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Article by Allison Garton:
The depot in Jacumba Hot Springs for the San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railroad’s Desert Line was built in 1919 and handled passenger traffic until 1951. Although the adobe depot is now a private residence, you can still walk through the railyard and photograph some amazing railcars. Please do not disturb anyone and be courteous. This IS someone’s private property, after all- the Institute of Perception.
The railroad across southern California was troubled from the planning stages. Over the last century, fires, landslides, earthquakes, collapsed tunnels, all plagued the Impossible Railroad and contributed to the financial problems that make the railroad seemingly impossible to operate.
The most recent operation attempt went belly up after just a few months and never ran one train. For the truly adventurous, this rail segment includes the world’s largest curved wooden trestle – just a few miles north through Goat Canyon. That’s a trip for another day.
Depending upon when you visit, and which company is currently leasing the track, what you see around the yard may vary. However, the old wooden cars off-track will certainly never move again. They once served as housing for the railroad workers and now house bees. Tread lightly.
Personal Experience: Stumbling upon this spot and the Institute of Perception was a stimulation overload the first time! It’s nice to visit old trains filled with so much history that aren’t a 10 mile hike like the Goat Canyon Trestle. If you do go here, please go with the utmost respect and leave everything exactly as you found it. Let’s all do our part to help preserve history.