I could happily spend many hours at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. Not only is it the largest such museum in North America, but it features some of the coolest, most realistic model train layouts you’ll ever see!
Located in Balboa Park, the model train museum contains five huge sections. The Cabrillo Southwestern exhibit is in O Scale, the same size as Lionel toy trains. The San Diego and Arizona Eastern, and the Southwestern Pacific-Santa Fe Tehachapi Pass exhibits are both in the popular HO Scale. The Pacific Desert Lines exhibit is in tiny N Scale. Finally, there’s a toy train gallery crammed with Lionel-type trains and many amazing moving accessories, including cars and people. One train is mounted with a Choo-Choo cam which provides an engineer’s moving view of the dazzling layout.
I took lots of pics yesterday afternoon. Many of the shots taken through glass or in darkness didn’t come out so great. But I did get some fairly good ones. Enjoy!
Almost every day this blog post is receiving visitors from Pinterest.
I decided to visit the museum again in May 2017 to get more photos!
The layouts are so huge and detailed it would take some time to describe exactly what the photos depict and from what position they were taken. So I’m just going to insert a bunch of random photos for you all to enjoy.
Feel free to share any of these photos if you’d like. It’s all for fun! And if you ever have a chance, make sure to visit the San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park. The place is truly incredible!
Are you a railroad or streetcar enthusiast? Do you love railway history?
Here are some pics I took Sunday during the second day of Cabrillo National Monument’s centennial celebration.
Cabrillo National Monument is located at the tip of the Point Loma peninsula. The hilly peninsula helps to enclose San Diego Bay and is a perfect lookout over both the ocean and harbor. The park includes most notably the historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse and a statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo that was commissioned by the Portuguese government in 1939. It also includes military bunkers that were used to protect the bay during World War II, and a very popular whale-watching lookout.
The park this year turned one hundred years old. In 1913 Woodrow Wilson reserved a portion of Fort Rosecrans on the Point Loma peninsula for a statue of Cabrillo. Unfortunately, a statue was not immediately forthcoming, and the park’s development became the work of many decades.
The work in progress continues today. My last visit was a few years ago, and this time I noticed many big changes and improvements!
The first photo shows a bunch of people near the Visitor Center, on the walkway that leads out to the Cabrillo statue.
For the centennial event, many community and government organizations had exhibits near the entrance to the Visitor Center. This pic shows what appeared to be the most popular table. The friendly lady had numerous snakes that fascinated young and old alike.
Everybody enjoyed a small slice of birthday cake!
Here’s the iconic statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the Portuguese explorer who sailed into San Diego Bay on behalf of Spain nearly five hundred years ago. It stands not far from the Visitor Center overlooking both the bay and Pacific Ocean.
As I walked up the hill to observe a reenacted air raid drill from World War II, I looked back at this beautiful view. Great views can be had at Cabrillo National Monument looking in almost any direction!
These tents and some nearby vehicles were on display for the centennial. During World War II, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, many feared an attack on San Diego. So defenses were quickly erected. In addition to a number of observation bunkers, a few gun emplacements were situated along the end of Point Loma to defend the mainland and bay.
A small museum nearby includes many photographs, recordings and artifacts from that period in San Diego’s history.
At eleven o’clock, a mock air raid was staged! An aircraft from nearby Naval Air Station North Island swept over the bluffs as World War II veterans and enthusiasts looked on from the hilltop near some old bunkers.
After the air raid, we all took turns going down into Battery E.
We were surprised at what we found! The flash of my camera illuminated the small semi-dark bunker, capturing this instrument used to scan the horizon for Japanese warships during World War II.
Down a nearby ladder was a second small room containing beds for those who stood watch at all hours.
A short distance from Battery E is the historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse. From 1855 to 1891 it stood as a beacon for those entering San Diego Bay, before being replaced by an automated lighthouse down near the water. This old lighthouse is one of San Diego’s most well-known sights!
A small museum near the lighthouse’s entrance is worth a quick look. It includes an amazing Fresnel lens that magnified light to help sailors out at sea.
A large flat area in front of the lighthouse was used by the keeper and his family to capture rainwater. Back then this lighthouse stood isolated, far from the small town across the water that grew into metropolitan San Diego.
Several furnished rooms in the lighthouse are on display behind glass. Very little space was available to accommodate the keeper and his family. In addition to this main room, there’s a kitchen area, closet, and two bedrooms up the winding stairs.
