Brawley railroad depot reaches the end of the line



Union Pacific tears down the historic Brawley depot Saturday April 25.


BRAWLEY – The old abandoned railroad depot located near the Brawley Fire Station No. 1 for years was torn down Saturday, April 25.

Recently, Union Pacific Railroad has removed unused or abandoned buildings across the country, citing safety issues with vandalism and transients in some areas.

The former Southern Pacific Railway depot stood by the now active Union Pacific tracks. Brawley was a spur of the main line that went from Niland all the way to Calexico.

This structure was the former Railway Express Agency building that was once attached to a much larger colonnade-style depot similar to what was demolished several years ago in El Centro.

The express building was completed the end of May in 1928 and was 27’x105’5″ in size.  It served as part of a larger depot structure, also completed by the Southern Pacific in 1928.

The California Public Utilities Commission authorized the Railway Express Agency to close its agency station at Brawley on February 18, 1958 and continue service with trucks from El Centro. On February 26, 1958, a Trailer on Flat Car (TOFC) ramp was opened at Brawley, which served until its abandonment on September 20, 1967.

The 87 year-old building later became the location of Brawley resident Randy Heath’s entomology service for a number of years, according to Lupe Navarro, a local businessman. It was called G.R Heath Entomology.

“Heath had trouble getting his entomology forms printed and decided to start printing his own,” said Navarro. “Word got out that he was printing, and others began to come to Heath for their printing needs. C & R Printing was born. The C & R stood for Carol and Randy. Carol was Heath’s wife.”

Navarro worked for Heath as a printer and eventually went on to open his own printing company, Plaza Printers.




  1. It’s incorrect to refer to the former Railway Espress building as a “freight depot.” On the Southern Pacific, buildings used for express shipments were usually separate from freight depots (the later had loading docks that were at the height of freight car floors. Express depots were usually at ground level).

  2. Noooooooo! It is such a shame how little value is put into historic preservation in the Imperial Valley. Historic structures help a community maintain a unique sense of place and identity that can not be replicated. This building would’ve been a wonderful opportunity for adaptive reuse, albeit with extensive restoration. But we need maintain what little pieces of local history that we have left.

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