The Monterey Salinas Valley Railroad and Historical Society (MSVRR) was founded in 1993 as a model railroad club by a group of railroad enthusiasts who wanted to share their passion for the historical significance of the railroad to the development of the Monterey Bay region with children, youth and families. In the beginning, the organization simply built and operated H0-scale trains and provided educational opportunities for local schoolchildren.
In 1998 the historic Railway Express Agency building became available and the MSVRR entered into an agreement with the City of Salinas to renovate the property, and the adjacent rare 1918 S-10 super-heated Southern Pacific Switcher steam locomotive in exchange for rent. Over the years, the organization acquired many historical railroad artifacts along with a vintage wood 1916 Southern Pacific caboose, a 1923 wood-sided refrigerated car, and a 1924 Railway Post Office/Railway Express Agency (RPO/REA) car.
These gifts plus the interest and enthusiasm expressed by visitors, inspired club members to begin work on an interactive museum (the Monterey & Salinas Valley Railroad Museum) open to the public that focuses on the history of Monterey Bay railroads and their importance in creating the “Salad Bowl of the World”. The all-volunteer group has been steadily working on the Railroad Museum and is currently open to the public one weekend a month.
The Railroad Museum hosts educational tours for local schools and community groups at no charge, as well as operating sessions where kids and teens learn about the logistics of moving freight by rail and road. The organization participates in the 1st Friday Art Walk, hosts National Train Day, and participates in Salinas Founder's Day.
The Railroad Museum celebrates the connections between train transportation and the amazing history of Salinas, the Valley and the Monterey Bay region. Many Railroad Museum members are highly involved in the process of building the museum and conserving the donated artifacts, their enthusiasm and dedication is a direct result of youth mentoring taking place as part of the model railroad aspect of the museum.
Locals and visitors to Salinas benefit through the experiential displays and programs that allow a deeper understanding of our heritage, history, and the connections between historic, contemporary and future value of the railroad. Our programs inspire civic involvement and enhance the core curriculum in schools.