Speaking of the stairs, I couldn’t resist taking this pic!
Another great look.
Interesting sculptures, artwork and signs can be found at the Pacific Ocean overlook. During the winter months, you can see gray whales spouting as they travel between the Arctic and Baja California.
You can see where the tidepools are below. I didn’t go down to the water on this trip, but it’s a fun place to see all sorts of sea creatures!
At noon there was a guided hike down the Bayside Trail. We walked down a short road to the trailhead, where an old military truck waited with some folks dressed in historic uniforms. They would show us some interesting stuff down the trail.
Here we go down the Bayside Trail. The lady park ranger showed us a large number of native plants, including Coastal Sage, Lemonade Berry, Prickly Pear and more. The flora you see here is what is natural to the area. San Diego is located in a semi-arid zone, with very little precipitation. Most of the trees and other plants you see around town are not native.
We’ve come to a small structure built into the hillside that houses an old electric spotlight. The huge lamp was used to watch the San Diego Bay’s entrance during World War II. It rolled out on a pair of tracks and plugged into an outlet that you can see by the trail.
My camera’s flash brightly illuminated the old spotlight inside.
Now we’ve walked down to the electrical generator building–really just two small empty rooms. Usually these structures are closed to the public.
The group turned back, but I walked on…
And I was rewarded with this view. Having lived in San Diego a good many years, I recognized the large sailboat leaving San Diego Bay. It’s the Abracadabra, a boat used in a past America’s Cup. I also spotted the Stars and Stripes, just out of this picture.
Beyond downtown San Diego I could see numerous mountains, from Cuyamaca on down to Otay. When it snows in the mountains, San Diego has a snow-capped backdrop viewed from here!
Every so often a new plane is added to the Midway Museum collection. The historic aircraft carrier USS Midway, active from 1945 to 1992, now has a couple dozen restored airplanes among its exhibits. Today the latest addition was hoisted up onto the dockside elevator by crane from the pier below! I was there to snap a few cool pics!
The last time I saw an airplane brought over from North Island, where the restorations take place, it was by barge. So I was surprised this time when a plane arrived on the back of a truck. This F4F Wildcat is a specimen of the small carrier-based fighter that helped to win the Battle of Midway during World War II. This particular plane was salvaged from the bottom of Lake Michigan. Restoration in a special hangar at Naval Air Station North Island, across San Diego Bay, took three years. You’ll notice the wings are missing from the fuselage. They came in on a second truck!
The first photo shows the Wildcat arriving on the opposite side of Navy pier.
The truck has pulled alongside USS Midway’s dockside elevator, which is lowered and ready to receive the new exhibit.
A small crane waits off to the left to lift the airplane. Here we see some preliminary preparations.
Up it goes! Everybody was extremely careful that no mishaps occurred!
And finally the F4F Wildcat is aboard its new home! This plane will be part of a three dimensional theater exhibit called Battle of Midway Experience. I can’t wait to see it!
Check out these two banners! They’re hanging in the courtyard in front of the Museum of Man, at the west end of El Prado in Balboa Park.
The first advertises an exhibition about the history of beer. Beerology seems to include the study of imbibing pharaohs and thirsty headhunters. Drink up!
The second depicts a chair covered with sharp spikes. Presumably one of those can be found on display in the museum, along with other delightful instruments of torture. A quite memorable cultural experience!
If you’re ever in the Little Italy neighborhood in downtown San Diego, you might want to check out the small but jam-packed Firehouse Museum.
Shiny red fire trucks, interesting historical photos, old fire fighting apparatus, memorabilia and even Smokey Bear are on display. And excited kids can climb into one of the cool fire engines!
This sign by the sidewalk invites tourists and passersby to take a peek into the firehouse.
I took a photo from outside, aiming left.
And then the above photo aiming right.
The next pic was taken on a later day, in the early morning when the museum was still closed…
A plaque appeared on the museum’s exterior in mid to late 2015!
The plaque includes this fascinating information:
In the workshop on this site some of America’s most significant fire service innovations were created by the specialty trade-skilled firefighters who worked here, including the world’s first gas engine powered fireboat, the Bill Kettner. In 1963 the National Fire Protection Association declared the national standard thread the official fire hose thread of the United States of America. The machine which enabled this federal legislation was invented here six years earlier by inventor and battalion chief Robert Ely. The common thread allowed thousands of American firefighters to connect their fire hoses together, allowing them to work as one. As a result, countless lives and priceless amounts of property and the environment have been saved.
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