Welcome to the San Diego Electric Railway Association!
The San Diego Electric Railway Association (SDERA) is dedicated to the preservation of the history of the San Diego Electric Railway - San Diego's primary streetcar system which operated from the late 1800s to 1949. SDERA is also the operator of the National City Depot, an historic Santa Fe railroad station. We operate a railroad and local history museum within the depot, and the depot is open Thursday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. A large model-railroad exhibit, operated by our 3-Rail model railroad group, is also included in the museum displays. All train buffs, local historians, and people looking for an interesting "day out" in the San Diego area are encouraged to visit the depot, join with us, and help us grow into a major destination within San Diego County
Monthly meetings are typically held at the National City Depot on the 2nd Saturday night of the month at 7:30pm. There is no charge to attend these meetings which cover interesting subjects relating to past, present, and future electric railways. Plan to arrive by 7 p.m. to chat, and peruse the Gift Shop. Join us at 5:30 for an optional no-host dinner before the meeting at The Barbeque Pit Restaurant - 920 E. Plaza Blvd, National City (directions from Mapquest).
Car 54... Where Are You? Coming to the National City Depot!!
On March 5th, 1889 vintage SDERy Streetcar #54 will leave the San Diego History Center bound for the National City Depot! Watch for additional information to be posted shortly on this Breaking News!
The June 2012 edition of our newsletter Trolley Lines highlighted the history of this unique car! You can find a copy of that newsletter here!
San Diego Vintage Trolley Brings PCCs to the Streets of San Diego!
The volunteers of San Diego Vintage Trolley were proud to unveil car #529 on August 18, 2011. The Presidents Conference Committee (PCC) car made its first loop on the "Silver Line" in downtown San Diego. This car is the result of six years of volunteer labor where it was lovingly restored and painted as you might see running on the streets in the San Diego area. When you see this car, it is hard to believe it was built in 1949. Volunteers have five more cars waiting for a similar to chance to bring smiles to San Diego.
Check out the progress in our monthly Newsletter - Trolley Lines. Page 2 of each issue discusses the progress of this renovation project.
San Diego Vintage Trolley has a new website at www.sdvintagetrolley.com. Currently, operations have been suspended while San Diego Trolley renewed work finishes. Volunteers have taken this opportunity to rewire the car to improve reliability. Currently, they expect to resume at the end of June, 2013. Watch their website for updates and changes.
Are you interesting in volunteering some time to restore these classic PCC cars? Tuesday / Thursday work sessions at the MTS yard in downtown San Diego have resumed to resemble cars #530 and 531. Please contact San Diego Vintage Trolley Project Manager Dave Slater ( ) for details and to get authorization to be on the MTS property.
|Photo by SDVT Photographer Run Sutch.|
Welcome PCC #531!
SDERA has been gifted a 1946 St. Louis Car Co. PCC streetcar from the San Diego Vintage Trolley, Inc. from their fleet. Car #531, presently at the downtown San Diego trolley, will become part of the exhibit at the National City Depot and will not restored to service by the San Diego Vintage Trolley group. The San Diego Vintage trolley already has car # 529, which has been beautifully restored and will return to service soon after extensive rewiring. Two Philadelphia cars and a New Jersey transit unit are also still slated for restoration and operation. San Diego Trolley's new fleet of cars has left little room for the larger fleet of PCCs. The fate of car #530 has not been announced yet.
The 531 was formerly Muni 1170. Some items have been restored while others have not. It had roof repairs in April 2013 so it can be displayed outside. Funding sources are being explored to move the unit the short distance to the National City Depot. For additional details on how to donate, see our Donate page. Donors who wish to be recognized will have their names memorialized in a prominent place on or in this car.
|Photo by Jeff Trimble|
Vienna Cars Get Repainted
Our Vienna N1 streetcars from Austria recently received a fresh coat of paint thanks to our sponsors! Originally, the cars were imported to the U.S. to run the streets of San Diego's Gaslamp District but their single truck design made it difficult to negotiate tight curves.
We have three of these amazing cars at the Depot - one in our south lot and two in the north lot awaiting some restoration. If you are interesting in helping with this effort, contact one of our staff to volunteer!
For details on these cars and their history, please see Chuck Bencik's article about these cars.
Old Spaghetti Factory Birney Car Sports Historic San Diego Colors!
The Birney Car from the Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant in Downtown San Diego was purchased and donated to the SDERA by Sam Judd, one of our members in memory of his father, long-time streetcar fan Lyle Judd. The car was removed from the building (quite a feat!) on Monday, February 14, 2005 from a hole on the 5th Ave side. It is now in the south Depot yard. Photos of the move can be found in our Photo Gallery. For more information and picture of the car inside the restaurant, see our February 2005 Newsletter - Trolley Lines. For pictures of the move, see the April 2005 Newsletter.
This car now has the yellow scheme from the 1916's with the yellow body and brown roof and numbered 336 to be consistent with San Diego Electric Railway Company road numbers.
We Can Accept On-line Donations!
You can now donate using your credit card on-line! Click on the Donate button to the left to get this started. You don't need a PayPal account to use this feature. Near the bottom of the PayPal page, look for the "Don't have a PayPal account?" section. You can use any major credit card! If you want to designate that the donation to a specific SDERA effort, send an email to and make sure we know your wishes. If you would like to see how easy it is, try a donation towards the moving expenses of our new PCC car! (OK, worth a try!)
SDERA is now on Facebook!
SDERA has its own page on Facebook! Tim Higgins and Jeff Trimble are making sure that it has the latest updates! You can "Like" us and stay informed when things happen down at the Depot or within the organization! For a sneak peek at what is there, check out the activity on our Contact Us page.
The San Diego Electric Railway Association, Inc. (d.b.a San Diego Electric Railway) exists to:
- Preserve the artifacts and equipment of the San Diego Electric Railway and other related local companies.
- Establish and maintain an active railway museum, complete with an operating, historic streetcar line.
- Serve as an educational resource showing the important roles streetcars, interurbans, and electric railways played in the development of the San Diego area.
- Preserve past and present pictures, publications, and artifacts of the current San Diego Trolley.
We are affiliated with or are members of:
- Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums (formerly ARM - Association of Railway Museums / TRAIN - Tourist Railway Association, Inc.)
- National City Chamber of Commerce
- Congress of History of San Diego and Imperial Counties
- The National Trust For Historic Preservation (Washington, D.C.)
- SOHO - Save Our Heritage Organization (San Diego)
- CAM - California Association of Museums
Financial and equipment gifts from people, corporations, and organizations interested in preserving San Diego's railway history make SDERA's work possible!