Volunteer engineer John Ryan aboard a miniature engine.
Volunteer engineer John Ryan aboard a miniature engine fashioned after the authentic Southern Pacific Railroad. The train traveled around the South Coast Railroad Museum grounds in Goleta during during Railroad Days on Sunday. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

“All aboard” could be heard loud and clear at the South Coast Railroad Museum’s annual Railroad Days celebration in Goleta on Sunday.

The two-day event, held on the museum grounds at 300 N. Los Carneros Road, wrapped up Sunday afternoon with excursions on miniature trains traveling around the property and tours of the landmark building.

The gathering commemorated the 118th anniversary of the historic Goleta Depot, which was constructed in 1901 by the Southern Pacific Railroad during completion of the coastal route joining Los Angeles and San Francisco. 

It closed in 1973, eight years after the elimination of the local passenger trains had reduced the station’s workload to train orders and freight, according to the museum.

Goleta Beautiful Inc., a local nonprofit, took up the banner to save the structure in 1979.

In late 1980, a fundraising campaign got on track, with the creation of the Goleta Depot committee.

The landmark was moved in 1981 to its current home near Stow House to save it from demolition. The two-story, wood-framed depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources.

A model train.

Model trains were an important part of Railroad Days over the weekend in Goleta. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The South Coast Railroad Museum focuses on railway history and railroad contributions to local history.

“We are celebrating the rich history that railroads have in our community,” Steve Wagner, South Coast Railroad Museum board president, told Noozhawk. “We developed around the railroad when Southern Pacific started putting these depots in 1901. This was the hub of the community.”

Sunday’s festivities featured operating model railroad exhibits and displays, tours, antique train whistles and toy trains, and regional and local organizations providing information about rail travel, trains and railroad hobbies.

Event attendees included the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, an organization dedicated to creating a nationwide network of trails from former railways.

Neighbor Tim’s BBQ employees handed out free samples of mac n’ cheese and mouthwatering meat.

Singer and guitarist Rick Reeves entertained attendees, and the museum store offered train-themed games, books, toys, souvenirs and more.

For the first time ever, Megan Cassidy drove with her 2 1/2-year-old daughter from their Santa Barbara home to check out the South Coast Railroad Museum. She heard about Sunday’s event from a friend. 

Corinne, Cassidy’s daughter, particularly enjoyed an inflatable bounce house.

“We had a little free time and wanted to check it out,” Cassidy said of the museum. “This is a fun place to come. I like that it’s not too crowded. You are dealing with hundreds of people anytime something is going on in Santa Barbara.”

The museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and is closed Monday through Thursday.

Click here for more information about the South Coast Railroad Museum, or click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at bholland@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Visitors enjoy the South Coast Railroad Museum’s annual Railroad Days celebration.

Visitors enjoy the South Coast Railroad Museum’s annual Railroad Days celebration on Sunday. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)