1911: The only known date stamp on the boxcar, found on a metal plate on the subfloor. What that tells historical architect George Taylor Louden is that the boxcar itself dates to 1911 or the part that contained the stamp is that old, meaning the boxcar could be older.
1935: The Haggards move to Bakersfield from Oklahoma for good. James and Flossie Haggard buy the boxcar from Marianna Bohna for $500, making payments of $10 a month. They move into the boxcar, while construction continues, on Sept. 15, 1935.
To the boxcar, James Haggard adds a front bedroom, screened back porch that later is enclosed and converted to a second bedroom and a breakfast nook. The living room, kitchen and bathroom were all fashioned out of the boxcar itself.
They intend for the boxcar home to be temporary, until they can build a bigger home on their Oildale lot.
April 6, 1937: Merle Ronald Haggard is born at Kern General Hospital. By the time he’s 3 months old, his mother and sister catch him in his bassinet in the bedroom at the front of the house keeping time to the music on the radio.
March 16, 1940: A deed is recorded with the Kern County Recorder’s Office transferring ownership of the property at 1303 Yosemite Drive from Marianna Bohna to James F. and Flossie Haggard.
1946: James Haggard dies.
Late 1950s: As a married father in and out of trouble with the law, Merle leaves the boxcar home permanently. His mother, Flossie, builds another house on the property in about 1959 and moves into that home, which still stands at Yosemite Drive in Oildale.
1984: Flossie Haggard dies.
1989: Lillian Haggard Rea sells the family home.
1980s-2015: The home’s wood siding, both inside and out, is covered with drywall and stucco. The boxcar home generally falls into disrepair.
Dec. 11, 1996: Lowell Haggard dies.
2011: Sisters Glenda Rankin and Di Sharman begin a fundraising campaign to move the Haggard home to the Kern County Museum. The museum’s board agrees to accept and restore the house if the sisters can move it.
January 2015: Merle Haggard walks through the gutted home in Oildale for the last time. “I grew up here with intentions of escaping,” Haggard says that day, noting he was honored that his family home was bound for the museum. Later, he picks the spot at the museum where he wants the house to go, right across from a Santa Fe caboose and steam engine.
July 2015: The additions James Haggard built are dismantled and the boxcar and original lumber are moved to the Kern County Museum in a caravan that includes Merle Haggard aboard his tour bus.
April 6, 2016: Merle Haggard dies on his 79th birthday, breaking the hearts of country music fans around the world.
May 2016: Restoration begins in earnest in May, with the hiring of architect George Taylor Louden by Cynthia Lake, whose foundation is paying for the restoration.
April 9, 2017: The boxcar officially opens for public tours.