San Diego Electric Railway Museum and Depot


Location: National City (7 Miles / 10 Minutes South of Downtown San Diego)

Hours: 9AM – 5PM Thursdays through Sundays

Cost: Free

Features: Restored 1882 Santa Fe Station is the Oldest Railroad Structure in San Diego; Vintage Trolleys and Electric Rail Cars

national-city-depotNational City Depot Museum Highlights: The San Diego Electric Railway Association has collected hundreds of antique electric rail cars. Most of them are in the process of being restored at the San Diego Rail Yard. However, a few of the old electric railcars that have been collected are on display at the restored National City Depot. The Depot was built in 1882 and served as the western terminus of the Santa Fe Railroad. Santa Fe’s first transcontinental train journey left National City on November 14, 1885. The Depot is a National Historic Landmark and now home to a museum, a 1917 Trolley from Bellingham, Washington, which was used for a while at San Diego’s former Spaghetti Factory, and three street cars from Vienna Austria. (Read more about these antique electric cars.)

Plan about a half hour to an hour for your visit. You will get to explore the history of electric streetcars and railroads in San Diego with the help of volunteers. There are artifacts from the original Train Depot, train videos, photographs, maps of train routes from the early 20th century, and out-of-print classic books about trains. Books and train souvenirs can be purchased in the gift shop. One of the books available was written by a docent you may meet at the Museum. Railroad Stations of San Diego County Then and Now by Jim Price details all of the existing railroad depots in San Diego and how to visit them.

The Museum is also home to an O-Scale model train display, which is operated by local train enthusiasts on Saturday and Sundays. You can also bring your own O-Gage Train to run on the track.

electric-railway-museumHistory – San Diego was home to a streetcar system from 1891 to 1949. The San Diego Railway Association is dedicated to preserving that history. Visit the Association’s History Page for access to articles on San Diego’s original streetcars and information on how you can help them restore more rail cars.

Food – If you head east on Marina Bay Drive, you will find several, mostly fast food, restaurants just a few blocks away on the other side of highway I-5. One recommendation for out-of-town visitors is grabbing a hamburger at Southern California’s famous In-N-Out Burger.

Information on Visiting the San Diego Electric Railway Museum

Admission Prices: (Costs are Approximate)

  • Parking is Free
  • Entrance is Free

Directions from Google Maps to 922 West 23rd Street in National City, CA 91950. (Warning, Google Maps directs you to make a right turn onto Harrison Avenue from Bay Marina Drive. Harrison Avenue no longer exists. Instead, make a right turn on Marina Way.  Once you make a right turn on Marina Way, the Museum will be 100 yards down on your left side.

Traffic – Travel to National City is relatively easy during the standard Museum hours.

Transit – The Blue Trolley Line takes you to the 24th Street Trolley Station, which is under a quarter mile east of the Museum. (See San Diego Transit Information for access to the Trolley Maps and the online Transit Planner. When using the Online Transit Planner use W 23rd Street instead of West 23rd.)

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: Nostalgia & Western Frontier, South Bay, Trains & Railroads |

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