East County

Campo Travel Blog

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Volunteers run the railroad, the train, the switches... they have so much fun!
Every rural area seems to have a train museum. Old guys get together, talk about the old days, and restore trains. In San Diego, there's Campo, about 60 miles east of town. There's not a lot there, an old train depot, some cows... Lots of old guys and trains.



A few times a year they run a train down the little section of track they've restored, about 5 miles across the border to Tecate, Mexico. I wasn't sure how fun this was going to be, but my friends talked me into it and it was actually pretty good.


This was part of the San Diego and Arizona Eastern line. It was the "Impossible Railroad" built by our local millionaire John Spreckels at the turn of the last century. The idea was to connect the port in San Diego Bay with the rest of the country.
Campo Station
Because of the mountains, the railroad had to cross the border into Mexico and back, then drop thousands of feet into the desert, clinging to cliffs and running through long tunnels. It was always a troublesome route, and it was permanently shut down when several of the tunnels collapsed and were too expensive to rebuild. Ok, enough railroad history!


I wasn't sure if this was going to be fun when my friends talked me into it, but it was! First, the train goes through a weird, inaccessible corner of the county that you can't really get to otherwise. It creeps along, just over walking speed, squealing and groaning around the corners. It's like going back in time a hundred years.


A tunnel leads into Mexico, where the train stops to take on a Mexican "pilot" to sit in the engine for the last couple miles- Mexico loves that kind of bureaucracy!
diegodlg says:
I've wanted to do this train trip for a while. Now I'm definitely going to put it on my calendar. Thanks for the review.
Posted on: May 06, 2008
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Volunteers run the railroad, the t…
Volunteers run the railroad, the …
Campo Station
Campo Station
A restored travel car
A restored travel car
The restored section of track
The restored section of track
A 1930s passenger car
A 1930s passenger car
Troop carrier car from the second …
Troop carrier car from the second…
Grinding down the long grade towar…
Grinding down the long grade towa…
We entertain ourselves taking pict…
We entertain ourselves taking pic…
Shaky old trestle leading to a tun…
Shaky old trestle leading to a tu…
The border tunnel leads to Mexico!
The border tunnel leads to Mexico!
Tom in the tunnel
At this point w…
Tom in the tunnel At this point …
16 km (10 miles) traveled
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photo by: cneoridium