The childhood home of country music legend Merle Haggard was recently moved from its Oildale location to the Kern County Museum. The home is a converted boxcar that Haggard was born in back in 1937. The family learned of the boxcar from a fellow church member, who asked Merle’s Father, James Haggard, if he thought he could turn a surplus refrigerated train car she owned into a home.
“The walls were thick: cool in the summer and warm in winter,” Lillian Haggard Rea, the musician’s 93-year-old sister, recalled of the boxcar that their father, James Haggard, a carpenter with the Santa Fe railroad, converted by hand during the Depression. It was, she said, “just a wonderful home to live in.”
The house, which was still occupied, was covered under a tangle of vines. The campaign to “Save Hag’s Boxcar” is a recognition of the role of the house and the railroad in Mr. Haggard’s career, as well as a nod to the collective ingenuity of Depression-era craftsmen like his father.
Mr. Haggard was born in Bakersfield and grew up in Oildale, the tracks a formative experience of his youth. Mr. Haggard, who lives with his family 450 miles to the north, near Lake Shasta, thanked folks in attendence for their support.
97.9 Bear Radio thanks the New York Times and Bakersfield Now for content in this story