The Coronado Railroad: A Forgotten History

When people think of Coronado, they don’t often immediately think “railroad.” And yet, the Coronado Railroad is a huge part of this island’s history! Even though it no longer runs and largely has been forgotten, this railroad once was extremely important and connected Coronado Island to many other California locations.

About the Coronado Railroad

The Coronado Railroad first opened in 1888. Originally, the Coronado Railroad Company began as part of the Coronado Beach development. The railroad transported people across the island and around the bay. As it expanded, trains ran from Los Angeles to Coronado. Other trains ran to Coronado from San Diego, and many carried supplies for the Coronado U.S. Naval base.

This railroad provided islanders and mainlanders with a way to easily experience southern California as well as Coronado Island. Many of the first guests coming to stay in Coronado arrived by train!

The railway eventually ceased operations after a series of business changes and the construction of the San Diego – Coronado Bridge. After this, the railroad was mostly used for freight transport. The Hotel del Coronado continued to received fuel transported by the railway until around 1960.

How long did this railroad operate?

The Coronado Railroad first began operations in 1888 and was scrapped for good in 1971. In total, it ran for nearly 83 years.

Many of the original Coronado Railroad train cars were sold to other railways. They were used for many years after the Coronado railway shut down.

How can I learn more?

On July 17, the Coronado Historical Association has an event for children to learn more about the history of railroads in Coronado. This is an interactive learning experience and is perfect for kids in JK – 5th grade. You can find more information here.

If you’re an adult–or out of this event’s age range–you can still visit the Coronado Historical Association to learn more about railroads and how they’ve impacted Coronado’s history. The CHA has a collection of documents, photos, artifacts, and more dating back to the earliest days of Coronado. Dive into the history of Coronado’s railways and even more of Coronado Island’s history!

Stay on Coronado Island

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in history is to stay in the place you’re learning about! When you stay on Coronado Island, you’ll have access to the island’s incredible history as well as its many modern activities. Aside from its award-winning beaches, Coronado also has incredible restaurants (check out our list of the island’s best fish tacos here), many shops and boutiques, and other activities both on the island and nearby!

Stay at Crown City Inn while you’re in town to experience our wonderful amenities (including free bicycle rentals!), relaxing rooms, and proximity to many of the island’s events!

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