While driving eastbound on Miramar Road, I spotted a classic train car sitting on an abandoned railroad spur.
The 1948 Pullman car sits with 30 other industrial freight cars on an end-of-the-line track, fenced off to the public. The three-track line runs next to Miramar Road, between Milch Road and the barbed-wire fence on the western boundary of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
The long and narrow property is one of the 18 train yards nationwide operated by the Plastic Express company — a firm that specializes in transporting, by truck and rail, bulk plastic and packaging.
The first words out of Frank, the onsite manager, were, “Do you want to buy it?” Frank said that a train-company employee was there recently, wondering what is going on with the Pullman. Reportedly, the owner, who pays the storage fees, lives in Tucson and inherited it from her dad.
Frank said the Pullman used to be unlocked, so they could go inside. But kids started hopping the fence and going inside, moving things around, so it was locked. “It’s still pretty nice inside and has all the beds,” he said.
Pullman cars were luxury cars used by the well-to-do from 1862 to 1955. They featured sleeping rooms, carpeting, upholstered chairs, libraries, and card tables. Not only did George Pullman and his company manufacture the cars, his company also operated and staffed them, paying the train companies to haul the Pullman along the various routes to the customers’ destination.
The train-sales website sterlingrail.com has a similar-era luxury sleeping car with five master bedroom suites listed for $125,000. However, a 1950 Pullman passenger/diner coach is for sale for only $18,500.
The only official signage remaining on the Miramar Pullman is the car number and name at one of the entrances — “Elm Grove 452.”
The rarely used three-track line on which the Pullman sits is one of many railroad spurs that crisscross through the old industrial portions of the Miramar/Mira Mesa area. The spurs feed off the main Coaster/Amtrak line, which travels between Sorrento Valley and Rose Canyon — owned by the North County Transit District.
However, according to the Plastic Express website, their spur is owned and operated by BNSF — the Burlington Northern Sante Fe railway company — the second largest freight line in North America.