Photos of San Diego and Arizona Railway centennial!

People gather for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the San Diego and Arizona Railway at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo.
People gather for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the San Diego and Arizona Railway at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo.

Yesterday I attended an extraordinary event. The 100th Anniversary of the San Diego and Arizona Railway was celebrated at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo!

Hundreds came out to the museum to enjoy special attractions, historical displays and old-time entertainment. Almost everybody rode an excursion train through the nearby countryside (you can see photos of the ride here) before gathering for lunch and a gold spike ceremony that reenacted much of the original ceremony a century ago.

Please enjoy the following photographs. Read the captions if you’d like to learn a little more about the history of the San Diego and Arizona Railway. (Click the images of signs and they’ll enlarge for easier reading.)

Many signs, plaques and historical markers can be found throughout the railroad museum's grounds.
Many signs, plaques and historical markers can be found throughout the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum’s grounds.
In 1916 rails reached Campo on the last transcontinental railway link built in the United States. The line was completed in 1919. The line was eventually purchased by MTS to gain right-of-way for the San Diego Trolley in the city of San Diego.
In 1916 rails reached Campo on the last transcontinental railway link built in the United States. The line was completed in 1919. The line was eventually purchased by MTS to gain right-of-way for the San Diego Trolley in the city of San Diego.
Visitors wait in line at the old Campo depot to pick up tickets for a train ride during the centennial event.
Visitors wait in line at the museum’s old Campo depot to pick up tickets for a train ride during the centennial event.
Heading around the old Campo depot toward the passenger platform.
Heading around the Campo depot toward the passenger platform.
Gazing out at a few of the many old rail cars owned by the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum.
Gazing out at a few of the many old rail cars owned by the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum.
Visitors check out a caboose and more railroad cars to one side of the historic Campo train depot.
Visitors check out a caboose and more railroad cars to one side of the historic Campo train depot.
A simulated hobo camp and interesting sign attract the attention of one gentleman.
A simulated hobo camp and interesting sign attract the attention of one gentleman.
Hobo code used symbols made with chalk or coal to provide directions and warnings to other hobos.
Hobo code used symbols made with chalk or coal to provide directions and warnings to other hobos.
A recreated hobo encampment with campfire.
A recreated hobo encampment with campfire.
On December 14, 1906 John D. Spreckels, with his brother Adolph, announced his intent to construct a railroad from San Diego to Yuma, Arizona.
On December 14, 1906 John D. Spreckels, with his brother Adolph, announced his intent to construct a railroad from San Diego to Yuma, Arizona.
On October 2, 1916 the first passenger trains to Campo were initiated. On November 15, 1919 the Gold Spike Limited brought dignitaries to Carriso Gorge siding. The Impossible Railroad was completed!
On October 2, 1916 the first passenger trains to Campo were initiated. On November 15, 1919 the Gold Spike Limited brought dignitaries to Carriso Gorge siding. The Impossible Railroad was completed!
On February 5, 1950 the first diesel-electric locomotive pulled a freight train over the mountains, in place of a steam locomotive.
On February 5, 1950 the first diesel-electric locomotive pulled a freight train over the mountains, in place of a steam locomotive.
Checking out history at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, with its extensive collection of railroad rolling stock.
Checking out history at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, with its extensive collection of railroad rolling stock.
The Chula Vista Live Steamers were present for the event. They brought some of their 7.5 inch gauge operating steam trains.
The Chula Vista Live Steamers were present for the event. They brought some of their 7.5 inch gauge operating steam trains.
On top of one flatcar is a huge turntable that was used for turning railroad locomotives and cars.
On top of one flatcar is a huge turntable that was once used for turning railroad locomotives and cars.
A cool photo of a nearby Southern Pacific locomotive through the transported turntable.
A cool photo of a nearby Southern Pacific locomotive through the transported turntable.
A sign maps the route of the San Diego and Arizona Railway from San Diego through Mexico to El Centro.
A sign maps the route of the San Diego and Arizona Railway from San Diego through Mexico to El Centro. There are plans to use this line for freight trains once again. There is also talk that a tourist train might in the future run between Tecate, Mexico and Campo, California.
A sign describes two wooden passenger coaches built in the late 19th century. Coach 239 is one of the oldest surviving railroad passenger car artifacts in the West.
A sign describes two wooden passenger coaches built in the late 19th century. Coach 239 is one of the oldest surviving railroad passenger car artifacts in the West.
Visitors check out an enormous old freight car.
Visitors check out an enormous old freight car.
Here comes the San Diego & Arizona Eastern MW 1003 1931 Ford Model AA Rail Fire Engine.
Here comes the San Diego & Arizona Eastern MW 1003 1931 Ford Model AA Rail Fire Engine.
Visitors to the event check out a working 1902 American steam fire engine.
Visitors to the event check out a working 1902 American steam fire engine.
The American was built in 1902 by the American Fire Engine Company. It was restored with the help of the California State Firefighters' Association, and is now valued at over half a million dollars.
