Santa Clara Depot — a Model Train Geek’s Dream

The Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History (a.k.a. the Santa Clara Depot) positively buzzes with activity. I was surprised because after visiting numerous museums in the area, most tend to be quiet in the evenings.

But, the Depot was full of train aficionados and for once I wasn’t the only geek taking photos. Look at the “HO scale” layout! It’s completely accurate!, one man exclaimed as I walked by. He and his friend then proceeded to whisper excitedly to each other for the duration of their stay. Docents stood behind the model trains controlling the engines as they made their way through the display.

The Depot is comprised of a handful of historic Santa Clara buildings: the 1926 Southern Pacific Santa Clara Tower, a Maintenance-of-Way Speeder Shed (built at the same time), and an 1894 Section Tool House.

As you walk into the building there’s a coffee shop to the left where aficionados seem to sit and reminisce. Next to this is a massive room with two large model railroads (HO and N scale). Beyond the railroads is a room full of old railway artifacts: lanterns, track switches, signs, signals, photos, newspaper clippings, and a library where museum members can go and do research.

I didn’t stay for very long and as I was leaving, a very excited birthday boy arrived with cake and boxes and parents in tow. It seems that you can book the depot for train-themed birthday parties.

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