The 1935 California Pacific International Exposition was the first time a model train was viewed in Balboa Park, this one built by Minton Cronkite, who at the time was already a legend in the model train world. His replica (or pieces of the replica!) of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad system can still be viewed in the museum today. The model train clubs that arose from that exposition eventually joined forces and found a space to permanently reside in the rebuilt Electric Building after The NAT was burned out and moved to its present location in Balboa Park, all of which led to the formation of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. 1982 was the year the museum opened its doors to crowds of avid model train enthusiasts and never looked back.
Today there are six different permanent exhibits that make their home inside the doors of this unique museum: The San Diego & Arizona (HO scale), the Tehachapi Pass (also HO scale), Cabrillo Southwestern (O scale), Pacific Desert Lines (N scale), Toy Train Gallery (O scale), and the Centennial Railway Gardens, a fleet of light rail streetcars featuring reproductions of the streetcars built in preparation for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. For those interested in educating themselves on model railroads—or full sized ones, for that matter—an on-site library is staffed by knowledgeable and helpful volunteers. You can check out the online card catalog at www.sdmrm.org by clicking on the library link then the online catalog link to get an advance glimpse of what all is available at the library.
Open nearly every day, you can check out admission prices, hours, and directions at the above listed website.
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Visit the San Diego Model Railroad Museum
Address: Balboa Park, 1649 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 696-0199