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!

A walk around the Escondido History Center.

People in Grape Day Park head toward buildings that are part of the Escondido History Center's Heritage Walk.
People in Grape Day Park head toward buildings that are part of the Escondido History Center’s unique Heritage Walk.

Last weekend I enjoyed a fascinating walk around the Escondido History Center!

Several original and reconstructed buildings operated by the Escondido History Center form the Heritage Walk at the north end of Grape Day Park. Anyone who is curious can freely visit the Bandy Blacksmith & Wheelwright Shop, the Penner Barn, the Victorian House, the City’s First Library, and an excellent museum inside Escondido’s old Santa Fe Depot. A very cool Pullman railroad car parked nearby contains a large model train layout!

While I really enjoyed my visit, I still don’t know much about the history of Escondido, so please visit the Escondido History Center’s informative website here.

Come along with me as we head down the Heritage Walk. We’ll make several interesting discoveries!

(Click the photos of signs and they will enlarge for easier reading.)

The functioning Bandy Blacksmith and Wheelwright Shop beckons.
The functioning Bandy Blacksmith and Wheelwright Shop beckons. (It was closed the day I visited.)
The 1947 Bandy Blacksmith Shop was reconstructed in Grape Day Park in 1993. The building is used today for education and blacksmithing demonstrations.
The 1947 Bandy Blacksmith Shop was reconstructed in Grape Day Park in 1993. The building is used today for education and blacksmith demonstrations.
As we continue down the Heritage Walk, the Penner Barn and nearby windmill come into view.
As we continue down the Heritage Walk, the Penner Barn and nearby windmill come into view.
The Penner Barn at Escondido's Heritage Walk.
The Penner Barn at Escondido’s Heritage Walk.
The 1907 Penner Barn was reconstructed here in 1976 using the original exterior siding and doors. It's now used by the Escondido History Center for special events.
The 1907 Penner Barn was reconstructed here in 1976 using the original exterior siding and doors. It’s now used by the Escondido History Center for special events.
Looking backward through the windmill, we see an old tractor parked in front of the Penner Barn.
Looking backward through the windmill, we see a vintage Caterpillar tractor parked in front of the Penner Barn.
The Victorian House is furnished authentically and open to the public for tours. (I didn't go inside the day I visited.)
The Victorian House is furnished as it might have been a century ago. It is open to the public for tours. (I didn’t go inside the day I visited.)
The Victorian Country House is an 1890 Queen Anne style farmhouse that was moved to this location by the Escondido Historical Society.
The Victorian Country House is an 1890 Queen Anne style farmhouse that was moved to this location by the Escondido Historical Society.
A small tour group assembles on the front porch.
A small tour group assembles on the front porch of the transplanted farmhouse.
This small building was the very first library in Escondido.
This modest building was the very first library in Escondido.
Escondido's First Library opened in 1895. In 1971 the Escondido Historical Society saved it from demolition and moved it to Grape Day Park.
Escondido’s First Library opened in 1895. In 1971 the Escondido Historical Society saved it from demolition and moved it to Grape Day Park.
Escondido's original public library is now headquarters for the Escondido History Center.
Escondido’s original public library is now headquarters for the Escondido History Center.
Sign details the mission and work of the Escondido History Center, formerly the Escondido Historical Society, which was founded in 1956.
Sign details the mission and work of the Escondido History Center, formerly the Escondido Historical Society, which was founded in 1956.
A time capsule buried under the Heritage Walk is to be opened in 2076.
A time capsule buried under the Heritage Walk is to be opened in 2076.
The handsome old Santa Fe Depot was moved to Grape Day Park in 1984. It houses the main museum of the Escondido History Center.
The handsome old Santa Fe Depot was moved to Grape Day Park in 1984. It houses the main museum of the Escondido History Center.
The platform side of the historic train depot, complete with Western Union sign and vintage luggage cart.
The platform side of the historic train depot, complete with Western Union sign and vintage baggage cart.
Exhibits inside the old train depot concern local history, from the Native American Kumeyaay who lived off the land, through Escondido's development as a town.
Exhibits inside the old train depot concern local history, from the Native American Kumeyaay who lived off the land, through Escondido’s development as a town.
A vintage photograph on one wall shows Escondido's Santa Fe Depot.
A black-and-white photograph on one wall shows Escondido’s Santa Fe Depot.
Parked next to the depot's passenger platform is railroad car number 92, built by the Pullman Company in the 1920s.
Parked next to the depot’s passenger platform is railroad car number 92, built by the Pullman Company in the 1920s.
Inside the railroad car is a huge model train layout that kids love!
Inside the railroad car is a huge, detailed model train layout that kids love!
Sacks of mail were transported at one end of the railroad car.
Sacks of mail were transported at one end of the railroad car.
Visitors to the old railroad car hang out and enjoy another facet of Escondido's fascinating history!
Visitors inside the old railroad car relax and enjoy another facet of Escondido’s fascinating history!