The American was built in 1902 by the American Fire Engine Company. It was restored with the help of the California State Firefighters’ Association, and is now valued at over half a million dollars!
People check out some of the railroad equipment on display on the museum grounds.
People check out some of the railroad equipment on display on the museum grounds.
Reading a sign by the railway Section House, where railroad workers were housed along the track.
Reading a sign by the railway Section House, where railroad workers were housed along the track.
Passengers disembark from the day's first excursion train and arrive at the outdoor venue for the gold spike event, near the museum's Display Building.
Passengers disembark from the day’s first excursion train and arrive at the outdoor venue for the gold spike event, near the museum’s Display Building.
A hay ride pulls up to the Display Building area.
A hay ride pulls up to the Display Building area.
Dr. Solar was entertaining kids with his magical Good-Time, Sunshine, Traveling Medicine Show.
Dr. Solar was entertaining kids with his magical Good-Time, Sunshine, Traveling Medicine Show.
Dr. Solar holds his applause meter.
Dr. Solar holds his applause meter.
Vintage auto enthusiasts brought their Model A and Model T Fords and Horseless Carriages.
Vintage auto enthusiasts brought their Model A and Model T Fords and Horseless Carriages.
Some cool period costumes!
Some fancy period costumes!
Vintage automobiles and vintage trains!
Vintage automobiles and vintage trains!
People were lined up for lunch near some of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum's many outdoor railroad cars.
People were lined up for lunch near some of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum’s many outdoor railroad cars.
Checking out a very cool old steam locomotive!
Checking out a very cool old steam locomotive!
A little switch engine of the San Diego and Arizona Railway.
A little switch engine of the San Diego and Arizona Railway.
The 100th Anniversary gold spike ceremony is about to begin. A train with red, white and blue bunting on the nearby track will be part of the historical reenactment.
The 100th Anniversary gold spike ceremony is about to begin. A train with red, white and blue bunting on the nearby track will be part of the historical reenactment.
Buffalo Soldiers representing nearby Camp Lockett are the event's color guard.
Buffalo Soldiers representing nearby Camp Lockett are the event’s color guard.
The gold spike ceremony begins.
The gold spike ceremony begins.
Standing for the National Anthem.
Standing for the National Anthem.
The master of ceremonies would introduce numerous present-day dignitaries, and many speeches would follow.
The master of ceremonies would introduce numerous present-day dignitaries, and many speeches would follow.
Native Sons of the Golden West dedicate a plaque celebrating the 100th anniversary of the San Diego and Arizona Railway's completion.
Native Sons of the Golden West dedicate a plaque celebrating the 100th anniversary of the San Diego and Arizona Railway’s completion.
Descendants of John D. Spreckels are asked to stand by Diana Hyatt, President of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association.
Descendants of John D. Spreckels are asked to stand by Diana Hyatt, President of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association.
During the centennial ceremony, the original gold spike from 100 years ago was on display in a glass case nearby.
During the centennial ceremony, the original gold spike from 100 years ago was on display in a glass case nearby.
The original gold spike used to celebrate the completion of the San Diego and Arizona Railway in 1919.
The original gold spike used to celebrate the completion of the San Diego and Arizona Railway in 1919.
The San Diego City Guard Band plays the San Diego Progress March, written for the railway's completion 100 years ago and performed then by the 1919 version of the City Guard Band.
The San Diego City Guard Band plays the San Diego Progress March, written for the railway’s completion 100 years ago and performed then by the 1919 version of the City Guard Band.
The gold spike reenactment begins. Railroad workers arrive by handcar.
The gold spike reenactment begins. Railroad workers arrive by handcar.
The railroad workers carry the last section of track to be laid.
The railroad workers carry the last section of track to be laid.
Reenactment of workers completing a transcontinental railroad route.
Reenactment of workers completing a transcontinental railroad route.
History is remembered in Campo, California.
Railroad history comes to life in Campo, California.
Here come dignitaries from 1919, including San Diego Mayor Wilde and William Kettner.
Here come dignitaries from 1919, including San Diego Mayor Wilde and William Kettner.
Politicians and dignitaries from a century ago seem to return to life during the San Diego and Arizona Railway centennial.
Politicians and dignitaries from a century ago seem to return to life during the San Diego and Arizona Railway centennial. Each would read from the original speeches.
Photographers record history from one side of the gold spike reenactment.
Photographers record today’s history from one side of the gold spike reenactment.
John D. Spreckels arrives from the Gold Spike Limited train.
John D. Spreckels arrives from the Gold Spike Limited train.
The shiny gold spike is put into place.
The shiny gold spike is put into place.
John D. Spreckels, creator of the San Diego and Arizona Railway, hammers the final spike.
John D. Spreckels, creator of the San Diego and Arizona Railway, hammers the final spike.
Those attending the big centennial celebration assemble around the John D. Spreckels reenactor for a photograph.
Those attending the big centennial celebration assemble around the John D. Spreckels reenactor for a photograph.
History is made again on a sunny November day in 2019.
History is made again on a sunny November day in 2019.

