Nearly 100 years ago, construction on the Southern Pacific Railroad Co. train depot was completed. After persistent demands from the citizens of Turlock, the city finally had a brand new depot intended specifically to accommodate passengers, rather than the goods and merchandise the site formerly shipped. June 7 will mark the depot’s centennial celebration, and since its construction the building has seen almost all of the history that Turlock has to offer.
Located in the center of Turlock’s historic downtown business district, current depot owner Tony Walker purchased the building in 1999 because of its distinct characteristics.
“I think it’s probably the single-most identifiable building in Turlock,” said Walker. “We’ve had a lot of enjoyment there.”
Since buying the depot almost 20 years ago, Walker has seen the building transform from the traditional British pub and Restaurant named Wellington Station to its present venue, 10 EAST Kitchen & Tap House. But, before Walker made his mark on the former railroad station, the building had a rich history of its own.
In 1916, Turlock’s new train station offered travelers a modern, comfortable location to purchase train tickets and buy something to eat while they waited for a train that would deliver them to their destination. Droves of Swedish, Portuguese, Assyrian, Japanese and Hispanic immigrants have poured through the depot’s doors over the years, building new lives in and around the town that in 1915 was home to fewer than 3,000 inhabitants.
The Southern Pacific depot continued to provide passenger service to Turlock and other Central Valley communities until the early 1970s when Amtrak took over the responsibility, moving the service to the railroad tracks on Santa Fe. Southern Pacific then continued to operate a freight train service until 1996 when the Union Pacific Railroad overtook that service as well.
After its days of transporting passengers and goods were over, the depot sat vacant for a few years until a local investor bought the Central Park landmark, leasing it to two local businessmen who converted the building into an upscale restaurant named Track 29.
The southern half of the depot became the kitchen, food prep, dishwashing, cold storage and dry goods areas, and the northern half that formerly accommodated ticketing, passenger waiting, boarding and luggage storage was converted into a seating area for diners.
“The principle layout and design of the depot was kept, but they made it acceptable for dining,” said Walker.
Three full-size train cars, including a caboose dating back to the 1800s, were acquired and transformed into dining rooms to accommodate additional patrons, keeping true to the building’s original roots as a passenger train depot.
Since first being converted into a restaurant, the depot has seen countless remodels and renovations to reflect each restaurant’s theme. From Track 29, the depot went on to host Traxx Bar & Grill before eventually becoming Wellington Station, and now 10 EAST Kitchen and Tap House.
To celebrate the depot’s 100th birthday, 10 EAST will offer food and drink specials fashioned after popular drinks and dishes from the era when the depot first opened. From June 7 -11, diners can order bison chicken fried steak with coffee stout red eye gravy and sip on the centennial special drink, “The Century.” Kids can enjoy period-era cream of tomato soup with a grilled cheese and cookie and throw it back to the 1900s with an ice cold sarsaparilla. A wall display featuring old photographs and early news articles will also be available for viewing.