Links To: The National Model Railroad Association, San Diego Model Railroad Clubs, Railroad Museums & Public Displays, Train Rides, Public Trains & Trolley Service (in San Diego, California, USA)

 

N Scale freight train and layout by Don Fowler, Master Model Railroader®, San Diego Division member.
N Scale freight train and layout by Don Fowler, Master Model Railroader®, San Diego Division member.

Pacific Southwest Region, National Model Railroad Association

 

National Model Railroad Association (NMRA)

 

Modeling diorama by Trudy Seeley, San Diego Division member.
Modeling diorama by Trudy Seeley, San Diego Division member. 
Picture credit: Trudy Seeley.

San Diego Model Railroad Clubs

All Gauge Toy Train Association (AGTTA)
(San Diego, California, USA)
www.agtta.com

The Centennial Railway Garden
(San Diego, California, USA)

  • Located outside and in the back of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.
  • The scale for this layout is Garden Railroad scale. The San Diego Model Railroad Museum maintains this small Garden Scale railroad layout. The exhibit was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Balboa Park in 2015. The G scale garden railroad is modeled after Balboa Park as it existed in 1915.

Chula Vista Live Steamers
(Bonita, California, USA)
www.chulavistalivesteamers.org 

  • Chula Vista Live Steamers, established in January 1974, is a group of people interested in building and operating scale models of real (live steam) machinery. Their engines and associated equipment are usually built and operated by the owner and are maintained by them at their considerable expense of time and money.
La Mesa Model Railroad Club HO scale layout, powered by DCC and Sound.
La Mesa Model Railroad Club HO scale layout, powered by DCC and Sound.
Picture credit: San Diego Division Webmaster.

La Mesa Model Railroad Club
(San Diego, California, USA)
www.lamesaclub.com

  • Located inside the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.
  • The HO scale La Mesa Model Railroad Club was founded in 1960 in the city of La Mesa (about a 15 minute drive east of the city of San Diego). The club's original layout was located in La Mesa but they lost the lease in the building they were located in the late 1970s and the club had to find a new home. The La Mesa Model Railroad Club spearheaded the creation of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum and found its new home. Fast forward to today, the club's layout at the museum is now about 40 years young.
  • Today, the La Mesa Model Railroad Club's takes up around 10,000 square feet, possibly making it the largest model railroad club in the world that models a real railroad. Many model railroad clubs model what is called freelance or fantasy layouts, which do not represent real railroads. The La Mesa Model Railroad Club has over 30 scale miles of mainline track. When you add all the track (the mainline track, sidings, industry spurs, railroad yards, storage track, helixes, wyes, return loops and more), the club has over 90 scale miles of track on its layout.
  • While the entire bench work and most of the track is completed, the club's scenery is still being worked on, electrical upgrades continue to take place and many other improvements to the club's 10,000 square foot (approximately) layout continue each month. The La Mesa Club uses DCC and Sound using NCE Power Cabs, NCE Pro Cabs and other types of cabs. 
  • The club layout represents the joint Southern Pacific Railroad and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway from Bakersfield to Mojave, California (USA) of the 1950s. The current layout consists of the area from the Southern Pacific Bakersfield Yard going east through the famous Tehachapi Loop, and again, going eastward to the Mojave Railroad Yard.
  • The club has Time Table/Train Order Operation Sessions (set in the 1950s) several times a year and operators are invited from all over the United States to help operate in real time. Some of the model enthusiasts will arrive into San Diego days before these events and visit with friends or family in San Diego, or visit tourist areas or simply enjoy the camaraderie of other model railroad enthusiasts.
  • The La Mesa Club also has several Operations Sessions for its own members as well.
images/Links/NorthCountyModelRailroadSociety.jpg
North County Model Railroad Society. Union Pacific GP30s are working during an Operations Session.
Picture credit: San Diego Division Webmaster.

North County Model Railroad Society
(Oceanside, California, USA)
www.ncmrs.org

  • The club was formed in January 1990 and is an active HO scale model railroad club. The club is open to the public at Heritage Park, Oceanside. Look for the building with the sign that says, "Train Depot", to find where the model railroad layout is located.
  • The club models the Southern Pacific Railroad from San Diego, California (USA) to Colton, California (USA). 
  • The club layout has two levels, has many buildings and industries, has tunnels, railroad yards, industry spurs, sidings and more, and is located in two large rooms.
  • The club uses DCC/Sound to control the locomotives through phone apps and use multiple touchscreen tablets throughout the layout, which control the switches. 
  • The club welcomes new members from anywhere in San Diego County and other areas north of Oceanside and has Operations Sessions for its members.

