The History of Trolley Service to Ocean Beach

by on January 18, 2019 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

Head On Trolley Accident On Early Trolley Line

OB Historical Society Hosts “Trolley To The Beach” Program

by Bob Edwards

On Thursday, January 17th, the Ocean Beach Historical Society presented a program on the history of electric streetcar service in the beach areas of San Diego. Eric DuVall, local history enthusiast and president of the Historical Society narrated an enlightening and humorous hour long slide and video presentation before a near-capacity crowd at Water’s Edge Faith Community church on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.

Mr. DuVall’s lecture included photos, maps, and documents taken from the Historical Society’s archives and other sources such as the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo. It also included numerous photos taken by Mr. DuVall as well as a video he filmed that took viewers on a speeded up, time lapse journey along the route of the first electric street car service to Ocean Beach.

Eric Duvall Presenting His Lecture, “Trolley To The Beach”

Title Slide From The Presentation; photos courtesy of Pacific Southwest Railway Museum and OB Historical Society

The history of trolley service to OB, Point Loma, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla is a complex one with multiple companies providing service along various rail lines over a fifty year period of boom and bust.

This chapter of local history ended with the elimination of trolley service  in the 1940s when private automobiles and buses replaced the street cars in San Diego. Mr. DuVall’s presentation clarified much of this involved history for the enthusiastic audience.

The humor filled lecture had many slides, including photos of train depots, unusual-styled street cars, trolley accidents, and portraits of the promoters and real estate magnates who created the trolleys to promote new real estate subdivisions as San Diego expanded.

Vintage Newspaper Article Promoting A New Trolley Line To OB

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the OB Historical Society. Next month’s program on February 21, at 7 PM, will be held in the same location and will feature “amazing artifacts” and “treasures” from the Society’s archives.

Near-capacity crowd at presentation.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy Blavatt January 19, 2019 at 2:07 am

Thanks for the overview of Eric’s wonderful program. He loves history and it shows in the details, images, and humorous events tidbits. Eric’s sidekick spunky Kitty McDanials
added a nice touch and fun to the program. She will be one of the presenters at the Thursday, February 21, 2019 “Ocean Beach Historical Society 25th Anniversary” and “Treasures from our Archives” program. Info at:


ZZ January 19, 2019 at 12:48 pm

$275 for an OB lot was plenty of money back then, but that THAT much. Daily unskilled wages were about $3 or $4 back then, so $275 was about 4-5 months wages.

Now the average full OB lot is worth about $900,000, or about 23 YEARS of unskilled labor wages.


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