1. Tundraboomer says:

    Thanks for posting these photo of a depot I saw almost every day in my youth, but never took the time to photograph it.

    For many years there was a large Christmas tree lot behind this depot. I started going there as a kid because my Dad worked at McDonnell Douglas right next door and they had some sort of deal for Douglas employees.

    I used to love buying my tree there just because the trees were super fresh and came straight out of a box car. In later years, no matter what part of So Cal I lived in, I’d make the trek to that lot every year to get my tree. For a number of years I lived in South Orange County which was a 90 mile round trip, but it was worth it to me. Buying a tree at that lot became my own personal Christmas tradition.

    The trees arrived in regular (non-insulated) cars, at least at this lot, and for many years only the oldest and rattiest box cars were used in Christmas Tree service so it was always interesting to see what old box cars would be spotted next to the lot every year. Anyway, there was something magical about this place with all the fresh trees, strings of lights, and a backdrop provided by 5 or 6 box cars and the old freight depot. I always went at night when the air was cold and crisp and the smell of fresh pine hung heavy in the air. The city just seemed to disappear there and I always felt like I was in another time and place.

    After you selected your tree, you would drag it up to the little cashier’s shack at the front of the lot, and right behind the depot’s freight dock, where inside there was always a UP calendar hanging from a nail in the wall and opened to the month of December. Then you pulled up to the loading area next to the depot to load your tree into (or onto) your car. Everything about the experience was like stepping back in time (except for the prices). But I was always willing to pay more just for the experience.

    Years ago when I worked for the UP I made my annual trek up there and I ended up dealing with the owner of the lot as I was looking for a 7′ Noble. I happened to be wearing a UP safety award windbreaker, which he commented on, so I mentioned to him that I worked for UP and I thanked him for choosing rail to bring his trees in and that I had been coming back there for many years because of that. He grumbled something about “the ‘bleep’ing railroad” then half jokingly told me he wanted to charge me extra just for being a UP employee. Like so many small shippers at the time, he was fed up with the problems and disadvantages that came with rail service and he was thinking about going to trucks.

    True to his word the lot went to trucks the following year then disappeared altogether not long after. Today, at least the tracks are still there, but the depot is gone, the lot has been fenced off and paved.

    Now I buy my tree at Home Depot for a fraction of the price it was at the Lakewood lot. But I would go back there in a heartbeat and pay their crazy prices just to enjoy the experience again. Christmas just ain’t the same any more.

      I have been blogiing for several years now and I want to tell you, this the best comment I have received. Your comment is well composed and informative to boot. What you have presented will be my paradigm for the kind of comments I hope to receive in the future.
      What is the story behind your “nom de plume”. If it has anything to do with Alaska, we have things in common.
      aka, Mel


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