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Roseburg Station: A Journey Into the Past
by Tim Hills, McMenamins Staff Historian
Sitting at the bar, not far from where the depot operator worked at his telegraph key, you look out onto the tracks over which trains passed, carrying the likes of everyone from Civil War General William T. Sherman to Sammy Davis, Jr., and Buffalo Bill Cody to a dying President Warren G. Harding.
For decades, railroading was Roseburg's lifeblood and the depot stood at the very center of it all. Now the 98-year-old station is about the last vestige remaining from the time when trains reigned supreme. In its reincarnation as McMenamins Roseburg Station — a pub, brewery and family gathering spot — its heritage remains intact.
Roseburg's long, intertwining history with the railroad dates back to 1872 when the first locomotive rolled into town. Over the next decade, the young community thrived as the temporary end of the line. After the tracks were completed to California, Roseburg continued to grow and prosper as a Division Point on Southern Pacific's Shasta Route.
Roseburg's healthy lumber industry continued to fill rail car after rail car up to the postwar World War II period, until the bottom fell out in the 1980s. From that time, Southern Pacific's local presence withered.
In the beginning, Roseburg had little to brag about in the way of a railroad station. The original facility, built in 1872, was a small, one-room wooden square box of a building. At the turn of the century, a new wooden structure, three times the size of its predecessor, was built. This second station had a relatively short life span. In 1912, it was replaced with the present brick-and-aggregate structure.
Now, the classic Southern Pacific depot has been restored to serve in a new role as McMenamins Roseburg Station. The renovation preserved as much of the building's architectural character as possible. Original features such as the vaulted, 16-foot-high ceiling, tongue-and-groove fir wainscoting, and marble molding were all cleaned and polished and a graceful, red tile roof (matching its original construction) was added.