“What About Postwar Fillmore?”
Fillmore and the Railroad 75 Years Ago
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Seventy-five years ago, Fillmore and the rest of the world were just coming out of one of the worst series of events man had ever known – the Great Depression and World War II. Here is an excerpt from an article written in January, 1946, about our town by an unknown author.
“During the war everybody was expected to concentrate on winning for our side – and quite properly so.
But now that the war is over – theoretically at least – it would seem the part of wisdom to get busy, total up our prospects, and get going in high gear as soon as is humanly possible.
Suppose we start with buildings – both business and residential… There are some buildings that must be torn down to make way for progress… (W)hy do we continue to tolerate the ancient edifice which is called by courtesy a railroad station? That rambling old wreck was built just after the Civil War, and is not getting any younger. When rain comes, the water naturally seeks the lowest level, which means that a good-sized pond is in evidence under the station floor for many days after each rain. The net result is rotting underpinning, so that when people walk into the depot they cannot be sure the floor will not give way and thus endanger life and limb.
Depot in its heyday, c 1910
From the amount of business, the (rail)road enjoys, it would seem at least that could be done would be a station which would be a credit to the railroad as well as the community. Looks like a very proper function for the Chamber of Commerce would be to storm the railroad offices and keep storming them until something is done about the deplorable condition.
Los Angeles has become so big that it is no place for people to live – so that many a business man has his business in Los Angeles, while his home is somewhere in the suburbs. Pretty soon many a Los Angeles business man will own a helicopter – and he will establish his home in Fillmore or some other suburban spot located in the fresh air zone. It will be a matter of ten or fifteen minutes to get home to Fillmore after closing hours…”
Well, not everything has come to pass quite as was predicted in 1946. The railroad didn’t improve the depot, instead it was closed and later sold to Edith Moore Jarrett for $1.05. It was moved and renovated to become the home of the Fillmore Historical Museum. In 1995 it was moved back near the tracks a little east of its original location. Even though the depot is not in the same location as it was in 1946, when it rains, water does accumulate beneath it – but now there is a very effective sump pump.
Depot today, Fillmore Historical Museum
We do have helicopters flying over the town, but not for commuting business men. Not every businessman has his own helicopter, but with better roads and the move to telecommuting, Fillmore has become attractive to commuters, as can be seen with all the houses under construction. And the railroad has become a tourist attraction. We now enjoy the whistles and the sounds of the steam engine which reminds us of how it used to be all those years ago when the depot was the center of activity in town.