A 1950s diesel locomotive approaches a street crossing. Photo by Jan Wagner
A 1950s diesel locomotive approaches a street crossing. Photo by Jan Wagner

By Jan Wagner

An amazing scale model railroad layout that playfully recreates 1950s America can be found in historic Old Town San Diego.

It is billed as “the largest privately owned O-scale model train interactive San Diego attraction, with over 2500 square feet of fun for all ages.”

Spread over two large rooms — one in daylight and one at night — this retro slice of Americana features a variety of scenes, including a city with a fire department, shops, a motel, a baseball park, movie theaters, car dealerships and even Elvis Presley.

There’s a “Wild West” town, industrial sites, a farming community, a lakeside country resort, a carnival and much more — all reproduced in exquisite, often whimsical attention to detail. Signs on buildings include: “Cook, Books & Hyde Tax Accountants” and “Dewey, Cheetum & Howe” Tax Attorneys.

The display includes tiny cars, trucks, boats, people, animals and computer-controlled trains. The widespread electrification of lights, signs, vehicles, buildings and more is truly mind-boggling.

Remarkably, admission to this miniature wonder is free of charge, thanks to visitors’ voluntary donations and sales of railroad-themed mementos, artwork and clothing items in the gift shop.

The Old Town Model Railroad Depot is open daily except Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Copyright © 2017 by Jan Wagner