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Haggard's childhood home finds new home in Kern County Museum

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Country music legend Merle Haggard watched Wednesday as his childhood home - a converted railroad boxcar - was picked up from nearby Oildale and carried to a new permanent address in the Kern County Museum.

Haggard, 78, spent his formative years in Oildale before becoming an internationally-acclaimed country artist.

A giant crane early Wednesday morning picked up the home from its place in Oildale and drove it down Chester Avenue to a prepared foundation in the museum.

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Law enforcement escorted the large procession through crowds of fans and history buffs as Haggard followed closely behind in his tour bus.

"My father and mother would certainly be surprised to see what's happened with the old box car," Haggard said just before the car was lowered onto the new foundation. "You know it's been the inspiration for more than one song that's been published all over the world."

While certainly a small place to raise a family, the boxcar is large enough to make a move complicated and expensive. Local historians actually created a nonprofit organization in 2008 specifically to raise funds for the project.

Glenda Rankin is the president of Citizens Preserving History.

"We were so determined that this would happen while they (the Haggards) were still here to enjoy it," she said.

Citizens Preserving History will work with the museum to restore the weathered old railroad car to what it looked like when Haggard lived there in the 1930s. They aren't wasting any time. Museum officials today told Eyewitness News they hope to have the exhibit ready for the public by the Fall.

Lillian Haggard Rae, Haggard's sister, can't wait to see it.

"It's a simple, ugly little box car right now and I'm hoping to live long enough to see it restored completely," she said. "And if they can do that, it will be charming."

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