When retired Army Colonel John S. Porter settled in Poway in 1948, he had a dream: revitalize Old Poway and make it a place for folks to come and enjoy the old west. Through the years, Colonel Porter acquired and built the beginnings of a historic village. Included in his dream was the purchase of a 1907 Baldwin Number 3 Steam Engine and a half-mile track. "The Poway Village & Rattlesnake Creek Railroad" operated during the 1960s for special events such as the Fourth of July and Pow Wow Days. When Colonel Porter died in 1979, he had not completely fulfilled his dream of a fully operating historic village. In 1986, the City of Poway purchased the 4.75-acre Porter estate and "Old Cantankerous" the Baldwin Steam Engine, and its rail. The city undertook the completion of Colonel Porter's dream and built Old Poway Park.
Historic buildings from around Poway were brought to the site and restored. Included are Poway's first assembly hall, the International Order of Good Templars Hall and the Nelson House. The 2 existing buildings, the Porter House and the Hamburger Factory were refurbished. A train barn was built to house the steam engine, a 1938 Fairmont Speeder and ore cars, and an 1894 L.A. Yellow Trolley. The Overshiner's Blacksmith Shop and the Gazebo were built to enhance the ambiance of the "turn of the twentieth century" setting. A two-acre green park for picnics was styled after the Teddy Roosevelt National Park system. The park officially opened in July 1993.
Old Poway Park is a dream come true. As Colonel Porter's wife said, "What the city has done to the property was exactly what my husband had planned."