Firsts in San Bernardino

1883 - First Passenger

Train arrives in San

Bernardino (California

Southern Railroad).




Wednesday 9 AM - Noon
Saturday 10 AM - 3 PM

FREE Admission

FREE Parking

FREE Tours

1170 W. Third Street
San Bernardino, CA 92410

Map & Directions

San Bernardino
Historical &
Pioneer Society

P.O. Box 875
San Bernardino, CA 92402


(909) 888-3634 


Depot & Museum Tour

September 4, 2019

Tours will  be conducted

on  the  first Wednesday of

each month at 10:00 am.

Call (909)  888-3634  for

a reservation.  FREE


Group Tours

For a Group Tour on

Saturday or any other 

day call (909) 888-3634.


Virtual Museum Tour

Click here for visual tour

of the museum.


Photo Histories

Click here to view local San

Bernardino and railroad

photographic histories.


Click here for the Santa 

Fe Railway Historical and

Modeling Society.


Norton AFB Museum

Now Open:

Thursday 10:00 to 2:00

Saturday  10:00 to 2:00



N.A.R.V.R.E. Meeting

at the Mexico Cafe

The next meeting of the

National Association of

Retired & Veteran Railway

Employees will be held

at the Mexico Cafe.





Upcoming Events:

The Museum is open on:

Wednesday 9:00 to 12:00

Saturday 10:00 to 3:00  (Virtual Museum Tour)


July 4, 2019 - Dedication of Camp Cajon Monument

1919 Cajon Camp Monument

The  San Bernardino, Highland and Wrightwood Historical Societies sponsored the building of a reproduction the landmark Camp Cajon Monument.

The rock base is 8 feet tall and contains a 40 foot flag pole and reproductions of the original AAA signs that were imbedded in the monument.

Camp Cajon, opened July 4, 1919,  and was built on National Old Trails Road, the United States’ first “Ocean to Ocean Highway,” that opened in 1912. National Old Trails Road became U.S. Route 66 in 1926, and Camp Cajon became famous as “The Gateway to Southern California.”

William Bristol, a well-known local orange grower, author, and poet, conceived Camp Cajon in 1917. He believed the location of Camp Cajon would be an ideal spot for motorists to stop and recuperate from their difficult trip across the Mojave Desert.

William Bristol created a unique style for the heavy rock and concrete facilities at Camp Cajon and came up with an idea to have sponsors supply items such as stoves, barbecue pits, and tables.

Tragically, the great flood of 1938 decimated Camp Cajon. The beautiful handmade stone structures were buried, or damaged beyond repair, and the camp was abandoned.

The present-day site of Camp Cajon is located on Wagon Train Road, just east of Interstate 15, and south of Highway 138, in the Cajon Pass. It was approximately 1,000 feet south of the existing McDonald’s.

The dedication for the reconstructed monument took place at  10:00 am, on July 4th, 2019, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the camp’s opening.


2019 - Union Pacific Celebrates the Transcontinental Railroad


Union Pacific's historic steam locomotives --- Living Legend No. 844 and Big Boy No. 4014 --- are touring the Union Pacific system throughout 2019 to commemorate the transcontinental railroad's 150th anniversary.

Living Legend No. 844 is the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific.  

It was delivered in 1944 and is still in operation today.

 A high-speed passenger engine, it pulled such widely known trains as the Overland Limited, Los Angeles Limited, Portland Rose and Challenger.

Big Boy No. 4014 is one of the world's largest steam locomotives and the only operating Big Boy locomotive.  

After it's retirement from service in 1961, it sat on display in the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, California for over 50 years.  

Union Pacific then relocated 4014 back to Cheyenne, Wyoming to begin a multi-year restoration.

No. 844 will leave Cheyenne on April 27 and will make several brief stops before arriving in Ogden, Utah on April 28, where it will remain through May 9.

No. 4014 will depart Cheyenne on May 4 and arrive at the Ogden Train Station for the May 9 celebratory event with No. 844.

For the latest update of Union Pacific's 2019 Steam Schedule click here.

In addion to Union Pacific's Odgen celebration, there will be the Golden Spike Sesquicentenial Celebration and Festival at Promonrory Summit May 10th through May 12th.


March 6, 1904 - Promontory Point and Lucin Cutoff

On May 10, 1869, it was at Promontory Summit (see Yellow Star) that the "Golden Spike" was driven into the special laurel railroad tie.  (Promontory Summit is 66 miles northwest of Salt Lake City and 32 miles west of Brigham City.)

Promontory Point (see Red Arrow), west of Ogden, Utah, is approximately 44 miles south of Promontory Summit.   It is not associated with the railroad until 1902-1904 when the Lucin Cutoff over the Great Salt Lake was constructed.

Not until the turn of the century were engineers able to build a causeway/trestle over the Great Salt Lake.

On March 6, 1904, freight trains began using the Lucin Cutoff (a 102-mile railroad line from Ogden to Lucin, Utah) and on September 18, 1904, passenger trains began using the cutoff.

This route was 43 miles shorter than the 1869 route over Promontory Summit and avoided the many curves and grades. Main line trains no longer pass over Promontory Summit.


September 13, 1883 - First Train in San Bernardino

For over 11 months the Southern Pacific Railroad prevented a train from entering San Bernardino from the South.  Southern Pacific used legal and physical means to prevent the train from crossing the SP east-west track at the Colton Crossing. 

Virgil Earp (a special agent for Southern Pacific and later the first City Marshall of Colton) led the group that prevented California Southern Railroad from heading north to San Bernardino.

On September 13, 1883, after a court order was issued and an "at grade" crossing (called a "frog") was installed, the first passenger train arrived in San Bernardino from National City (just south of San Diego).  The train, pulled by Engine No. 4,  was operated by the California Southern Railroad, later owned by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

Fred T. Perris, a civil engineer and surveyor for the railroad, was at the whistle.  (Photograph by H. B. Wesner) 

Note: On August 28, 2013, a public celebration was held to dedicate the opening of the new Colton Crossing Rail-to-Rail Grade Separation.  After 130 years the east-west Union Pacific Railroad tracks were raised to pass over the north-south BNSF Railroad tracks.  This will alleviate congestion at the crossing, which accommodates more that 100 trains each day.


May 10, 1869 - Golden Spike

Above are replicas of the locomotives that meet at Promontory Summit in 1869. On the left is No. 60, Central Pacific's "Jupiter" and on the right, Union Pacific's No. 119.

On May 10, 1869, two 4-4-0 steam locomotives meet at Promontory Summit, Utah, thus completing the United States Transcontinental Railroad, connecting Omaha to Sacramento.  

It was on Promontory Summit (north of the Great Salt Lake) that the "Golden Spike" was driven into the special laurel railroad tie.  Promontory Point (about 44 miles south of the Summit) is not associated with the railroad until 1902-1904 when the Lucin Cutoff over the Great Salt Lake was constructed.

The actual engines that participated in the 1869 ceremony were scrapped after the turn of the century.  In 1975 the National Park Service hired O'Connor Engineering of Costa Mesa, CA to build exact replicas of the engines.

Beginning in 1979, these locomotives began participating in annual ceremonies at the National Historic Site at Promontory Summit, operated by the U. S. National Park Service.

And yes, the early locomotives were usually painted in bright colors.  Probably starting in the 1880s or 1890s, most steam locomotives were being painted all black.

Walt Disney Company employees, led by Ward Kimball, were commissioned to paint and letter the locomotives. Absent any documentation of the colors of the original engines, Kimball chose bright reds and vermilions for eye-catching appeal.

During the ceremony in 1869, four special spikes were presented: 1. The Golden Spike known as the "Last Spike"; 2. Nevada's Silver Spike; 3.  Arizona's Gold and Silver Spike; and 4.  A second, lower-quality gold spike ordered by the San Francisco News Letter.

Another Golden Spike, exactly like the "Last Spike" from the 1869 ceremony, was cast and engraved at the same time. It was held, unknown to the public, by the Hewes family, until 2005.  It is now on display at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.  The Golden Spike from the ceremony was donated to the Stanford Museum (now Cantor Arts Center) in 1898.

Click here to go to the Golden Spike National Historic Site at Promontory Summit.

Click here for an interesting article on Colorado's Comanche Crossing Last Spike.


December 15, 1854 - Arcata & Mad River Railroad

* In 1854, on December 15, the railroad was incorporated as the Union Plank Walk, Rail Track and Wharf Company.

* In 1855, the railroad became California's first operational railroad. With a horse drawn car, it served local lumber mills and the port of Arcata (280 miles north of San Francisco).

* In 1875, the company bought its first steam locomotive. Over the years the company changed its name several times and expanded its local service.

* In 1881, the company became Arcata & Mad River Railroad, to connect the north end of Humboldt Bay with the north fork of Mad River.  

* In 1883, F. Korbel & Bros. (Francis, Anton, and Joseph Korbel), owners of the Humboldt Lumber Mill Company at North Fork (now Korbel), purchased the railroad.

* In 1903, F. Korbel & Bros. sold all of their Northern California holdings, including the railroad, to the Northern Redwood Lumber Company. 

* The winter storms of 1982/1983 destroyed the track in many places.  Repairs were made later in the year, about the same time the railroad raised its rates on traffic to the Eureka area.

* In 1985, the Arcata & Mad River Railroad shut down as shippers found trucking was now more economical.


August 28, 1830 - "Tom Thumb"

      "Tom Thumb", 0-4-0 Steam Locomotive

*  This is the first successful steam locomotive built in America.

*  It was built by Peter Cooper for the B&O Railroad.

*  Previously the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad relied on horses to pull its passenger and freight trains.

*  This locomotive had an upright boiler, short wheelbase and a geared drive.

*  On August 28, 1830, "Tom Thumb" carried the B&O directors in a passenger car to Ellicott's Mills.

*  It hauled passengers until March 1831, but was never put into regular service.

*  It was salvaged in 1834.  As it was a demonstration engine, no engineering drawings of it exist.

(extracted from the B&O Railroad Museum website) 

Above is a Replica of the "Tom Thumb" located in the B&O Railroad Museum

Click here to see a photo history of other early steam locomotives.


September 27, 1825 - World's First Passenger Train

The above image was copied from "The History of Transportation", a small book published by the Railway Education Bureau in 1927.

On September 27, 1825, Locomotion No. 1 became the world's first steam locomotive to carry passengers on a public line, the Stockton and Darlington Railway, in North East England.

Locomotion No. 1 was built by George Stephenson at his son Robert's company, the Robert Stephenson and Company.

George Stephenson drove the first train. The engine was called Active (later renamed Locomotion). It pulled a train with 450 passengers at a speed of 15 miles an hour.

George Stephenson (9 June 1781 – – 12 August 1848) was a self made mechanical engineer, largely credited with building the first railway line and becoming the ‘father of the railways’.

His rail gauge of 4 feet 8.5 inches became the global standard gauge for most of the world's railways.

George also built the first public inter-city railway line in the world to use locomotives, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which opened in 1830. 

Stephenson's "Locomotion No. 1" can be seen at the Darlington Railway Centre and Museum, located in an original 1840s railway station.


August 6, 1985 - Kodachrome

(Photograph courtesy of the SFRH&MS)



*  In 1983, Southern Pacific and Santa Fe (SPSF) agreed to merge, hence many new paint schemes were tested.

*  Seen here in the fall of 1985 is Santa Fe SD-45 #5394 after receiving its new "Kodachrome" paint job in San Bernardino.

* ATSF 5394 was in the process of being upgraded and rebuilt at San Bernardino, and became the first full-size engine to receive the proposed merger paint scheme.  It emerged from the shops on August 6, 1985.

*  The merger was ultimately disapproved by the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1987.

*  Over 300 engines painted with the "Kodachrome" paint scheme had to be repainted, or were retired.

The Nov. - Dec. 2015 SFRH&MS Newsletter contains several photographs of the SPSF paint scheme that were taken in the San Bernardino shops.