~ Free Event ~

Saturday, July 14   1 PM

Location: San Diego Archaeological Center


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Starting with the first horse-drawn trolleys introduced by the San Diego Streetcar Company in 1886, San Diego’s history included the growth and decline of several trolley systems. After electricity arrived, San Diego was the site of early experimentation for electric trolleys on the West Coast and home to a short-lived cable car system. In the 1890s, sugar baron John D. Spreckels purchased these failed lines and consolidated them into the San Diego Electric Railway. This railway expanded rapidly, leading to the development of new trolley suburbs at the turn of the century, including North Park, Normal Heights, and Mission Beach. Ridership waned with the Depression and the introduction of autobuses, and though it temporarily rose during the war years, this decline led to the dismantling of the trolley system in April 1949.


Douglas W. Mengers is a 20-year resident of San Diego. His passion for San Diego history was sparked when he moved into a 1920 Craftsman home in Mission Hills and began researching the family who built the house. He has since lived in several of San Diego’s old “trolley neighborhoods.” Mr. Mengers has degrees in anthropology, archaeology, and history from University of California San Diego and San Diego State University. As part of his M.A., Mr. Mengers interned at the Center, where he analyzed collections for his thesis entitled Tracks and Tracts in America’s Finest City: An Historical Archaeology of San Diego’s Early Trolley Suburbs (2016).

A Senior Archaeologist/Historian with Carlsbad-based environmental consulting firm PanGIS, Inc., he is listed on the Register of Professional Archaeologists and the Directory of Professionals in Public History, and serves on the Board of Directors of the San Diego County Archaeological Society. Mr. Mengers has presented at archaeological conferences on subjects including historical glass artifacts, Spanish-era irrigation systems, and marine archaeology. His historical research focuses on Southern California transportation infrastructure, consumerism, and migration patterns of the late 19th to early 20th century.