Seeing the future by looking backward.

These old train tracks pass south over the Sweetwater River on a bridge that is no longer in use.

Do you like ghost stories?

Do you like riding trains?

Answer yes to either question, and you might enjoy a new short story that I published this morning. It’s titled Backward Man.

Is it possible to see the future by looking backward? That seems like a reasonable assertion, right?

If a little strangeness and horror are your cup of tea, you can read the story by clicking here!

Original streetcars from Balboa Park’s 1915 exposition!

Do you want to see an incredible, important part of San Diego history? Then head over to the National City Depot Museum, which is operated by the San Diego Electric Railway Association. Last year they obtained the three only remaining streetcars that operated in the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park!

As you step into the depot museum, you’ll see a sign that describes the history of these historic cars. To summarize:

In 1910 the Class 1 streetcars were designed in San Diego and ordered from the St. Louis Car Company. Twenty four cars were built, and they began operations in San Diego in 1912. These cars would operate on various streetcar lines until 1939.

In 1939, a couple residing in El Cajon bought three streetcars that weren’t scrapped; in 1996 they were acquired by a local antique dealer and moved to storage on Adams Avenue; and in 1997 the cars were designated San Diego Historical Landmark #339.

Between 1997 and 2013 extensive restoration work was performed on car 138 by San Diego Historic Streetcars, as you can see in my photographs. There had been a plan to operate the cars during Balboa Park’s 2015 Exposition Centennial.

Finally, in 2021, the three historic streetcars were donated to the San Diego Electric Railway Association in National City, where the public, on open weekends, can freely observe them up close!

The plan now is to obtain wheels for car 138, and to fully restore the car so that it will endure for future generations.

Anyone who is intrigued by San Diego’s history, and what life might have been like around the time of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, must see these three original streetcars!

With a little imagination, one can picture the colorful cars running up rails that once existed near today’s Park Boulevard, transporting crowds of excited visitors to the exposition grounds!

The book Rails of the Silver Gate by San Diego railroad historian Richard V. Dodge provides a description of cars 125-148.

At the other end of the National City Depot Museum’s large outdoor yard stand the two unrestored streetcars, numbers 126 and 128.

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!

An amazing San Diego museum few know about!

One of San Diego’s most amazing museums is little known to the public. But if you are interested in our city’s history, it’s a place you absolutely must visit!

The San Diego Electric Railway Association’s historic National City Depot museum is positively jam packed with fascinating exhibits. I last visited the old train depot six years ago, and I posted this blog with lots of photos and interesting information. On a whim I swung by the museum yesterday–and was wowed once again!

Display cases are filled with artifacts and ephemera from a century ago when a growing San Diego was crisscrossed with streetcars. And, of course, there are the many outdoor exhibits, including old trolleys, streetcars and railway equipment.

As I entered the depot, my eyes immediately fixed upon something astonishing. A sign described how three of San Diego’s original streetcars were added to the museum last year! I’ll be blogging about that shortly!

If you have kids and need something to do on a weekend, they’ll love the museum. I bet you will, too! And it’s free!

Take a look at just a tiny bit of the San Diego history you’ll see…

There are important out of print reference books available at the museum, too, including one titled Rails of the Silver Gate that I purchased. Published in 1960, it provides a complete detailed history of entrepreneur John D. Spreckels and his creation of the San Diego Electric Railway. The incredible book includes many photos, plus descriptions of every car that ever operated, and route maps that became increasingly extensive over the years!

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!

Sunrise over San Diego’s trolley and rail yard.

I was walking around the San Diego Convention Center this morning, looking for cool stuff popping up for this weekend’s Comic-Con Special Edition, when I had to pause on the Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge and marvel at the brilliant sunrise.

I took these two photos of sunrise above downtown’s trolley and rail yard.

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!

Unique architecture at the Solana Beach train station!

From any angle, the Solana Beach train station appears unusual and interesting. The architecture of this Coaster and Amtrak station makes it one of the most intriguing landmarks in San Diego’s North County.

The Solana Beach station opened in 1994. The building was designed by Rob Wellington Quigley, who is also known for the San Diego Central Library and its iconic dome, The New Children’s Museum, the Ocean Discovery Institute in City Heights, Bayside Fire Station No. 2, and the Beaumont Building in Little Italy. It seems all of his architectural work is just as surprising and visually stimulating.

The last time I rode the Coaster to Solana Beach I walked around the train station, taking these photographs. To my eye, there’s something undefinably attractive about the building’s sharp lines and simple curved shape, and its singular symmetry.

I particularly like the passenger waiting room. Those artfully arranged windows on either side are bright with outdoor sunlight, as if beckoning travelers to venture out into a magical, multi-faceted, welcoming big world.

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!

Working on the trolley tracks at America Plaza.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve noticed that MTS is working on the trolley tracks in and near the America Plaza station. As you can see in the above photo, old wooden railroad ties are being replaced with new concrete ones.

I’ve always loved trains. I did as a kid. I still do today. That’s one reason I like riding the San Diego Trolley.

So it has been fascinating to watch this work whenever I walk through downtown past America Plaza.

It will also be interesting to watch another upcoming project by the Metropolitan Transit System: the America Plaza and Santa Fe Depot Pedestrian Enhancement Project. Navigating between these two adjacent stations will be made easier and more welcoming. I use both stations a lot, so I’m excited!

I took these photos over the last couple weeks. You can see progress is being made as the aging trolley tracks are improved…

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!

Celebrating the trolley’s 40th Anniversary!

Thank you all for transporting me around the city, and for your friendly waves! I’ve loved trains since I was a kid!

