Orange Empire Railway Museum: Trains & Trolleys from California’s Past

Orange Empire Railway Museum is one of the most fun spots to explore in the Inland Empire. I had never heard of it before I went, but I am thrilled that I did and I can’t imagine why more people haven’t taken advantage of such a great place to visit. Orange Empire Railway Museum is great for train lovers, history buffs, and everyone in between, here is all the information.

Getting There and Cost

The Orange Empire Railway Museum is located off the 215 freeway in the town of Perris (not the one with the Eifel Tower). About 10 minutes off of the freeway (there are signs for it when you get off), you will find yourself at the parking lot for the museum. I swore I was lost once or twice as the town is slightly confusing, but I made it. Also, this museum is entirely free (as of 2015). You can park and see all of the trains without spending any money. The station does accept donations though, and if you want to ride the trains around the track that they have built, it cost $12 when I was there.

The Trains

The trains from this museum are all from throughout California’s history. This place is dripping with nostalgia, and it is crazy how many different pieces they have collected. They had at least three huge hangers full of trains when I was there, ranging from sleeping cars and mail delivery cars to old trolleys from Los Angeles. You can walk through the hangers and take a trip back through history.

One of the unique things about this place was all of the advertisements and signs that they had in the train cars that had remained since when the trains were in use. I have another whole blog dedicated to the signs, but the advertisements were kept entirely intact, and just seeing them alone was utterly awesome as it felt as if you had been transported back in time.

I spent a good two hours just walking around and looking at the trains. Be warned you will do a lot of walking, as the museum itself is enormous and they have to accommodate a lot of trains. There is both inside and outside exhibits.

There were also a lot of volunteers working on the trains and just walking around telling people about them. It was great to have this as I didn’t know a lot about many of the different trains, so having an expert there made it even more real, and it was cool to see the trains they were restoring.

My favorite trains were the old mail car and the Hollywood trolley with its old vintage sign on the front.

They also have an old graveyard of the signs that have been used to signal the trains over the years, many of which you can interact with by pushing a button.

For kids, they have a lot of stuff to explore and even a big playground. It is a great place for the whole family. One of the ticket events in the fall that I was saw was a day with Thomas the Train, so if you have a child that likes that, I imagine this would be a huge hit.

I cannot recommend the Orange Empire Railway Museum more. It is entirely free, has tons of history you can interact with and climb around on, and even has people there that know what they are talking about. It is an excellent museum for the whole family, so make sure you add it to your list.

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