Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

For those of you perched on the edge of your seat wondering how the brake situation worked out, rest easy.   Super Terry arrived and sprang into action, swiftly replaced the questionable actuator with a factory-fresh replacement, then bled the brakes and verified proper operation.   We celebrated with dinner in the trailer, and the second half of “Prince Caspian” on DVD.   It wasn’t a wild night boondocking in the desert but it was a fine one nonetheless.

In the morning we stopped off at the Borrego Springs hardware stores to buy some tie wraps for cleaning up some of the wiring, and while we were parked by the side of the road, Dirk spotted us and stopped by to meet Terry in person. Then Super Terry bade us farewell and zipped off to his headquarters, no doubt awaiting his next opportunity to do a good deed.

We had been forced to cancel our overnight plans in Campo CA, but since we had everything resolved by about 10 a.m., there was still time to drive about 70 miles down to see our friends Daisy and Don.   We last saw them on the north rim of the Grand Canyon in September, where they were working at the lodge.   Now they are volunteering at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, which is sort of a playground for railfans in a tiny unincorporated village by the border with Mexico.

Daisy and Don arranged to roll out the red carpet for us, which meant a personal guided tour of the historic railcars, lunch, and a ride on the train about 11 miles down to the very border.   The border happens to be midway through a rural tunnel, and is delineated by a white line.   There’s no gate at this tunnel (but there is one in the next tunnel), and nothing to suggest that this is an international border except for Border Patrol personnel lurking at road crossings nearby.

The museum is a strictly volunteer operation, and rather small, with one building containing a few gems of the collection, and many   other engines and cars lined up outside.   There’s a restoration shop and several interesting historic cars but not everything is open to the public.   Being rather off the beaten path, things were quiet when we came by, but that meant we had plenty of time to drift through the cars and talk before the train departed at 2:30.

From Campo to Bonita, the shortest route is Rt 94.   It is a constantly twisting and rolling adventure that would be much more fun in a little sportscar than in a giant SUV with an 8000-lb trailer strapped to it.   Still, the scenery is beautiful and even surprising at times, with views from 3000 feet altitude through valleys into Mexico.

This time of year the major limitation of climate is not temperature, but sunlight.   It’s hard to get to the destination by 5 p.m., when things start getting dark and backing into a strange campsite becomes a serious challenge.  But here we are, undented and with brakes that work, in the Mediterranean air of the San Diego area.  We will spend the next few days here, exploring and taking care of business.  As it turns out, we will have much to do.


  1. Terry says

    Rich, was your locomotive for your train trip the General Electric 44 ton switch engine pictured? The 44 ton engine has two Caterpillar V8 diesel engines at 190 hp each. They are fun to drive, but tend to ride a bit rough.