Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ride the only light rail in Riverside County!

Hey all. For those of you who aren't just transit aficionados but also railfans, I have a day trip for you. Just a short (okay, an hour and a bit) bus ride away from Riverside in Perris, CA is the Orange Empire Railway Museum. One of only two institutions of it's kind in southern California (the other is in Campo, CA), OERM has an extensive collection of retired railway equipment, ranging from their "Grizzly Flats Railroad" collection of ca. 1880's narrow-gauge steam-powered trains to the majority of the surviving Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway fleets. (Interestingly enough, while San Francisco's Muni does operate restored trolleys on their F Market line, and some carry the LA Railway and PE liveries, San Francisco has no former Los Angeles equipment.)

The museum is open 7 days a week, but a visit on weekends is highly, highly recommended. While you can wander the grounds every day, peek in the car barns and generally look at their collections... on the weekends you can ride them. Museum admission is free, and train rides are $12 for a day pass for adults, and $8 for children. The museum operates two different lines, a streetcar that travels around the museum grounds, and a full-size vintage train that travels the short couple of miles between the museum and the Perris Valley Museum in downtown Perris, which is the restored railroad depot.

Now, to get there. The easiest way to do it is to take the 22 from Riverside Downtown Terminal, or anywhere else along it's line, directly to the railroad depot at 4th and A in Perris. It's a long ride, but worth it. Try to time your trip to catch a train at the railroad depot- they arrive at a little after half past the hour, between 11:30 and 3:30. Tickets are sold at the depot.
Depending on how times work out, you could take the 27 to 4th and Wilkerson, and use the 22 or 30 to get across downtown Perris.
Cyclists are advised to bring their bicycle, if possible. (It got me passed up today, so it's not always a great idea.) The museum is a short bike ride from either 4th and A or 4th and Wilkerson, but it's a bit far to walk from the former and far too far from the latter.

Next weekend they're having a joint car show on site, and so I believe admission is a small fee, but most other weekends you need not worry about it... plus there won't be those pesky little gas-powered things getting in between you and the trains.

By the way, check out our Flickr page for photos from my trip to OERM.

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