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A ride on the San Diego and Arizona Railway!

Today I took a wonderful ride aboard an historic train!

In the morning I drove out to the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo, about an hour east of downtown San Diego, in order experience the 100th Anniversary celebration of the San Diego & Arizona Railway.

Before the gold spike reenactment ceremony took place, I wandered about the extensive museum grounds, enjoying all sorts of nostalgic entertainment and attractions, then boarded an old passenger train at the depot for a short but very scenic excursion!

I took photos as I rode the route of the Golden State west several miles through rocky terrain. The San Diego & Arizona Railway, founded by San Diego entrepreneur and philanthropist John D. Spreckels, earned the name of The Impossible Railroad because of the logistical difficulty of routing a train through this very rugged countryside.

The train’s cars were all packed on this special day, and we were rolling past other old locomotives and railroad cars belonging to the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum before the conductor came down the aisle to collect our round-trip tickets. As you might imagine, kids and families were super excited!

On the way out, I sat in one of the seats on the south side of a coach car. Because my long legs were a bit cramped, and I wanted to see the countryside to the north, I went to the observation car during the return trip. You can see some smoke coming from the diesel locomotive in a couple of my photographs.

Too soon we were once again passing the Gaskill Brothers Stone Store Museum (the distinctive building you see in one photo), crossing over Highway 94, and back at the museum. We continued past the old depot and stopped near the place where the San Diego & Arizona Railway centennial gold spike ceremony would be staged. (I’ll blog about the fantastic event in my next post!)

Should you ever visit the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo, make sure to enjoy a cool train ride!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!