In 1871, Dr. Burbank successfully cleared title to more than 9,000
acres of land that were known as Rancho San Rafael and Rancho La
Providencia. He knew that trains running through his property would
transform the land from a sleepy sheep and wheat ranch into a
bustling town. In February 1873, he sold Southern Pacific Railroad a
right-of-way to run through his property for $1. Trains were running
by the following year. The trains, as Dr. Burbank had predicted,
catapulted the town into an economic frenzy of activity.
While trains have been running through Burbank since 1874, it was
not until 1929 that Burbank had a grand train depot. Opened in 1929
at a cost of $21,000, the train depot had Spanish Colonial Revival
architecture, a departure from the typical Victorian depots that
dotted the country. It was a grand station for a town that had a
population of just over 16,000 in 1930.
Train depots were important at the time, as they provided people
with their first impressions of their chosen destination. Burbank's
train depot would not disappoint them.
Passengers stepped off the train onto a platform to face a Spanish
stucco building with a red tile roof that included five identical
arches with recessed Palladian windows with elaborate trim. The trim
consisted of lavender, yellow and green glazed tiles. Also found was
a band of acanthus-leaf terra cotta. "Burbank" was painted above the
center arch, which served as the main entrance illuminated by a plain
metal light fixture. The west and east entrances were identical in
Wooden double doors that welcomed people into the spacious waiting
room flanked the main entrance. Diagonally red tiles covered the
floor, and the plaster walls above the wooden paneling were scored to
give the appearance of individual blocks. Terra-cotta trim decorated
the edges of the windows. Comfortable furnishings and a concession
allowed visitors to relax comfortably before or after their journey.
The south wing of the building provided a covered outdoor waiting
area that had three openings facing west, toward the railroad tracks,