Each year, for 40 years, my wife
and I have spent a week around Easter at Wave Crest Resort next to
Seagrove Park in Del Mar, California. During the week I like to
photograph North County Transit District Coaster commuter
trains, Amtrak Surfliner
passenger service and BNSF Railway
freight trains that travel the Del Mar bluffs as part of the coastal
rail corridor, one of the busiest in the United States. I like three
locations for photographing: 1. Our unit on the bluff at
Wave Crest Resort. 2. The bluffs just north of the Historic
Hwy. 101 North Torrey Pines Bridge over the coastal rail
3. San Dieguito River Railroad Trestle from the "Coast to Crest
Trail " between Camino Del Mar and the RR trestle.
My equipment setup for 2023 was:
Tripod with iPhone 14 Pro Max for video with iPhone XS Max for
stills, or visa versa, from the same location. My folding bike to
get from Wave
Crest to both shooting locations - trestle and bluffs.
My first location in Del Mar for train photos was the Del Mar bluffs
above South Del Mar Beach. My photo setup above.
A southbound Coaster with the locomotive and cab car on the rear
of current equipment and the white-striped car of earlier paint scheme
and one wrapped coach car.
Coaster northbound with some ocean view at the end.
My second photography outing this year was at the highway overpass at
the south end of the Del Mar Bluffs.
elaborate bridge whose arches have a uniquely Gothic appearance is 553
feet long and crosses the railroad tracks at the north end of Torrey
Pines State Beach. It has been variously called High Bridge, the
Sorrento Overhead, or North Torrey Pines Bridge. Built in 1933, it
facilitated increasing car traffic along the coast highway just south
of Del Mar–part of the main route that connected San Diego to Los
High Bridge was built to replace a railroad underpass located a short
distance to the south. The original road was winding, steep, and the
railroad’s wooden trestle was susceptible to flooding.
The picturesque but aging High Bridge was retrofitted between 2011 and
2014, thereby avoiding a proposed replacement.
After passing under Historic Hwy. 101, the tracks continue through
Sorrento Valley with Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve is on the
A Tourist Railroad owner once told
me that tracks last 50 years and if you switch the tracks left/right,
they last another 50 years. I don't think that is the case
nowadays. The tracks under the bridge are shiny only on the inland
side of the rails. Note the absence of the newer concrete ties
and clips with the old wooden ties and spikes still in use. Right
above, Passenger train speed limit on the bluffs for northbound trains
is 80 while freights have a 55 mph limit.
A daylight freight passed on the Del Mar Bluffs, and I took a
video. At the end you will see the bridge and my bike.
Northbound Siemens COASTER locomotive No. 5005 leading its consist to
Oceanside. When this train reverses back to San Diego, it will be
in push mode with the locomotive at the rear.
Following the beach back toward town from the bluffs, you see how
closely the track is to the slipping bluffs and some of the previous
stabilization that has taken place. Thus the reason for talks
about a tunnel under Del Mar away from the bluffs.
About half way between the High Bridge and downtown Del Mar is the
border between Torrey Pines and South Del Mar Beaches all of which are
experiencing slipping cliffs.
My next location for train photography in Del Mar, California,
was at the San Dieguito River Railroad Trestle taken from the "Coast to
Crest Trail" between Camino Del Mar and the RR trestle.
Northbound Amtrak Surfliner in push mode - with locomotive
at the rear and Cab Car with engineer leading.
Keep your camera handy because any time you are near the beach in Del Mar,
you are near the railroad and a train is soon to pass.
These trespassers were at the same spot of the reel above. Don't
let your kids walk on the track. This is on a curve with short
sight lines and where the passenger trains go 65 mph and freights 55
mph. Thank goodness there is a crossing horn that can be heard
from this spot (heard in the video below).
Have your camera available at all times as I did for this video showing
what 65 mph looks like and what the Del Mar crossing horn sounds like.
Home base for my train videos in Del Mar is our Wave Crest
timeshare. Our unit faces the ocean with no obstacles between our
unit, the tracks, and the ocean. We are 75 feet above sea level
with the tracks about 15 feet down the bluffs. With 30 or more
trains passing a day, there are opportunities for photographs most any
time of day.
This video is of a rare daylight freight, running between morning
evening commuter trains, with our visiting family watching.
(To see a larger copy of the image above, click it, then click BACK arrow in your browser to return to this page.)
From our unit we could see the tracks and ocean about 60 feet below the tracks.
View from our Wave Crest unit.
In the evening you can imbibe, photograph trains, and not worry about driving because you are already home!
Awaiting the next evening train.
(To see a larger copy of either image above, click it; then click the BACK arrow in your browser to return to this page.)
Images above are from our Tesla's GPS of the car's location (red arrowhead).
Blue dot is my location at the time of the screen shot.
You can see the tracks sandwiched between Wave Crest Resort and the beach.
The lawn and sidewalk shown in the right image above can be seen in images above of Wave Crest's view.
Nearest intersection is 15th and Ocean Avenue, Del Mar.
Hope you enjoyed this report. You can find my other train travelogues at TrainWeb.org/carl