People ride cool “live steam” trains in San Diego!

A "live steam" enthusiast watches folks ride a small train through Rohr Park, in San Diego's South Bay.
A “live steam” enthusiast watches families ride a small train through Rohr Park, in San Diego’s South Bay.

This is beyond cool!

The Chula Vista Live Steamers is a club in San Diego’s South Bay. Members build and operate their own small “live steam” trains that people can actually ride!

These friendly hobbyists utilize an elaborate network of miniature train tracks in a public park; the layout is called the Sweetwater and Rohr Park Railroad. During public run days, which take place in Bonita’s grassy Rohr Park one Saturday and Sunday of each month, anyone can watch or ride the small trains! Or if you’re inclined, join and become a member! If you have kids, visit their website, and you can schedule birthday parties!

Today I spotted one steam and one diesel locomotive (which is actually powered by gasoline). It’s winter, so things are bit slow. On Labor Day, I was told, a gigantic railroading extravaganza takes places, with many different trains running simultaneously! If you’re a kid (or a kid at heart), I can only imagine how utterly fantastic it would be!

Whether you’re a railfan, a model train enthusiast, a maker, a dreamer, or just like to see something really unique and fun, head down to join in the action and you’ll have a great time!

Should you walk down this path through Rohr Park in Bonita, you'll eventually come upon something really cool and amazing.
Should you walk down this path through Rohr Park in Bonita, you’ll eventually come upon something really cool and amazing.
Run days for The Chula Vista Live Steamers are usually the 2nd Saturday and Sunday of each month. On Labor Day there's a huge event with many trains operating.
Run days for The Chula Vista Live Steamers are usually the 2nd Saturday and Sunday of each month. On Labor Day there’s a huge event with many trains operating.
Adults love riding the trains just as much as kids. Hobbyists build and maintain the rail cars and working locomotives, and haul them to the park for some fun.
Adults love riding the trains just as much as kids. Hobbyists build and maintain the rail cars and working locomotives, and haul them to the park for some fun.
Thrilled kids ride behind a small diesel locomotive, which is actually powered by gasoline. The tracks looping through the park provide a fun, scenic ride.
Thrilled kids ride behind a small “diesel locomotive”, which is actually powered by gasoline. The tracks looping through the park provide a fun, scenic ride.
Here comes the same train. The Bonita Golf Course is in the distance, beyond the tracks.
Here comes the same train. The Bonita Golf Course is in the distance, beyond the tracks.
This working steam locomotive is a very cool sight. But it's so small that folks at a nearby picnic table seem to be giants.
This working steam locomotive is a very cool sight. But it’s so small that folks at a nearby picnic table seem to be giants.
This tiny train is part of the National City and Otay Railway!
This tiny train is part of the National City and Otay Railway!
A close-up photo of the live steam locomotive. In every detail, it seems a perfect reproduction of a full-size engine.
A close-up photo of the live steam locomotive. In every detail, it seems a perfect reproduction of a full-size engine.
Dedicated train hobbyists have gathered on the surprisingly large rail yard to watch the steam locomotive.
Dedicated train hobbyists have gathered on the surprisingly large rail yard to enjoy the steam locomotive.
This caboose in the rail yard seems to be occupied by the Creature from the Black Lagoon!
This caboose in the rail yard seems to be occupied by the Creature from the Black Lagoon!
A pair of tracks head for a good quarter mile along the edge of the Bonita Golf Course. You can see railroad crossings and a few small bridges!
A pair of tracks head for a good quarter mile along the edge of the Bonita Golf Course. You can see railroad crossings and a few small bridges!
Occasionally, trains will run down the length of the golf course to another loop.
Occasionally, trains will run down the side of the golf course to another loop.
An actual working railway turntable! This area is where steam locomotives are fired up and build up steam pressure before running. The turntable is very busy on Labor Day!
An actual working railway turntable! This area is where steam locomotives build up steam pressure before running. The turntable is very busy on Labor Day!
Checking out a super cool locomotive operated by a member of the Chula Vista Live Steamers!
Checking out a super cool locomotive operated by a member of the Chula Vista Live Steamers!

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Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

11 thoughts on “People ride cool “live steam” trains in San Diego!”

    1. I’ve always wondered why trains are so fascinating to so many. I’m a bit smitten myself. Perhaps it has something to do with the idea of rumbling power, and forward motion down one’s chosen track.

      Like

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