For decades it was known as Car No. 10, an electric streetcar that carried unknown numbers of Bakersfield residents from one side of town to the other on steel rails that crisscrossed the burgeoning city.

Later, when it was retired in 1933 from the Bakersfield and Kern Electric Railway, the trolly car was auctioned off and used, a la the Haggard family, as an addition to a local residence.

In 1981, it landed at the Kern County Museum.

Now the 1912-vintage streetcar is starring — faded though it may be — as the centerpiece of the museum's newest exhibit, a Trolly Car Station that doubles as an event space, and just possibly one of the most unique party rooms in Bakersfield.

The space is ideal for wedding receptions, corporate gatherings and other special events, said Brenna Charatsaris, the museum's event manager.

It includes a bar and a roll-up door to provide easy access to caterers, food trucks and other suppliers. It seats well over 100, but when the doors are flung open, the room can combine with the adjacent Neon Plaza to accommodate more than 300 guests.

The Trolly Car Station will not be open to regular visitors, except on special occasions. But as part of the Ray Watson Transportation Exhibit, a 3,000 square foot room that, come November, will be ready to display the museum's impressive collection of historic vehicles, the trolly station will surely carry a special cachet.

"Many of us remember Pioneer Village as a special place from our childhood," Charatsaris said. "But this is an area for our adult life."

The streetcar company operated between downtown Bakersfield and Baker Street from 1901 to 1942 when the line closed, according to the museum. The first line ran between the Southern Pacific depot in east Bakersfield and the Santa Fe depot in the city's downtown.

The system grew and by 1917, 10 miles of lines were in service on 19th Street and on Chester Avenue.

Two doors in the new station were taken from the old Southern Pacific depot, which still stands at Baker Street. The timetable behind the bar came from the Santa Fe depot, said Lori Wear, the museum's curator.

"We wanted it to have that feel," Wear said. And it makes sense. Pioneer Village has been giving visitors the feel of being thrust back in time for generations.

Thanks to funding from the Harry and Ethel West Foundation and the Ben H. and Gladys Arkelian Foundation, this latest dream has become a reality.

"We have historic photos of how it looked before they enclosed the car," Wear said of the trolly. "The next step is to work on restoring this piece."

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(1) comment


thanks for this story......the history of the trolley and the ability of folks to make it all happen at the museum is a good thing

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