHR concrete at half price. Benedict Trenching agreed to do the trenching and excavation work for the foundation and Kim Bennett Concrete of Woodland agreed to put the concrete forms in place. Several SVHR volunteers assisted with the foundation work by providing labor to shovel dirt and hammer stakes. On February 29, 1992, the foundation was poured and Kim Bennett Concrete provided eight people to work the concrete. The form lumber, re-bar, anchor bolts, etc. were donated by Central Valley Builders Supply in Woodland. The rough plumbing work was donated by Nichols Plumbing of Woodland. After the foundation was poured, 85 tons of gravel was put in place in preparation for pouring the slab floor. Dixon Redi-Mix poured the slab on March 31 and April 8.

Although the depot patiently waited on its cribbing to be moved, the phone company did not remove the phone line to the building until April 23. On May 12, the last Right of Entry Permit from Southern Pacific was signed and was good for 45 days. However, in early June it looked like the delays would continue since the mover’s dollies were still in the Bay Area to move a house onto a barge and the barge had gone missing. It was later located but Caltrans first needed the mover to move some houses in Fresno.

Finally, on Friday, June 12, 1992, the depot was moved to the new site and placed over the foundation. Scott House Movers worked from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and brought up an extra crew from the Fresno job. The move was covered by TV channel 13 and all of the local newspapers. John McMahan was present the entire time to supervise the move. SVHR volunteers gathered up and saved loose chimney bricks and photographed the old concrete floors once the depot had been moved. However, a problem was found with the new mudsill that was installed on the foundation and the building could not be lowered on to it. The new sill had been made with new lumber but the old sill was made from old true-dimension redwood lumber which was larger than the new material. The remaining parts of the old sill were not compatible with the new sill. The problem was solved when new Douglas fir 3” x 12” lumber was donated and a milling company donated its services to cut it in to actual 2” x 4”s to mesh with the old 2” x 4”s. Western Wood Treating Company then donated its services to treat the newly milled 2” x 4”s. The new mud sill was installed at the end of August and the depot was finally lowered onto the foundation the first part of September 1992.

That same September volunteer, Neal Peart, facilitated the donation of a new electrical service from Platt Electric in Woodland, and lined up electricians to help install it. SVHR volunteers trenched from the power pole on Sixth Street and installed two conduits from the pole to the building, one for the electrical service and a smaller one for the phone line. A third conduit was installed from the building out to the yard for future lighting. Volunteers also boarded up the broken windows and began dismantling a chain link fence at the old Diamond National site north of the depot that Southern Pacific had donated back in January. This fence would eventually be reinstalled around the depot to provide security for it.

With the building secured by the new fence and new security lighting, the restoration work on the depot finally was begun.

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