The Old Town Model Railroad Depot, a model railroad museum based in San Diego’s historic Old Town district, will remain open under new ownership. The Depot, which was founded in 2014 by Gary Hickok, was scheduled to close on Nov. 30.
One month prior to the anticipated closing, David Lizerbram and Mana Monzavi, a married couple based in North Park, acquired the Depot, renewed the lease, and are keeping it open. Hickok will remain actively involved in the Depot, as will the many model railroad enthusiasts who operate their collectible trains on the O-gauge (Lionel size) tracks.
Now instead of being decorated with “Going Out of Business” signs, the Depot features a Santa Claus and his reindeer riding a Christmas-themed train for the holiday season.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to help this wonderful museum live on for years to come,” said Lizerbram. “My father and I spent many hours working on our train layout when I was growing up in North County, and it’s an honor and a pleasure to share this hobby with our visitors from San Diego and around the world.”
In September 2019, Lizerbram and Monzavi visited the Depot for the first time with their 2-year-old son, Miles. They fell in love with the museum and were upset to find out that it was soon to close. They couldn’t bear to see it disappear. A few weeks later, they found themselves in possession of the keys to one of San Diego’s hidden gems, with big plans for the Depot’s future.
A visit to the Old Town Model Railroad Depot will take you back in time to the 1950s, where various trains travel over a 2,000-square-foot custom-built layout. The highlight is a city at night including more than 100 buildings with lights and flashing neon signs, a ballpark, zoo, depot, industrial district, and even a working drive-in movie theater. Continuing on your journey, you will pass a large farm, a quaint country town, a beautiful mountain range, a large lake (complete with sharks), and a dam with trestles traversing over a large gorge.
The Depot, located at 2415 San Diego Ave., Suite 107, San Diego, CA 92110, is open daily (except Tuesdays) from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are encouraged. The Depot includes a retail store with train-themed gifts, books, and apparel. More info can be found at oldtowntrains.com.