A critical historic site for the development of San Luis Obispo County, the Oceano Train Depot now stands as a museum and community center. The museum features artifacts from the early Chumash people and the depot’s heyday, as well as exhibits about the so-called “Duneites” of the Oceano Dunes. Visitors can enjoy learning about the area from inside one of its most historic and impactful buildings.
Historic Oceano Train Museum
The original Oceano Train Depot was built in 1896 to accommodate freight and passenger service through the little town. As such, the depot became a bustling hub of activity, with trains and telegraph service at its center. The depot burned completely down in a 1903 fire, but was swiftly replaced by a new one by the Southern Pacific Railroad – the same building that stands today.
After 1920, with the changes brought about by automobile travel, trucking, and the Great Depression, the Depot’s importance started to wane. In the 1950s, passenger service, mail and telegraph service came to a halt. The building continued to see shipment of vegetables from the Arroyo Grande Valley until 1973, when the depot was shuttered and slated for demolition. Fortunately the Oceano Improvement Association drummed up community support to save the depot as a museum and gathering place. Southern Pacific reached an agreement with the group and plans for renovations got underway.
Today, the Oceano Train Depot invites visitors, guests and locals to explore its interpretive displays, artifacts, and even its two full-sized historic train cars.
Model Railroad Days
Typically held the first and second weekends of April, this longstanding model train show brings enthusiasts together to celebrate the art of model building. As part of the San Luis Obispo Model Railroad Association, admission to this event is free and open to the public. The Oceano Depot sells snacks and used or donated model trains and accessories.
Rock & Roll Dining Nearby
Looking to take your historic railroad adventure to a higher level? Try the nearby Rock & Roll Diner, an entire restaurant housed in a 1946 dining car and a 1947 lounge car. Try American, Mexican and Greek specialties surrounded by vintage memorabilia.
Other Railroad Adventures Nearby
Central Coast Railroad Festival
Don’t miss this early October event, which celebrates railroading on the Central Coast. Railroad Festival events include train excursions, entertainment, and model railroad exhibits held throughout California’s Central Coast.
Bitter Creek Western Railroad
Located on the Nipomo Mesa, this 7.5-inch gauge railroad includes 1.2 miles of mainline track, plus sidings and two rail yards. The Bitter Creek Western Railroad (BCWR) opens to the public on a limited basis for viewing and rides for kids of all ages.
Rock & Roll Diner box cars
Dine in the belly of a 1946 dining car, built by the Pullman Standard Car Company for the Burlington Northern. Or enjoy a meal inside a 1947 lounge car built by Budd Car Company once part of the “Orange Blossom Special” passenger train from New York to Miami.
San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum
Visit this beloved railroad museum which preserves and promotes the railroad history of the Central Coast. See the museum’s restored historic railroad equipment and model railroads, and learn about the area’s long railroading history.
Travel for Good Tour at the Oceano Train Depot
The Oceano Train Depot has been restored to near original condition. Visitors can tour a real turn-of-the-century train depot that remains virtually untouched. Housed inside the walls are not only artifacts from the railroad, but historical photos and artifacts from the surrounding community dating back to the early 1900’s. Railroad buffs and former workers love to tell their stories of working on the railroad and give instructions on how to use the specialized equipment. Exhibits include the old post office boxes, coffee grinders, jukebox, and railroad equipment.
Your participation and admission to the Oceano Train Depot provides for the preservation and conservation of historic Highway 1 activities. To understand how you can contribute more to the Oceano Train Depot, please visit the Oceano Train Depot Association.
Tours are available every Sunday from 1pm to 3pm.