When we arrived in Santa Paula from Fillmore on perhaps the last weekend scenic train excursion of the Fillmore & Western Railway before they get evicted by the Ventura County Transportation Commission, I hadn't given much thought to what I would do once I got to Santa Paula.
After all, for me, it was more about the train ride itself, rather than the destination.
Fortunately, within walking distance from the Santa Paula depot, you can hit a couple of different museums, including the Agriculture Museum (a branch of the Museum of Ventura County, unfortunately not as fascinating as the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum) and the California Oil Museum...
...which is housed in the former corporate headquarters of Union Oil Company, founded 1890.
Downstairs are a lot of educational and interpretive exhibits about off-shore drilling and geology and commercial petroleum, but upstairs are the painstakingly restored offices, with their original lighting fixtures, reproduction art glass, and restored wood paneling and wainscoting.
There's even an unlocked vault full of cash ledgers and other records and important papers.
All too soon, it was time to run back to the train, after only an hour and 15 minutes to explore – certainly not enough to even scratch the surface of this Old West town, the Citrus Capital of the World, which miraculously recovered from being in the path of destruction of the St. Francis Dam flood.
On the way back to Fillmore, I decided to switch it up and board the Rancho del Oso car...
...and seat myself in its plush blue seats with ornate hinges...
...facing south as we headed back east.
Passing through orange and lemon groves...
...with a few avocado and walnut trees in between...
...we were soon back to Fillmore, welcomed by the picturesque City Hall.
It was sad to disembark from the train that I'd only just gotten to know...
...and might never get to ride again. But at least I got to it once. At least I didn't miss out on that.
Despite facing eviction, Fillmore & Western is currently still operating on their tracks in Fillmore on a week-by-week basis. Although this weekend's scenic excursion is cancelled, they are still having their "Night Train to Murder" murder mystery train this Saturday night. Tickets may be reserved by calling 805-524-2546.
To sign the petition to keep Fillmore & Western Railway in operation where they are, click here.
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