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!

Help students learn about San Diego history!

Help our students discover the past.
Help our students discover the past.

Do you love San Diego? Your help is needed!

The Old Town San Diego Foundation is raising funds so that Fourth Grade students across San Diego County can continue taking educational field trips to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. The San Diego History Program helps kids learn about San Diego’s unique, culturally diverse early history. But financial assistance is urgently needed!

I found out about this program today while walking about Old Town’s Founders Day event. I learned thousands of students have been fortunate to enjoy these field trips in past years. Fourth graders visit Old Town’s interactive museums and enjoy special docent led tours.

The nice folks of the Old Town San Diego Foundation explained that without this program, many young people would probably never visit the birthplace of San Diego and California.

Often kids who participate are so amazed by what they discover, they bring their families back to Old Town! How cool is that?

But funds are now needed to continue this program.

Please visit the Old Town San Diego Foundation website here to learn more.

And please visit the “4th Graders Need Your Help” GoFundMe page here to make your contribution! Donations are 100% tax deductible.

(I know that some educators follow this blog. Spread the word!)

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!

Balboa Park’s fantastic Toy Train Gallery!

One of my favorite attractions in Balboa Park is the absolutely huge, incredible San Diego Model Railroad Museum. And my favorite room in the museum is the fantastic Toy Train Gallery!

Check out these quick photos of the gallery’s super fun toy train layout operated by the San Diego 3-Railers Club!

The colorful layout features O-Scale Lionel-type trains running through a world full of sound and movement. Signs and billboards light up. Cars pull in and out of driveways. People move back and forth. Ghostbusters contend with a rampaging Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

A Choo-Choo Cam lets visitors experience an engineer’s perspective as one model train passes through tunnels, over bridges, and past nostalgic, often humorous scenery. The view is sure to delight children . . . and the child that hopefully remains within each of us!

If you or your family would like to visit the very cool San Diego Model Railroad Museum and their fantastic Toy Train Gallery, you can learn more here.

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!

Great writing, reading celebrated at TwainFest!

Giant puppets representing Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe roam Old Town San Diego State Historic Park during 2019 TwainFest!
Giant puppets representing Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe roam Old Town San Diego State Historic Park during 2019 TwainFest!

Today I enjoyed one of my very favorite San Diego events. I headed to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park for a celebration of great writing and reading at 2019 TwainFest!

Literature is the focus of this annual festival–the most famous 19th century literature and writers in particular. Produced by Write Out Loud, TwainFest features live readings, performances, period music and costumes, games, and a variety of fun activities for the entire family.

Kids not only develop an appreciation for classic books, but they experience the joy of creativity!

