Few People Realize How Much Railroad History Is Preserved In The Little Community Of Campo In Southern California
You can visit many of Southern California’s cities and towns and find pieces of
this state’s history, from period architecture and preserved buildings to museums and artifacts. One important part of this state’s history is the railroad system which has served to connect California to the rest of the country, as well as connecting key locations within the state. You can learn much about our railroad history in San Diego County in the little community of Campo.
Campo, California, is a tiny unincorporated town in San Diego County. This little community was an important transportation hub at the beginning of the 20th century and holds an impressive amount of railroad history.
The original Campo Depot has been fully restored to operate as a train station and a museum gift shop.
Campo is home to the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum (PSRM), a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the education and preservation of rail transportation history, particularly focusing on the railroads in San Diego County and how they have connected this area to the rest of the country and Mexico.
The museum is run entirely by volunteers. Donations and volunteers are also used to restore and maintain trains, equipment, displays, etc.
There are over 120 artifacts and pieces of equipment displayed by the organization, between this main location in Campo and a second location in La Mesa.
The San Diego and Arizona Railway was called “the impossible railroad” by many engineers before its construction.
This was due in large part to the massive Carriso Gorge that the railroad would have to traverse. A series of tunnels were excavated, wooden trestles were built, and the steel Campo Creek Viaduct was erected.
The PSRM goes beyond exhibits and memorabilia. It operates a “demonstration” railroad. Visitors can take a short train ride on a portion of the historic tracks which lead past the rugged countryside, through several tunnels to the border of Mexico.
Not only do riders get to choose from a variety of vintage train cars to ride in, but some are also able to ride in the cab of the locomotive.
After a 45-minute train ride, passengers have the choice to visit the Museum’s equipment display grounds where they can explore vintage locomotives, box cars, passenger cars, and the Post Office car.
The museum highlights the African-American railroad heritage, from segregated passenger cars to labor and railroad construction that created a local community.
Have you heard of Hobo Code? Hoboes were men who illegally hopped trains and moved from place to place in search of work. There are stories and legends of a system of codes used to pass on helpful information and warnings for other hoboes passing through.
Visitors to the museum in Campo are in for an education that includes so much more than vintage train equipment. This town was also the location of Camp Locket, an important post of the U.S. army after the Civil War and during World War II. This is where the famous “Buffalo Soldiers” were stationed.
The community of Campo is not one you hear a lot about, but it tells an interesting and important story about Southern California’s railroad history. Have you been to the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo, California? We want to hear what you think about it! Visit the
Pacific Southwest Railway Museum website for more information or follow the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum on Facebook for great photos, updates, and more. If you plan to visit Campo, make sure you check out this historic candy shop in nearby Boulevard, CA.
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Address: 750 Depot St, Campo, CA 91906, USA