California Historical Landmark No. 1023: National City Depot Transcontinental Railroad

I visited four different landmarks in the southwest part of San Diego County last weekend, and was going to wait until I migrated my older visits from livejournal to this blog before posting about the new landmarks I visited, but why not strike while the iron is hot.

No. 1023: National City Depot Transcontinental Railroad

The only California Historical Landmark in National City (a small city immediately south of downtown San Diego) is its historic rail depot, which served as the southwestern terminus of the transcontinental railroad operated by Santa Fe. The California Southern line, split off from the main line at Barstow, headed south to Temecula, then cut through Fallbrook to Oceanside. After the railroad passed through Santa Fe Depot (in downtown San Diego), it continued south along San Diego Bay to reach National City.

Originally built in 1882 in the Italianate architectural style (of which it is one of the few remaining buildings in the South Bay), the station continued as the West Coast office for Santa Fe until 1889, when Santa Fe moved its operations to San Bernardino, while the station continued to receive passenger service until 1930. At some point afterward, the two-story structure became a restaurant. The City of National City restored the building in 1998. It is currently a museum operated by the San Diego Electric Railway Association, which has a collection of electric rail (trolley) cars from around the world on the property, and is open Thursday – Sunday.

Plaque text:

    This National City California Southern Railroad Depot, built in 1882, served as the first Pacific Coast terminus station of the Santa Fe Railway System's transcontinental railroad. The station was the West Coast general office and figured prominently in Santa Fe's effort to break the economic and transportation monopoly of California held by the Central/Southern Pacific Railroad. The first transcontinental trains arrived in November 1885, resulting in one of the largest land booms in the history of California. Of the original five transcontinental railroad terminus stations, this unique Italianate designed station is the lone survivor.


    Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the City of National City and the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, Squibob Chapter, November 15, 1997.

Atop the stone monument are three railroad spikes inset into the marker. The landmark was officially registered on March 3, 1997.


The stone marker displaying the plaque is located next to the northeast corner of the depot building. (or to the right of the building as you face the entrance from 23rd Street). National City Depot is located at:

    900 West 23rd Street
    National City
    (San Diego County)

Directions: From Interstate 5, take the Bay Marina Drive / Mile of Cars Way exit, and head west one block. Turn right (north) on Cleveland Ave, then turn left (west) onto West 23rd Street, and the parking lot will be ahead on the left. The marker is within the fenced property, so be sure to check the museum’s business hours to make sure the lot will be open.

P1170743 These two electric railcars are Vienna N1 cars from the 1950s


Visit my geotagged album of photos of the plaque, depot building, and electric railway cars on flickr.

Other resources:

Date of visit: Sunday, March 10, 2013.

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2 responses to “California Historical Landmark No. 1023: National City Depot Transcontinental Railroad”

  1. pattybones2 says :

    Love these little historical references. Keep it up!

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