Here comes a tall Mark Twain puppet walking through Old Town San Diego!
Here comes a tall Mark Twain puppet walking through Old Town San Diego!
A noon parade circles the Old Town plaza during 2019 TwainFest, where great writers and reading are celebrated!
A noon parade circles the Old Town plaza during 2019 TwainFest, where great writers and reading are celebrated!
Many characters in 19th century period costume could be spotted at the annual event.
Many characters in 19th century period costume could be spotted at the annual event.
Musical entertainment on the main stage. Fiesta de Reyes presents TwainFest by Write Out Loud. Laughter, Levity and Literature.
Musical entertainment on the main stage. Fiesta de Reyes presents TwainFest by Write Out Loud. Laughter, Levity and Literature.
This sea captain might have been an acquaintance of Herman Melville. He has been joined by Lewis Carroll's Red Queen.
This salty Captain Swordfish might have been an acquaintance of Moby Dick author Herman Melville. He has been joined by Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen.
I met Walt Whitman, who told me this is his first time at TwainFest.
I met poet Walt Whitman, who told me this is his first time at TwainFest.
One of many fun games at TwainFest. Spinning the Wheel of Fiction, in order to solve a literary clue.
One of many fun games at TwainFest. Spinning the Wheel of Fiction, in order to solve a literary clue.
Characters and scenes from Mark Twain's stories could be colored, like The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.
Characters and scenes from Mark Twain’s stories could be colored, like The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.
Anyone could walk up, grab a marker, and help write several Never Ending Stories.
Anyone could walk up, grab a marker, and help write several Never Ending Stories.
A performance of a magical folk tale in the Japanese Kamishibai tradition.
A performance of a magical folk tale in the Japanese Kamishibai tradition.
Lively music from 19th century San Diego adds life to the cultural event.
Lively music from 19th century San Diego adds life to the cultural event.
Some fun musical accompaniment nearby.
Some fun musical accompaniment nearby.
Kids were learning how to play drums and the fife.
Kids were learning how to play drums and the fife.
The young and the young at heart could play Victorian era games on the grass, including wheelbarrow races, sack races, egg races and the game of graces.
The young and the young at heart could play Victorian era games on the grass, including wheelbarrow races, sack races, egg races and the game of graces.
A crazy wheelbarrow race is underway. It's hard not to fall out when you turn!
A crazy wheelbarrow race is underway. It’s hard not to fall out when your driver abruptly turns!
Visitors to TwainFest could learn how to make simple books by folding paper and applying fancy cover designs with a glue stick.
Visitors to TwainFest could learn how to make simple books by folding paper and applying fancy cover designs with a glue stick.
Of course, a literature themed event must include lots of classic books.
Of course, a literature themed event must include lots of classic books.
Shelves full of books!
Shelves full of books!
Some history reenactors had set up a Civil War era field encampment.
Some history reenactors had set up a Civil War era field encampment.
Union soldiers in uniform appear at attention.
Union soldiers in uniform appear at attention.
The nearby Headquarters Post Office contained more costumed participants.
The nearby Headquarters Post Office contained more costumed participants.
A working telegraph was on display.
A working telegraph was on display.
While walking about, I noticed many smiling volunteers handing out TwainFest programs.
While walking about, I noticed many smiling people handing out TwainFest programs. (I’m sure Write Out Loud always welcomes new volunteers.)
Stories were being told at the Casa de Estudillo about immigrants, the descendants of early California, and the road to women's suffrage.
Stories were being told at the Casa de Estudillo about immigrants, the descendants of early California, and the road to women’s suffrage.
At the Old Town Courthouse Museum, people could take a literacy test to see whether they could vote in the election of 1872.
At the Old Town Courthouse Museum, people could take a literacy test to see whether they could vote in the election of 1872.
Political illustrations and cartoons from print over a century ago.
Political illustrations and cartoons from print over a century ago.
Young people were enjoying a Mad Hatter tea party, with Alice and other Wonderland characters!
Young people were enjoying a Mad Hatter tea party, with Alice and other Wonderland characters!
It appeared that some people had already painted Tom Sawyer's fence with whitewash!
It appeared that some people had already painted Tom Sawyer’s fence with whitewash!
Is that the Red Queen or the Queen of Hearts? I get them confused.
Is that the Red Queen or the Queen of Hearts? I get them confused.
Don't be an idiom. (You probably don't want to be an oxymoron either.)
Don’t be an idiom. (You probably don’t want to be an oxymoron either.)
More dramatic words were being read inside Old Town's one room Mason Street Schoolhouse. I recognized funny passages from Tom Sawyer.
More dramatic words were being read inside Old Town’s one room Mason Street Schoolhouse. I recognized those funny wart-cure passages from Tom Sawyer.
A puppet show delights kids in Old Town's plaza.
A puppet show delights kids in Old Town’s plaza.
The smiles go on and on during TwainFest...
The smiles and good times live on and on during TwainFest…
...thanks in part to this amiable if somewhat satirical fellow.
…thanks in part to this amiable if somewhat satirical fellow.

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!

Student posters celebrate Freedom of Speech.

Free Speech, Press and Society.
Free Speech, Press and Society.

I was making my way through downtown this morning when I spotted something important that I’d like to blog.

As I walked past the Edward J. Schwartz United States Courthouse, I noticed a new crop of student posters has appeared in the building’s windows. These posters were submitted by local kids for the San Diego County Bar Association’s 2019 Law Week Poster and Video Contest.

The theme this year is Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society.

We the People...
We the People…
Natural Rights. First Amendment.
Natural Rights. First Amendment.
Free As a Bird. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
Free As a Bird. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Freedom. Rights. Responsibility.
Freedom. Rights. Responsibility. May all our voices be heard!
Express your opinion. Peacefully protest or assemble.
Express your opinion. Peacefully protest or assemble.
Liberty requires freedom of expression for everybody.
Liberty requires freedom of expression for everybody.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is vitally important to me. I’m a writer.

If you value individual liberty and a free and open society, its protections are fundamental.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Third grade students create self-portrait quilts!

Last Tuesday I headed to Liberty Station to check out a cool exhibition at IDW’s Comic Art Gallery before the start of Comic-Con. I arrived half an hour before the gallery opened, so I moseyed around Liberty Station’s beautiful park-like setting.

I walked by the Visions Art Museum and poked my nose inside.

There I discovered something inspiring! One of the museum’s walls featured a display of small quilts made by third grade students who attend Perkins Elementary School in Barrio Logan. (About a year ago I photographed part of this school’s outdoor mural.)

Their teacher, who was sitting at the Vision Art Museum’s front desk, briefly told me her students, some of whom are homeless, were super excited to create this artwork. They drew the design first, then cut out pieces of colorful fabric, which they assembled into expressive self-portraits!

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!