Photos of National City Depot museum and streetcars!
If you’re a train or streetcar lover, prepare to go nuts! The friendly guys at the National City Depot, which is home to the Trolley and Railroad Museum operated by the San Diego Electric Railway Association, allowed me to take loads of photographs a couple weekends ago! The place is so crammed with cool stuff, I hardly know where to start!
(Before I get started, however, I learned the National City Depot is in desperate need of volunteer docents and cashiers. So if you live around San Diego and have some free time, please consider this opportunity. Railroading enthusiasts would be in heaven. If you’d like, you might actually roll up your sleeves and help work to revitalize several vintage streetcars. You can have a great time preserving and enlivening our local history of trolleys by explaining exhibits and sharing knowledge with curious visitors, tourists and school students. SDERA’s stated mission is to restore and preserve the history of electric railways and trolleys in the San Diego region. Click here for more info.)
As you can see from the first photo, the depot has a number of old railroad cars and streetcars sitting outside on either side of it. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, MTS, has provided the private association with three old Vienna streetcars and one Presidents Conference Committee (PCC) streetcar. The latter is undergoing restoration, and will eventually be used as a cool tourist attraction, running over the Coronado Belt Line of the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railroad!
You might recognize the name San Diego Electric Railway. It was the mass transit system built by locally famous “sugar heir” and entrepreneur John D. Spreckels. His network of railroads was established in 1892, and active streetcars served a large area of the city for many decades. The San Diego Electric Railway Association proudly displays some examples of the rolling stock that were utilized in those glory years of electric streetcars.
The National City Depot has its own fascinating history. It was built in 1882 by the Santa Fe Railroad, and became the first Pacific Coast terminus station of their transcontinental line. Today, it’s the last representative of the original stations built on the West Coast by the five different transcontinental railroads. After various changes in its operations over the decades, the depot was abandoned in the 1960s and suffered severe neglect. Before finally reopening as a museum, it was also used as a unique building for a couple of restaurants. It’s now owned by the city of National City.
I learned so much during my visit, my brain is still whirling. If I’ve captioned the photos incorrectly, or have made some sort of factual error, please leave a comment!
Here come the photos, just a taste of what you might see should you swing on by. Enjoy!
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