Railroads & Locomotives Hot Spots Historical Hot Spot: Santa Susana Railroad Depot & Museum

Historical Hot Spot: Santa Susana Railroad Depot & Museum

By David Lustig | May 2, 2023

| Last updated on March 26, 2024

A beautifully restored Southern Pacific station gives visitors a look into the past

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from Trains.com brands. Sign-up for email today!

Santa Susana Railroad Depot & Museum

biege and brown restored railroad station
Santa Susana Railroad Depot & Museum: Although currently resting a few miles away from its original stop in the Simi Valley, this station is a window back into time when similar buildings were in the center of town. David Lustig

Tucked into the far eastern corner of the Simi Valley in Southern California stands a symbol of railroading that reaches back to practically its birth; the station.

It was the station that was the main connection to the outside world for many communities, for passengers to board or detrain, where the mail, cattle, freight, and literally the life of the town itself was centered around. It was the sound of a distant whistle that was an excuse to leave the sameness of their jobs for a just a moment and be witnesses to what was probably the best interruption they would have all day.

Today, open railroad stations acting as the heartbeat of a town are few and far between. Stations that still stand are usually closed and mostly derelict. But here and there, holdouts from another age still look as good as the day they were built. They may be privately owned, or part of a museum, but their existence lets people who never saw them in their heyday learn and understand their importance in American history.

side view of depot with train in background
Situated on the Coast Line, the station still watches trains geographically paralleling the coast between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area. This is an Amtrak Surfliner of a few years ago with an EMD F59PHi on the point. David Lustig

Adjacent to Union Pacific’s former Southern Pacific Coast Line at 6503 Katherine Road is just such an anomaly. Rescued from the usual fate of excess stations across the country, owner Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District purchased the 1903 built structure in 1974 and moved it a few miles down the line to its current location a year later. In 1976 Ventura County designated it as a landmark.

Years of careful rebuilding from the city, the Santa Susana Railroad Historical Society, and countless other volunteers returned the station to its former glory. Visitors can stand on its platform and watch an endless procession of freight trains, passenger trains, and commuter trains, and with just a little imagination you can almost see 4-8-4s, 4-6-2s, and 2-8-0s on their way between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In 2000, a museum opened inside the station, which includes a model railroad layout as well as a nice collection of equipment used by employees. Historical photographs adorn the walls and the second story, where the station agent and his family lived, has been completely restored.

The museum and layout are open to visitors on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Holidays may alter that schedule.

timetable of trains on depot
Just as it might have been many decades past, Southern Pacific passenger trains, now but a memory are chalked up at the station indicating their arrival and destinations. David Lustig

For more information, go to https://www.venturacountymuseums.org/santa-susana-railroad-depot-museum/

Museum model railroad

Model railroad inside museum
Inside the station’s former freight area is the Santa Susana Pacific Model Railroad Club. For more information on the club, the layout, and when it’s open to visitors, go to https://www.santasusanapacific.org/. David Lustig


One thought on “Historical Hot Spot: Santa Susana Railroad Depot & Museum

  1. Old Saybrook, CT station on the Northeast Corridor hasn’t changed much on the inside since 1873 and lots of trains still stop there! A museum piece in plain sight.

You must login to submit a comment