Peter Lebeck Chapter #1866

The Kern County Chapter of E Clampus Vitus ®
The Southern Pacific Jail
Pioneer Village, Bakersfield - 1971
Plaque Commemorating the Weill Residence Near the Original Site.

This plaque, dedicated June 5, 1971, identifies the Southern Pacific Portable Jail which now makes it retirement at Pioneer Village, on the grounds of the Kern County Museum. The museum address is at 3801 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, California. Its GPS coordinates are 35°23'35.17"N by 119°01'08.88"W.

The Southern Pacific Portable Jail
The Southern Pacific Portable Jail at Pioneer Village.

A most unusual accommodation, the Southern Pacific Portable Jail was built sometime in the 1870's, and was used to house prisoners being taken by rail to the county seat for judgment. It did its duty affixed to the top of a railroad flat car as a sort of paddy wagon on rails, but when its time was up, the little calaboose was forced to do hard time in Delano until sprung by the Kern County Museum and brought to Pioneer Village for its well deserved retirement.

During its time of service the little jail rolled up and down the Southern Pacific tracks as the rail line to Caliente was being completed. On the southern side of the Tehachapis getting prisoners to their destination meant getting them as close to Caliente as possible, and then taking them by horseback up the Caliente-Bodfish Road to the County Courthouse at Havilah. All this was to change in 1884, when the Kern Valley Diggings began to play out and the county seat was transferred to Bakersfield; but even then, the little jail just kept right on rolling.

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The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus®