At 27,000 square feet, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is the world's largest accredited model railroad museum. This unique museum contains five enormous scale and model layouts depicting railroads of the Southwest in O, HO, and N scales. In addition, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum features a Toy Train Gallery with an interactive Lionel layout for children and state-of-the-art theater lighting.
The mission of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is to preserve the heritage of railroading through a series of miniature representations of California railroads, as well as research and preserve the history of model railroading. A main component of our mission is to educate the public on the history and aspects of railroading. It is our goal to actively engage people from every community and demographic, to delight and teach the art of model railroading and the history of railroads. At every twist, turn, and tunnel we spark curiosity with developing educational programming that includes education milestones like critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving. Our exhibits transform little engineers to modelers who tinker with engines and nail down track to build and transform something from nothing.
Model railroading has a rich history in San Diego, particularly in Balboa Park. Its origins in the park can be traced back to the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition when legendary model railroader Minton Cronkite was asked by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company to build a replica of the AT&SF railroad system in the Ford Building, the present day Air and Space museum. Today, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is proud to have pieces from that original display in our permanent collection.
With highly detailed recreations of beautiful train routes, including Tehachapi Pass, the Cabrillo Southwester, San Diego and Arizona Eastern and the Pacific Desert Lines, the Model Railroad Museum offers a eagle's eye view of some of the most stunning of landscapes.