Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad Depot

The elegant Nevada-California-Oregon (NCO) Railroad Depot was constructed in 1910, replacing an earlier depot that had operated on leased land at the corner of Lake and Plaza Streets. The railroad line it served was founded in Reno in 1880 as the Nevada & Oregon Railroad Company, with the intent of connecting the city northward to the Columbia River, transporting both freight and passengers along its narrow gauge tracks. Long backed by the Moran Brothers, a New York banking firm, the railroad joined the existing Central Pacific and Virginia & Truckee (V&T) railroads, enhancing Reno's status as a prominent western junction.

Designed by prominent Nevada architect Frederic DeLongchamps the same year that he designed the Washoe County Court House, the two-story brick depot reflects the eclecticism that early 20th-century architects often employed. Its style combines Italianate bracketed cornices, Mission-style facade elements, Roman arches, and red Spanish roof tiles. The ground floor featured a main waiting room and separate women’s waiting room, with general railroad offices located on the second floor.

The depot was constructed during the NCO’s peak, between 1906 and 1912; by 1914, having reached as far north as Lakeview, Oregon, the railroad began to decline. By 1917, the company was forced to sell 64 miles of the main line and all of its Nevada holdings to the Western Pacific Railroad, and moved its headquarters to Alturas, California. The Western Pacific converted the tracks to standard gauge, using the building as a passenger and freight depot until 1937, and as general offices for the company and a variety of other local businesses for the next 20 years.

In 1958, the building was sold to Thelma and Pete Barengo, who operated it for decades as the general headquarters for the Sierra Wine & Liquor Company, the distribution company the family had founded locally in 1934. The Barengos also constructed a 15,000-square foot concrete warehouse next door, employing a pneumatic tube system to send orders directly from the office to the warehouse’s stock room.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the building sat vacant for a decade after the Barengos' departure. It gained new ownership in 2013, underwent an extensive renovation, and reopened on New Year's Eve, 2014 as The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery.

Images

The New Depot, 1910

The New Depot, 1910

A stylish woman outside the new depot soon after its completion in 1910. On the left, the railway's tracks appear near completion, while the tracks for Fourth Street's streetcar line can be seen in the foreground. Image courtesy of Neal Cobb and Jerry Fenwick View File Details Page

Architect's Plans

Architect's Plans

The original plans by Frederic DeLongchamps specify the roof to be constructed of Niagara Tile. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

The Previous Depot

The Previous Depot

A wagon-full of well-dressed passengers rides by the original NCO depot at Plaza and Lake Streets. In the distance can be seen the top floor of the Hotel Espanol, on E. Plaza Street. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

A "Palatial Depot"

A "Palatial Depot"

Upon its completion, one contemporary observer called the structure “a palatial depot building, so ornate that it is almost gaudy.” Image courtesy of Dick Dreiling View File Details Page

Western Pacific Railroad, 1943

Western Pacific Railroad, 1943

The depot was sold to the Western Pacific Railroad in 1917 and was still the WP headquarters at the time of this 1943 photo. Image courtesy of Dick Dreiling View File Details Page

Sierra Wine & Liquor, 1979

Sierra Wine & Liquor, 1979

In 1979, when listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the depot served as the offices for Sierra Wine & Liquor. Image courtesy of National Register of Historic Places View File Details Page

Sierra Wine & Liquor, 1979

Sierra Wine & Liquor, 1979

Upon acquiring the depot in 1958, the owners of Sierra Wine & Liquor made very few changes to the building, interior or exterior. Image courtesy of National Register of Historic Places View File Details Page

Concrete Details

Concrete Details

A striking feature of the depot is the extensive use of concrete in its construction, including the quoins (masonry blocks) at all exterior corners, window sills, and accents on the curvilinear gable and molding of the front entrance. Image courtesy of City of Reno, Historical Resources Commission View File Details Page

Architectural details, 2014

Architectural details, 2014

A close-up view of the depot's west facade shows the Italianate bracketed cornices and lion anchors that previously held chains supporting elaborate canopies. Photo by Alicia Barber View File Details Page

New life, 2014

New life, 2014

Opened in 2014, the Depot Craft Brewery Distillery preserved the beautiful historic character of the building's exterior. For its efforts, the business won a Historic Preservation Award from the City of Reno in 2015. | Creator: The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery View File Details Page

Renovated interior

Renovated interior

The second floor dining area of The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery features the original exposed brick and window openings, through which the surrounding buildings on East 4th Street can be viewed. | Creator: The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery View File Details Page

The original safe

The original safe

The original safe used by the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway remains in the building. Too heavy to be moved from its original location, it can be found in the ground floor men's restroom. | Creator: The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery View File Details Page

Street Address:

325 East 4th Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Alicia Barber, “Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad Depot,” Reno Historical, accessed August 24, 2017, http://www.renohistorical.org/items/show/52.

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