Visitors to the Tehachapi Loop will soon have the pleasure of viewing the landmark after a fundraiser secured funds to build a platform at the historic site.
According to Friends of the Tehachapi Depot board member Keith Sackewitz, who conceived the Overlook project and diligently pursued it, a total of $100,000 was raised to build the platform.
Construction for the new platform broke ground June 21, and should be completed by the end of the summer.
Each year, thousands of visitors come to the area to visit the Tehachapi Loop.
"It is a hundred and some odd years old, still in use in the same place," Sackewitz said.
Located near Keene, the Tehachapi Loop is a railroad engineering feature in which the tracks pass over themselves in a circular loop to allow trains to gain elevation in a steep area without exceeding a 2.2 percent grade.
The Overlook will provide visitors with a safe way to view the site, which has been missing all these years on the curving, mountain pass.
Sackewitz said the Overlook platform will push the existing monuments back 40 or so feet so that viewing can be done safely without visitors having to stand in the roadway.
"They are going to be off of the road and in a fenced-in area. We hope this will be just another jewel in Kern County," Sackewitz said.
The city of Tehachapi pitched in funds, as did other donors. Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner pledged $10,000 toward the project.
"I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we have received from our community and corporate partners, and I’m particularly proud of the effort my field representative, Laura Lynn Wyatt, has put into organizing the fundraising effort, so I wanted to make a substantial contribution to the project to demonstrate my commitment to the effort," Scrivner said.
According to FOTD President Steve Smith, the new viewing platform will not only provide a much safer place, but will also be an attractive and welcoming place for visitors to view trains passing over the Loop.
"Tehachapi receives quite a large number of out-of-state and foreign tourists passing through the area and stopping in our town, and many of them visit the Tehachapi Loop," Smith said. "Many of these visitors travel on to visit our museum and do business in our town. The new viewing platform will show that we care for our visitors and the positive impression this generates will carry over to our community as well."