San Diego 3-Railers
(San Diego, California, USA)
www.sd3r.org

  • Located inside the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.
  • The San Diego 3-Railers is an O scale model train club. The club's layout has lots of lights, animation, action and fast trains! The layout itself is jam-packed with buildings, industries, road vehicles, people and many, many other things. It's a layout that you can spend hours in, just trying to see all the details on their layout.
  • The club has also packed lots of memorabilia in display cases at the club. and the layout itself is jam-packed with buildings, industries, road vehicles, people and many, many other things. It's a layout that you can spend hours in, just trying to see all the details they have added to their layout.
  • Be sure not to miss this very fun layout, for all ages, at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. 
San Diego Division Member Wayne and his On30 model railroad.
San Diego Division Member Wayne and his On30 model railroad.
Picture credit: San Diego Division Webmaster.

San Diego Division - National Model Railroad Association
(San Diego County and Imperial County, California, USA)
www.sandiegodivision.org

  • The San Diego Division of the National Model Railroad Association is quite an active group of railroad modelers, modeling many different scales. The members are from San Diego County and Imperial County. While the San Diego Division does not have a layout, we hold monthly meetings and events, every second Saturday of the month. Our Meetings and Events each month, are held at various locations throughout San Diego County.
  • Our meetings include members showcasing their own modeling work, layout tours, and modeling clinics. (A clinic is where one of our members demonstrates techniques or skills needed for modeling. Here are a few examples of clinic topics: An electronics clinic; how to solder; how to weather rolling stock; understanding decoders; techniques and standards to improve rolling stock.)
  • We have Quarterly Meets which can include a variety of activities such as a potluck luncheon, an annual swap meet, annual picnic and other activities for our members.
  • Due to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, many National Model Railroad Association Divisions (including the San Diego Division) started Zoom Meetings across the nation and around the world. By joining the National Model Railroad Association, you will have access to plenty of Zoom Meetings to help improve your scale railroad modeling. As of August 2021, we have gone back to in-person meetings, each meeting or event is determined in advance if masks are required or not.
  • The National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) is a world-wide organization with over 18,000 active members, associates, families and clubs dedicated to the hobby of scale model railroading in all its facets, helping to educate its members in modeling techniques, to learn more about the hobby and to meet others with your same interest. The National Model Railroad Association also develops standards for scale model railroad equipment for model railroad manufactures, to help facilitate the interchangeability and operation of equipment between modelers, clubs and others.

San Diego Garden Railway Society
(San Diego, California, USA)
www.sdgrs.com

San Diego Model Railroad Association Cabrillo Southwest O scale layout
San Diego Model Railroad Association's Cabrillo Southwest O scale layout (2-rail track, 1:45 scale).
Picture credit: San Diego Division Webmaster.

San Diego Model Railroad Association
(San Diego, California, USA)
www.sdmrra.com

  • Located inside the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.
  • The San Diego Model Railroad Association has both an HO scale and O scale layout at the San Diego Model Railroad Association.
  • The HO layout features the prototype San Diego & Arizona Eastern from San Diego's Union Station traveling South to Tijuana and through Mexico, recrossing into the United States at Tecate (Mexico and California) through to Campo (California). The line continues into the Carrizo Gorge, to Imperial County past Plaster City, and ending at El Centro (California). A 3 ft narrow gauge line from Plaster City to a gypsum mine is also loosely modeled. Finally, the branch line running from San Diego going east to El Cajon (and at one time Foster) is modeled with trolley and branch line service. Although most of the trackwork and basic scenery is completed, upgrades and detailing continue.
  • The Cabrillo Southwest O scale layout (2-rail track, 1:45 scale) features a double mainline track for passenger and freight operations, an On3 narrow gauge branch line for a logging industry, a mountain district for freight trains and a trolley line. There is a total of five lines of continuous loops track on this layout, plus industry spurs, sidings and railroad yards.
    • O scale 2-rail layouts are actually quite rare in the model train hobby because its scale has high standards for their trains with lots of details. This scale is one of the most realistic ways to model O scale. The locomotives and rail cars are very expensive are are protected by glass windows. As a guest of the museum, you'll have a very unique opportunity to see an O scale 2-rail layout.
    • The layout is 120 feet long and has approximately 13 scale miles of mainline track. It represents California circa 1955 and its scenic location is based on an imaginary line from San Diego to Sacramento, California (USA). The double mainline track are the longest mainlines and the narrow gauge, mountain district and trolley line are the three minor lines of the layout. There is a trolley line by the windows which gets its power from overhead wires just like real trolleys and again, another rare modeling feature of this layout that is usually not modeled in the model railroad hobby.
    • The O scale layout has been under construction, refinement and operation for more than 25 years. The trolley is DC powered and all other tracks can run trains using DC or DCC power.
    • For your information: Lionel model trains have 3-rail track (as opposed to O scale 2-rail track) and can have not-so very realistic trains which are usually affordable to model and modelers can also purchase more realistic and more expensive trains for O scale 3-rail track.

