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Members of the Feather River Rail Society provided a drawing of what the proposed Whitman Multi-Purpose Building would look like during a presentation to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 15. Design submitted

Supervisors back new railroad building design, concept in Portola

The Feather River Rail Society has gained the support of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors in its efforts to expand and improve the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola.

That decision came Oct. 15 after representatives of the railroad museum organization approached the board with its proposal.

Attracting tourism is important to the county’s economic growth, supervisors recognized in a letter to Union Pacific Railroad. The expansion and development proposal is dependent on the approval of Union Pacific that controls the railroad yard in Portola.

Members of the Feather River Rail Society have plans to construct the Whitman Multi-Purpose Building on the site of the existing museum grounds. It would open new markets for events that have been previously unavailable to the railroad museum. It would also provide improvements to the existing railroad museum.

And there’s a bonus plan for the proposed new building. In the event of a disaster, the new facility could be used as an evacuation center.

Proposed structure

If Union Pacific gives the go-ahead with the new Whitman Building, it would be a climate-controlled facility capable of exhibiting 10 to 16 pieces of historic rail equipment, according to information from the rail society.

The facility would also be available for community events and function as a disaster evacuation center.

The name of the proposed structure is in honor of Frederick Whitman, president of Western Pacific during its most successful years.

The design of the building is after the former ferry terminal Western Pacific originally built in Oakland. It even included a large red neon sign spelling out the railroad’s name on the roof at the structure’s entrance.

The facility will have 20,000 square feet of open space allowing for activities and displays.

Funding for construction of the facility or repairs to the existing museum was not discussed during the meeting.

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