Opened by the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1918, the Spanish Mission Revival style depot has been known to generations of travelers by its four domed towers.
San Bernardino, California
1170 West Third Street San Bernardino, CA 92410
- Annual Station Revenue (2013)
- Annual Station Ridership (2013)
|Facility Ownership||San Bernadino Associated Governments|
|Parking Lot Ownership||City of San Bernardino|
|Platform Ownership||BNSF Railway|
|Track Ownership||BNSF Railway|
|350 Long Term Parking Spaces||Accessible Platform||Dedicated Parking|
|Enclosed Waiting Area||Metrolink Kiosk|
- Southwest Chief
(202) 906-3918 (ph)
Local Community Links:
- City of San Bernardino, CA
- Amtrak California
- San Bernardino History & Railroad Museum
The current Amtrak station in San Bernadino was built by the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company (now BNSF Railway) in response to requests by the city of San Bernardino for a depot to replace the wooden one destroyed by fire in 1916. Designed by W.A. Mohr at a cost of approximately $800,000, the new station opened to the public on July 15, 1918. At the time, this Spanish Mission Revival style depot was the largest train station depot west of the Mississippi River. This new depot was built using hollow clay blocks within the walls for fire suppression. The simple outer surface of the station was created using stucco and also features a red tile roof. However, it is the four domed towers that truly accentuate the exterior of the station.
The interior space includes a center lobby with tiled walls and floors. Handcrafted high beams and column capitals with coffered ceilings decorate the rest of the building. Somewhat unique at the time was the mail tube system built between the different station offices, which replaced the earlier used courier boys. Similarly unique in the station was the intricate telephone system used for dispatching trains.
Throughout most of the 20th century, the San Bernardino station thrived. As passenger rail was a main method of travel and highly prevalent in the San Bernardino region, upwards of 85% of the region was employed by or dependent upon the railways, making the station a center for work activity. The station also played an important role during World War II. Like so many stations in California at the time, troop trains were constantly running through the station, often with train-bound soldiers filling the station’s waiting area. Similarly, because of the mass migration of people to California in search of new jobs and opportunities, the station served as a major hub for their arrival. Following the highs of the post-World War II prosperity, there was a noticeable decline in station usage and train travel.
Ownership of the station switched hands in 1992, when the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) bought the station from the Santa Fe Rail Company. It was apparent that the station was in need of restoration. Enough funds for such an undertaking were not accrued until 2002 when SANBAG, in a multiyear effort, obtained approximately $15 million in federal and local grants in order to renovate the station.
Recent renovations have been designed by architect Milford Wayne Donaldson, who adhered to a plan to restore the station along historical architectural guidelines. Soltech Pacific and Transtech Engineers, hired to carry out the restoration, managed to accomplish a massive change at the station. Over $1 million dollars worth of asbestos was removed, old heating ducts and plumbing systems were replaced with more up-to-date models, and any lead -based paint was removed. Crews also removed numerous pigeons, families of cats, and approximately 500 pounds of honey from bees inside the wall. Wherever it was possible, as much of the original structures were maintained. Original doors were generally refurbished and the tile on the walls and floors was either restored or replaced. If the tiles were capable of restoration, they were sent to professional paint matching companies in order to maintain their original appearance. Similarly, artists were hired to re-carve the column top capitals.
Currently, SANBAG offices fill the second floor. The ground level is occupied by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA/Metrolink), the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), and a snack bar and coffee shop. In addition, the San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum attracts many visitors for its interesting collection of railroad artifacts, historic photographs, and the Santa Fe Western Archives.
Francisco Dumetz, a Franciscan monk visiting the region on May 20, 1810, the feast day of Saint Bernardino of Siena named the region after this saint. In the years that followed, a mission system existed in the Valley, but was eventually dismantled by the Mexican government. The next major settlers in the region were Mormons sent on direct expedition orders from Mormon leader, Brigham Young. Upon arrival, this group purchased one of the last remaining Rancheros, which included much of the current San Bernardino region. This same group would lay out the street grid system that exists to this day. They would go on to establish San Bernardino County in 1853, mapping it according to their road system. By the city’s centennial in 1910, the population had increased to 12, 779. An influx of jobs that included both the railway and military industries would allow San Bernardino to achieve ample prosperity. It was during these prosperous years that Norton Air Force Base was opened, as was the world’s first McDonald’s, which opened in 1948.
The San Bernardino station is one of the oldest train stations in California and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this facility, although the company does financially support a docent program which allows for opening the building one hour prior to the trains’ arrival. Amtrak tickets are available at the Metrolink ticket vending machines. This is made possible through a joint project funded by the California State Department of Transportation. San Bernadino is served twice daily by the Southwest Chief.