Welcome to the San Diego Electric Railway Association!

We are in the process of updating our website and you may find some pages look rather different. Pardon our dust while these changes are made and we freshen-up our look!

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 Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 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

Car 54 Has A New Home!


The National City Depot is now the home to historic SDERy Car 54. Thanks to a grant from the County of San Diego, the car is now safe under a cover. SDERA volunteers moved the car to its new home and up on a section of rails to protect this unique artifact! This is not your typical streetcar. It is actually two cable cars that were put together!

Photo by Chris Higgins

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.

Car 531
Photo by Jeff Trimble

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.

  Birney Car 336
  Photo by Jeff Trimble

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 car barn on the north side of the Depot property! (OK, worth a try!)

SDERA is on Facebook!

FB LogoSDERA 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 SDERA 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:

Financial and equipment gifts from people, corporations, and organizations interested in preserving San Diego's railway history make SDERA's work possible!