Visiting the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum

Southern California traffic can be a big pain in the neck but on rare occasion it can be a blessing in disguise. For instance, I was recently headed down to San Diego to spend an afternoon on Coronado Island when I got stuck in major traffic around Oceanside. As I sat on the freeway I realized I was near a place I’d been long wanting to visit, the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum in Vista. Figuring there was no time like the present I quickly exited and discovered one of the best museums I’ve ever visited.

Gas & Steam Museum

Spread out over 55 acres in the heart of Vista the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum is a wonderland devoted to historic machinery, tools, vehicles and so much more. I must admit that when I first arrived I was a bit overwhelmed as there were so many buildings and exhibits to see that I didn’t know where to start! Luckily, I was given a map at the entrance and decided to just dive in and start exploring.

Gas & Steam Museum Gas & Steam Museum Gas & Steam Musem

I first checked out the museum’s extensive collection of historic industrial vehicles and it was fun to see the evolution of commercial machinery throughout the years. The next time I come across roadwork I’ll be sure to remember that at one time it was completed via horse and wagon.

Gas & Steam Museum Gas & Steam Engine Museum

In addition to commercial vehicles the museum also houses a massive amount of smaller machinery and as I wandered through the exhibit hall I marveled at the workmanship involved in their construction. Today’s machines are strictly utilitarian and I’d never consider one beautiful but those of the industrial age are true works of art and I love looking at them…even when I have no idea what they’re used for!

Gas & Steam Museum

Lest you think the museum is all about machinery there’s also a working blacksmith’s shop, a weaver’s barn, a farmhouse and even another museum.

Watch Museum Vista

Nestled in the back of the assembly building is the West Coast Watch & Clock Museum which contains an array of historic timepieces that are all beautifully restored and in working condition.

Watch Museum Watch Museum

Only open on Saturday it’s a rare treat to see.

Gas & Steam Museum

Honestly, what I’ve shared is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum. There’s also a row of steam engines, a row of gas engines, a grist mill, a model railway, a washing machine collection and so so much more. Most items are in working condition and there’s ample opportunity for demonstrations and classes. There’s also friendly volunteers around who are more than happy to share their vast knowledge about the museum collection with visitors.

Gas & Steam Museum

Thanks to a nasty traffic jam I finally was able to visit the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum and I’m so glad I did. Visiting it is a true journey into our industrial past and I’m glad that so many historic artifacts have been saved, restored and made available to the public. It’s a true Southern California treasure.

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