Frank the Trainman mural Train of Wisdom.

A mural titled Train of Wisdom, painted in 1989 by local Chicano artist Mario Torero and students from O’Farrell High School of Performing Arts and Roosevelt Junior High School, decorates the back side of a building located on the northwest corner of Park and El Cajon Boulevard.

Today very few people venture around the building to enjoy the faded 100-foot-long, 40-foot-high mural, which depicts a colorful train driven by young people. Optimistic symbolism fills the mural. On the south end of the building, astute passersby will see the historic, animated neon Frank the Trainman sign at the top of a flight of stairs, which form the mural’s triangular cowcatcher.

This was the original location of the Frank the Trainman model railroad store, which Frank Cox opened in the 1940s. He eventually retired and passed his business on to fellow model train buff Jim Cooley, who sold the property to Mission Federal Credit Union in 1987. To honor the history of Frank the Trainman, the architectural firm of Bradshaw and Bundy altered the building’s exterior into the outline of a locomotive, and the Train of Wisdom was subsequently painted.

(Jim moved the original train store to today’s location just down Park Boulevard and added to it his own unique collectibles museum, which includes some extremely rare antique automobiles. I blogged about that here.)

I walked behind the building yesterday and took the following photographs of the large, nearly 30 year old mural, to help preserve a little bit of San Diego history…

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Richard Schulte

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

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