Filed Under Transportation

Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad Depot

The ornate 1910 depot served the N-C-O Railroad, which once ran north to Lakeview, Oregon.

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. Source: Neal Cobb and Jerry Fenwick Date: 1910
Architect's Plans
Architect's Plans The original plans by Frederic DeLongchamps specify the roof to be constructed of Niagara Tile. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Creator: Frederic DeLongchamps Date: 1910
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. Source: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries
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.” Source: Dick Dreiling
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. Source: Dick Dreiling Date: 1943
Western Pacific 2-8-0 in July 1939
Western Pacific 2-8-0 in July 1939 Western Pacific 2-9-0 #22 ready to depart the Reno depot (seen in the background at the far right) bound for Portola, California. Source: Martin E. Hansen Collection Date: July 1939
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. Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form Date: 1979
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. Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form Date: 1979
Architectural details, 2014
Architectural details, 2014 A close-up view of the depot's west façade shows the Italianate bracketed cornices and lion anchors that previously held chains supporting elaborate canopies. Creator: Alicia Barber Date: 2014
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. Source: City of Reno, Historical Resources Commission
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 Date: 2014
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
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

Location

325 East 4th Street, Reno, NV

Metadata

Alicia Barber, “Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad Depot,” Reno Historical, accessed April 12, 2024, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/52.