The San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum opened its doors to the public on July 12, 2008. It is located in the San Bernardino train depot in the former Santa Fe Baggage Room and Railroad Express Agency Room.
The museum is a joint operation of two 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations: the San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society, and the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society (operators of Santa Fe Steam Engine 3751).
Within the museum, the Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society (SFRH&MS) maintains the Western Archives of the Santa Fe Railroad.
All facets of the museum are conducted by volunteers, as there are no paid employees.
Pioneers in front of their Log Cabin in Pioneer Park (formerly called Lugo Park)
One might say that the museum had its origins in 1888 with the San Bernardino chapter of the Society of California Pioneers who began collecting and preserving artifacts and documenting local history. This group merged with the San Bernardino Historical Society to become the San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society in 1982.
In addition to the museum, the Historical and Pioneer Society operates a fully-furnished 1891 Victorian house, a meeting hall and a research library, located at 8th and D Streets.
Santa Fe Engine 3751 and Tender at Viaduct Park, March 25, 1959 (Lloyd Neal collection)
The San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society was formed in 1981 and five years later it purchased the 1927 Santa Fe Steam Locomotive #3751 from the City of San Bernardino for $1.00. The engine and tender had been donated to the City in 1958 by the Santa Fe Railroad Company. And, for 28 years they sat on display in Viaduct Park, just to the west of the depot (the former park is now a three-level parking garage).
The locomotive was completed refurbished and has been operational since 1991. Since then, 3751 has traveled across the country and has returned to San Bernardino on several occasions.
The Western Archives of the Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society (SFRH&MS) moved into the depot in 2010. The SFRH&MS is an independent non-profit corporation devoted to preserving, studying and sharing information about all aspects of the former Santa Fe Railway.
The Western Archives of the Santa Fe includes artifacts, books, magazines, drawings, photographs, slides and a wide variety of records and documents from primarily, but not exclusively, the old Coast Lines.
See the Western Archives Newsletter.