Travel through time to 1940s era Corona, and learn about how our lemons and trains helped shape the citrus industry
Inland Empire families are hard-pressed to find safe, affordable places to spend the day away from their homes. High gas prices and a restrictive global pandemic leave us all feeling a little restless and confined.
The Corona Model Railroad Society at Heritage Park offers a fun and educational experience for children, history buffs, and train enthusiasts alike.
This is the distraction you didn't know you needed, and best of all, it is free.
In 1911, the Corona Foothill Lemon Company encompassed over 2000 acres, which earned Corona, California, the title "Lemon Capital" of the World. The lemon orchard supplied lemons to our nation's east coast via railroad. At the heart of this ranch were five buildings—the owner, supervisor, and manager's houses, as well as the general store and a mule shed.
Today, houses and businesses stand where this grand orchard once flourished. Five acres and five buildings just off of West Foothill Parkway, north of Mountain Gate Park, remind us of the orchard that put Corona on the map. The building that once served as the supervisor's quarters is now home to Corona Model Railroad Society.
Members of the Corona Model Railroad Society have worked diligently to replicate mid-century Corona. The result is truly a sight to behold. Their attention to detail and commitment to the HO scale has resulted in a visual wonder which is sure to take your breath away.
What You'll See
The entry of the 1922 home is now a replicated train depot. Period luggage, a ticket door, and a waiting area transport you to a bygone era, when riding the rails was the preferred mode of travel.
Beyond the waiting room, club members in orange shirts operate a diesel train and a steam engine to the delight of spectators. Small children stand on box steps to catch a glimpse of model trains as they meander through vintage Corona, Riverside, and Fullerton. Indeed, what they see beyond the plexiglass barrier is unfamiliar territory to them but entertaining nonetheless.
The grown-up experience is slightly different. Adults experience déjà vu. These older visitors recognize the familiar hills of Corona and Riverside painted on the walls with uncanny precision. They see Sunnyslope Cemetery on Rimpau Avenue. Some adults think they remember a grocery store along the tiny train track and wonder what became of that store now.
The diorama doesn't depict an alternate dimension; it is the Corona of 1946, give or take a few years. All of the tiny buildings existed during that time, and a few still survive today.
Aside from the buildings and landscape, club members build scenes of everyday life. You can see a miniature wedding in the churchyard. They have also hidden the tiniest cat and encourage visitors to search for it. In the cemetery, a group of mourners gathers around the grave of a loved one. Very near the tracks, there is a homeless encampment. I guess some things never change.
Don't forget to sign the guestbook and make a donation if you're inclined. All of Heritage Park is free to visit and open to the public. Their ability to give complimentary access to Corona's history hinges on our donations.
Know Before You Go
The Corona Model Train Society, located at 510 West Foothill Parkway in Corona, is open to the public every Saturday between 10 AM and 2 PM. The model train operating area is accessible to folks of all abilities.
Corona Heritage Park and Museum offers ample parking and public restrooms.
At this time, the club requires that all guests and staff wear a face mask and practice safe social distancing.
As we follow all precautions and adjust to a new normal, don't forget to have fun. Make new memories, or relive some old ones, at the Corona Model Railroad Society.
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