San Diego S-Gaugers
(Grossmont, California, USA)
www.sites.google.com/site/sdsgaugers

San Diego Society of N Scale
(San Diego, California, USA)

Short Track Railroad
(Vista, California, USA)
www.shorttrackrr.org

 

San Diego Railroad Museums and Public Displays 

HO scale Dead Rail model layout by San Diego Division member.
HO scale Dead Rail model layout by San Diego Division member.
Picture credit: San Diego Division Webmaster.

Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum
(Vista, California, USA)
www.agsem.com

Chula Vista Live Steamers
(Bonita, California, USA)
www.chulavistalivesteamers.org 

North County Model Railroad Society
(Oceanside, California, USA)
www.ncmrs.org

Old Town Model Railroad Depot
(San Diego, California, USA)
www.oldtowntrains.com

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum and Association
(Campo and La Mesa, California, USA)
www.psrm.org

Poway-Midland Railway 
(Poway, California, USA)
www.powaymidlandrr.org

San Diego Electric Railway Association, Inc. & National City Depot Museum
(National City, California, USA) 
www.sdera.org

San Diego Model Railroad Museum
(San Diego, California, USA)
www.sdmrm.org

  • Located in Balboa Park, just minutes north by car of the city of San Diego. The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is home to four model railroad clubs. The museum has its own Garden Scale model railroad exhibit called the Centennial Railway Garden.
  • The museum is the largest model railroad museum in North America and is one of the largest model railroad museums in the world.
  • The model railroad clubs in the museum include:
    • La Mesa Model Railroad Club
    • San Diego 3-Railers
    • San Diego Model Railroad Association
    • San Diego Society of N Scalers

San Diego S-Gaugers
(Grossmont, California, USA)
www.sites.google.com/site/sdsgaugers

Short Track Railroad
(Vista, California, USA)
www.shorttrackrr.org

 

San Diego Train Rides

Balboa Park Miniature Railroad
(San Diego, California, USA)
www.balboapark.org/attractions/miniature-train

  • In Balboa Park, next to the San Diego Zoo.

LEGOLAND Express Train
(Carlsbad, California, USA)
www.legoland.com

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum and Association
(Campo and La Mesa, California, USA)
www.psrm.org

  • The Campo location has train rides, a museum, gift shop, special events, locomotives, switchers, train cars, maintenance facilities, a railroad yard and more. The La Mesa location has a small museum and an outside display which has a steam locomotive, box car and a  caboose.

Poway-Midland Railway 
(Poway, California, USA)
www.powaymidlandrr.org

 

Pacific Surfliner at the Santa Fe train station at downtown San Diego (California, USA).
Pacific Surfliner at the Santa Fe train station at downtown San Diego (California, USA).
Picture credit: San Diego Division Webmaster.

San Diego Public Train and Trolley Service 

The Coaster
(San Diego, California, USA)
www.gonctd.com/services/coaster-commuter-rail

  • Service between downtown San Diego and Oceanside.

Metrolink
(Southern California, USA)
www.metrolinktrains.com

  • Service between Oceanside and Los Angeles. 

Pacific Surfliner
(Southern California, USA)
www.amtrak.com/pacific-surfliner-train

  • Service between downtown San Diego, through Los Angeles with its final destination in San Luis Obispo, with spectacular ocean views. 

San Diego Trolley
(San Diego, California, USA)
www.sdmts.com

The Sprinter
(San Diego North County, California, USA)
www.gonctd.com/services/sprinter-hybrid-rail

  • Service between Oceanside and Escondido.