Do you hear it? Off in the distance is that unmistakable sound of a train whistle before the increasing engine rumble and clack screech of the metal wheels following the track, finally bringing the familiar sight of a train as it thunders through town.
On Saturday, April 20, 1889, it was the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad that announced to the world the birth of the new town of Santa Margarita. An arrangement had been made between Patrick Murphy, the owner of the Santa Margarita Ranch, and Southern Pacific for the railroad to run through the ranch on its way south and for the development of a new town in which Murphy would receive a share of the profits. An exciting day was planned with a grand auction to sell off lots in town. Special railroad excursion rides were available and a “grand barbeque” was hosted by Patrick Murphy, assisted by his “vaqueros.” From that point on, the town of Santa Margarita has had a view of progress as the rail connection was made over the grade and people and goods, including cattle and grain from local ranches and farms were more easily transported across the state. As time progressed, sights and sounds changed. El Camino Real running parallel to the rails was paved to better serve the automobiles and trucks moving through town.
The view from Santa Margarita has seen history as vehicles parade through town by rail and road, with each new sound signaling the arrival of something different and exciting. Kids young and old perk up to watch the train coming through, whether it’s passenger, freight or something special. We’ve been privileged to have had a front-row view when the Ringling Bros. Circus train made its final trip, or when American Orient Express, military or other trains with private cars were added. Our short section of El Camino Real has treated locals to the viewing of everything from scooter and antique motorcycle clubs to antique car tours and luxury sports car rallies passing through on their way north-south or east-west.
On Memorial Day weekend, May 24-26, you will certainly hear that unmistakable sound of a train whistle blowing, however, this whistle will be that belonging to a steam train offering rides on the historic Santa Margarita Ranch as part of the festivities for the annual Best of The West Antique Equipment Show. The show is fun for all ages and includes earth moving demonstrations, quipment displays, food and drink, military and tractor parades and more.
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