A special public event was held today at the E Street trolley station in Chula Vista. The 40th Anniversary of the San Diego Trolley was celebrated!

A big crowd turned out to enjoy free entertainment, food and drink, and booths with transit information. As one might expect, there were also short speeches by city dignitaries, including representatives of the Metropolitan Transit System.

San Diego’s “first” 1981 trolley car–Number 1001–was parked on one of the station’s tracks, right next to several more recent, advanced trolley cars. Good old “1001” is now one of the cars that loop through downtown as part of the Silver Line. (I was told today the Silver Line will be resuming operation next week!)

Back in the 80’s, the first trolleys ran from downtown San Diego to the San Ysidro border crossing. Today, three major lines cover much of the city, and the Blue Line’s Mid-Coast Extension to Mission Bay and La Jolla is scheduled to open in just a few months!

It was interesting to hear in one speech how the trolley might one day be wireless, or even autonomous. Technology is rapidly advancing. It will be fascinating to see what the future brings!

As a very frequent rider of public transit, thank you MTS! If anyone reading my blog wonders how I spy interesting new things, it’s often by looking out a trolley or bus window!

MTS CEO Sharon Cooney addresses the crowd during the 40th Anniversary of the San Diego Trolley. The audience was very enthusiastic!
After the speeches, there was exciting breakdancing!
If one waited in line for a short while, there were oodles of free treats!
The two most recent models of trolley cars at the E Street Station. The 4000’s and 5000’s look pretty similar.
A car from 1981. This particular car, looking very shiny, now transports people around downtown on the Silver Line, along with a couple of older vintage PCC streetcars.

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!

Del Mar history in a pocket park.

A pocket park near the corner of Camino Del Mar and 15th Street features a series of banners that illustrate local history.

Pedestrians coming down the sidewalk have the opportunity to rest and view photos from Del Mar’s past in this quiet nook near L’Auberge Del Mar, across 15th Street from Stratford Square’s distinctive Tudor style building.

Last weekend I enjoyed a look at these fascinating historical images and descriptions, which are provided by the Del Mar Historical Society. I took photographs of the banners, moving from left to right.

Then I spotted a friendly sea lion perched on a nearby bench!

To learn more about Del Mar’s history, including how the North County beach town got its name from a once-popular poem titled “The Fight for Paso Del Mar”, check out this website!

The history of Del Mar begins in 1885 with the new California Southern Railroad, connecting Los Angeles to San Diego. The first hotel, opened in 1886, was Casa Del Mar. The Natatorium at the end of 10th and 11th Street featured a dance pavilion on the beach and a large saltwater swimming pool.
A 1000 foot pier was built in 1912 near the end of 15th Street. When it became too damaged by the passage of time and many storms, it was demolished in 1959 by the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team!
The Hotel Del Mar (originally called the Stratford Inn) attracted the rich and famous after Bing Crosby built the Del Mar Racetrack in 1937. Parties featured entertainers such as Bob Hope, Al Jolson and Danny Thomas. Frequent guests included Buster Keaton, Mickey Rooney, Betty Grable, Lucille Ball, Jimmy Durante and many others.
Photos of celebrities at the Del Mar Racetrack, including Ava Gardner, Ronald Reagan, J. Edgar Hoover, Cary Grant and Red Skelton.
The Stratford Inn opened in 1909 and attracted Hollywood’s silent film stars. It was finally demolished in 1967. The posh L’Auberge Del Mar, which stands on the site now, was featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
This is Sally the Sea Lion!

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!

Holidays arrive at Escondido’s old train depot!

I returned to Escondido yesterday because I wanted to check out an extraordinary mural I’d been told about. During my visit I walked around Grape Day Park, and admired the many holiday decorations that are part of the California Center for the Arts’ outdoor Northern Lights event every evening.

During my daytime stroll through the park, I saw strung lights and Christmas displays and suspended snowflakes and reindeer on the grass that would certainly be very beautiful at night. But my most favorite thing–probably because I like trains–was the historic Escondido Santa Fe Depot and its nearby Pullman Car #92. The holiday decorations at the old railroad station were very unique!

As you can read on one sign that I photographed, the 1888 depot in its heyday “was the nerve center of Escondido, a scene of commercial activity and a social gathering place…The Escondido History Center moved the Santa Fe Depot to Grape Day Park in 1984…”

While the wonderful old train station might no longer be a center for much commercial activity, it definitely remains a social gathering place when the lights come on during the holiday season!

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!

Riding trains, streetcars, and San Diego history.

Like many American cities, San Diego’s dynamic past is filled with all sorts of fascinating trains and streetcars.

Over the years, while exploring San Diego County, I’ve learned much about the local history of rail transportation. I’ve taken photographs while riding an old train through the mountains east of San Diego, while riding a restored streetcar downtown, while visiting several historic stations and depots, and at amazing railroad museums. I even attended the big centennial event of the San Diego and Arizona Railway!

If you love old trains and streetcars, be sure to check out the following blog posts! They contain all sorts of unique photos, and you’ll find a fair amount of interesting historical information.

Click the following links to see many past photographs!

A ride on the San Diego and Arizona Railway!

Photos of San Diego and Arizona Railway centennial!

Cool pics of old La Mesa railroad depot and train!

A short architectural tour of the Santa Fe Depot.

Historical exhibit inside San Diego’s Santa Fe Depot.

Hundred year old photos of Santa Fe Depot.

Photos of National City Depot museum and streetcars!

A peek inside National City’s Historic Railcar Plaza.

Take a cool ride on an old, restored streetcar!

Art and history at Lemon Grove Trolley Depot!

A walk around the Escondido History Center.

Beauty and history in Carlsbad Village.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

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