Monday, January 23, 2012

Sidetracked to San Diego for a Few Days

If there are pantographs and wires, I will find them. Here's the San Diego trolley at twilight, an hour or so after
our arrival.
There are regular ol' trains
too-- this is San Diego's
downtown Amtrak station.
My wife had a conference in sunny San Diego, California over the past week, so my son and I flew out for a long weekend. Everyone thinks San Diego is a Navy town--but it's really a railroad town too. The city is served by Amtrak, a world class light rail system, and is host to a world class model railroad museum.

The MTS--San Diego's trolley--is slick, not just in appearance, but in operation as well. It has a distinctly European feel, far more than the other US light rails I have known in Baltimore and Denver.

Oldest (left) and newest (right) MTS cars at Old Town station on a sunny Friday afternoon. 

San Diego MTS yard and shops at night.
The San Diego Model Railroad Museum is host to five model railroad clubs and features a few small exhibits of important early model railroading artifacts, such as Minton Crokhites's excellent, early Santa Fe streamliner models (aged but impressive) and a few sad surviving relics from John Allen's seminal Gorre & Daphetid layout. The five layouts represent scale and tinplate O, N, and HO

The huge majesty of the La Mesa exhibit at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.
From the standpoint of model railroaders (as opposed to the viewing public and little kids), the majestic main attraction is the La Mesa Model Railroad Club HO layout. Go visit the club's website to learn more, but my in-person impression is that it is HUGE! And MAJESTIC!

Dudes running their trains on the La Mesa club layout. Those are HO F-units, to give an idea of how much layout
is going on there! My wife, by the way, graciously pointed out to me that Dunes Junctions trees are superior to these.

How the sausage gets made.  The in-progress portions of the La Mesa layout are fully visible, and club members
chat with visitors of all ages and interest levels about how the layout is built and operated.
A scale-radius curve on the La Mesa layout

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