It was a little over two years ago that Keith Sackawitz of Friends of the Depot appeared before a Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council meeting and presented the idea of building a viewing platform at the Loop Overlook on Woodford Tehachapi Road.
More than 12,000 visitors a year go to the Overlook, said Sackawitz, many in tour buses and FOTD felt the narrow road and limited parking area was difficult and dangerous for visitors. The monument itself is too close to the road and in bad repair.
The 144-year-old Loop is known worldwide as one of the seven wonders of the railroad world and currently hosts an average of 38 trains per day. It was opened in 1876 and named a California Historical Landmark in 1953.
That 2018 GTEDC presentation sparked a partnership between the county of Kern and Friends of the Depot that created a project that could be completed in the next year.
Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner appointed local resident Laura Lynne Wyatt to spearhead the project and on Jan. 21, Wyatt told Tehachapi Rotarians that a full fundraising campaign will be unveiled March 6. The campaign has been designed and produced locally, using local talent.
The FOTD has so far raised about $32,000 of the $100,000 needed to complete the $150,000 project. The county of Kern has engineered the widening of the road and donated the concrete and fill dirt needed for the project.
The new viewing platform will be about 30 feet wide, 15 feet deep and hold about 40 people. Stay tuned for further updates.
Pat Doody is a member of the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council.