Firsts in San Bernardino

1997 - First Time that

the San Bernardino Fire

Department's 1890 Hose

Wagon was in the Rose





Wednesday 9 AM - Noon
Saturday 10 AM - 3 PM

FREE Admission

FREE Parking

FREE Tours

1170 W. Third Street
San Bernardino, CA 92410

Map & Directions

San Bernardino
Historical &
Pioneer Society

P.O. Box 875
San Bernardino, CA 92402


(909) 888-3634 


Depot & Museum Tour

February 07, 2018

Tours will  be conducted

on  the  first Wednesday of

each month at 10:00 am.

Call (909)  888-3634  for

a reservation.  FREE


Group Tours

For a Group Tour on

Saturday or any other 

day call (909) 888-3634.


Virtual Museum Tour

Click here for visual tour

of the museum.


Photo Histories

Click here to view local San

Bernardino and railroad

photographic histories.


Click here for the Santa 

Fe Railway Historical and

Modeling Society.


Norton AFB Museum

Now Open:

Thursday 10:00 to 2:00

Saturday  10:00 to 2:00



Next Meeting at Coco's

The next meeting of the

National Association of

Retired & Veteran Railway

Employees will be held

at Coco's Restaurant.





Upcoming Events:

The Museum is open on:

Wednesday 9:00 to 12:00

Saturday 10:00 to 3:00  (Virtual Museum Tour)

 July 15, 2018 - 100th Anniversary of San Bernardino's Santa Fe Depot


January 1, 1997 - Restored 1890 Hose Wagon

San Bernardino Fire Department's 1890 Hose Wagon is waiting to begin its participation in one of the Tournament of Roses Parade (SBH&PS)

*  The 1890 horse-drawn hose wagon was built by Allen Iron Works, located at 368 Third Street.

*  It was used by the San Bernardino Fire Department until the 1920s when it was replaced by a motorized vehicle and the wagon was sold by the City. 

*  In 1982 the hose wagon was discovered to be at the County Museum and was in very poor shape.  A restoration project was begun but faltered and the parts were put into storage.

*  In 1996, the wagon was moved to the Pioneer Fire Museum in San Bernardino where the restoration was completed.  Vic Fisher, a skilled craftsman, spearheaded the restoration project.

*  On January 1, 1997, the restored 1890 Hose Wagon made its first appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade.  Since then it has appeared in seven more Rose Parades.

*  The 1890 Hose Wagon is owned by the San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society (SBH&PS) and is on display in the San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum.

Click here for a pictorial history of San Bernardino's participation in the Tournament of Roses Parades.


January 01, 1885 - Horse Cars 

The driver shown here in 1889 is Lucas Westhoff. (Photo from San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society)

Public transportation in San Bernardino began with simple horse-drawn streetcars (they were called horse cars even though they were usually pulled by mules).

In 1885, the City Street Railroad Company was organized and their horse cars traveled up and down "D" Street and along the Third Street, providing service from the Santa Fe Depot to downtown San Bernardino.

The mules often balked at their heavy tasks making for noisy rides and sometimes unpredictable schedules. 

In 1901, the San Bernardino Valley Traction Company (SBVT) was incorporated, becoming the first company to operate electric streetcars in San Bernardino.  It was not long after that the horse cars began to disappear.

In 1904, Judge Oster dissolved the City Street Railroad Company.


On January 12, 1888, the San Bernardino, Arrowhead & Waterman Railroad Company began construction of a railroad line from San Bernardino to Harlem Springs (hot springs and amusement park).

In June of that year, the company secured a franchise for a horse car line to transport passengers from 7th Street and A Street (now Sierra Way) to downtown San Bernardino.

By November 1888, the horse car line was completed.  Two horse cars were bought for $1,100 each and two mules were obtained.

On March 6, 1893, operations on the narrow gauge railroad to Harlem Springs were suspended.  In January 1894, the horse car line, starved for passengers, was abandoned as being unprofitable.


January 28, 1855 - Panama Railroad

Harper's New Monthly Magazine, January 1859

*  Why do we care about a railroad in Panama?

*  On January 24, 1848, John Marshall discovered gold in the American River, near Coloma, California. This was the beginning of the Gold Rush of '49.

*  Miners flocked to California from all across the country, at times traveling months overland.

*  From the East coast, they would often travel by sea, sailing around Cape Horn at the tip of South America or to Panama and then through the jungle to the Pacific and another boat ride to California.

*  The Panama Railroad changed all that...

*  Work began in May 1850, to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by a railroad covering 47 miles of jungle, rivers and swamps, often in drenching rains.

*  Sand-flies, snakes, poisonous insects and alligators were the least of the problems. Thousands of men died due to cholera, dysentery, yellow fever and smallpox.

*  Despite the loss of life, the intolerable working conditions, the logistic difficulties and the immense engineering obstacles, the railroad began operation on January 28, 1855 (some 28 years before the first train arrived in San Bernardino).

*  The railroad was an immediate success and later played a vital role in the construction of the Panama Canal. 


The First Train Arrives in San Bernardino

For over 11 months the Southern Pacific Railroad prevented a train from entering San Bernardino from the South.  Southern Pacific used legal and physical means to prevent the train from crossing the SP east-west track at the Colton Crossing. 

Virgil Earp (a special agent for Southern Pacific and later the first City Marshall of Colton) led the group that prevented California Southern Railroad from heading north to San Bernardino.

On September 13, 1883, after a court order was issued and an "at grade" crossing (called a "frog") was installed, the first train arrived in San Bernardino from National City (just south of San Diego).  The train, pulled by Engine No. 4,  was operated by the California Southern Railroad, later owned by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

Fred T. Perris, a civil engineer and surveyor for the railroad, was at the whistle.  (Photograph by H. B. Wesner) 

Note: On August 28, 2013, a public celebration was held to dedicate the opening of the new Colton Crossing Rail-to-Rail Grade Separation.  After 130 years the east-west Union Pacific Railroad tracks were raised to pass over the north-south BNSF Railroad tracks.  This will alleviate congestion at the crossing, which accommodates more that 100 trains each day.


Steam Locomotion (1769 - 1927)


Click here to view a short Photo History of Steam Locomotives that was extracted from The History of Transportation, published by The Railway Education Bureau in 1927.