Firsts in San Bernardino

1810 - First Time the Area

was called San bernardino

(by Father Dumetz on

May 20, 1810).




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

August 01, 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)


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.


August 28, 1830 - "Tom Thumb"

      "Tom Thumb", 0-4-0 Steam Locomotive

*  This is the first successful steam locomotive built in America.

*  It was built by Peter Cooper for the B&O Railroad.

*  Previously the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad relied on horses to pull its passenger and freight trains.

*  This locomotive had an upright boiler, short wheelbase and a geared drive.

*  On August 28, 1830, "Tom Thumb" carried the B&O directors in a passenger car to Ellicott's Mills.

*  It hauled passengers until March 1831, but was never put into regular service.

*  It was salvaged in 1834.  As it was a demonstration engine, no engineering drawings of it exist.

(extracted from the B&O Railroad Museum website) 

Above is a Replica of the "Tom Thumb" located in the B&O Railroad Museum

Click here to see a photo history of other early steam locomotives.


August 4, 1852 - Sacramento Valley Railroad

Below is a copy of the 1854 map of the proposed Sacramento Valley Railroad as it appeared in a local paper.

The map is difficult to read because it is oriented with West at the top.  If you rotate it so North is at the top, the lettering is sideways, but the towns are in proper perspective, i.e., Stockton is below Sacramento, etc.





Expansion goal.











San Francisco






During the first half of the nineteenth century California was known mostly for its ports and Spanish missions. But all that changed in 1848, when James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill, east of Sacramento.

On August 4, 1852, the Sacramento Valley Railroad became the first railroad in California to file papers of incorporation, although it was not until February 22, 1856, that the first train operated over the 23-miles of track that ran from Sacramento to Folsom.  The SVR's plan to expand to Marysville never materialized.

The first president of the Sacramento Valley Railroad was Commodore Corneluis Garrison and William Tecumseh Sherman, the future American Civil War General,was selected as the first vice president.

The Sacramento Valley Railroad may have been the first railroad to be incorporated in the state, the oldest working railroad in California was the Arcata and Mad River Railroad, operational since December 15, 1854. 

In 1877, the Sacramento Valley Railroad was consolidated with the Folsom and Placerville Railroad to form the Sacramento and Placerville Railroad.

The railroad eventually became a part of the Southern Pacific Railroad.


August 18, 1929 - Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart signed the above receipt for fuel when she landed in San Bernardino in 1932. She was also here for the 1929 Powder Puff Derby.

Do you remember these two great aviation firsts?

*  Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927

*  Wiley Post and Harold Gatty's 15,474 mile flight around the world in 1931

Between these two historic flights another aviation first took place, the First Women's Air Derby, part of the 1929 National Air Races and Aeronautical Exposition.

Will Rogers called it the "Powder Puff Derby", the name by which the race is most commonly known.

Nineteen pilots took off from Clover Field in Santa Monica on August 18, 1929 (another left the next day).  About a half hour later they landed in San Bernardino at Federal Field (east of Waterman Avenue between 3rd and 6th Streets), the end of the first lap of the race.

Before the race began, the Exchange Club met on the roof of the Fox Theater building on Court Street and painted “SAN BERNARDINO” in 12 foot high letters, hoping the fliers would see the sign

Among the fliers were Amelia Earhart, Ruth Elder and Florence Lowe Barnes.  Amelia Earhart and her fellow aviators made it to San Bernardino, had dinner and spent the night at the California Hotel before resuming the race the next day.

Fifteen made it to Cleveland, Ohio on August 26 and were greeted by 18,000 spectators.  Louise Thaden finished the race first and Amelia Earhart was third.