October 25, 2012

The Ghost Train of Griffith Park

It took me almost two years to ride the tiny train in Travel Town, and I refused to do it alone.

But once I'd done it (with a partner in crime), why stop at just one tiny train?

Why not ride every tiny train in Griffith Park?

The next one on my list is operated by the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum, and runs the same course at the same scale as it was originally built by Walt Disney, who reportedly was a railroad fanatic.

There is a remaining structure from Walt's former property in Hombly Hills (Beverly Hills adjacent), dubbed "Walt's Barn." It's only intermittently opened to the public by the Carolwood Pacific Historic Society, which operates it on behalf of the Walt Disney Family Foundation.

The barn itself - which was originally located on Carolwood Drive - is known as "the birthplace of Imagineering" and was where Walt himself would monitor the railroad he'd built in his backyard, and control the switches.

The Carolwood Pacific Railroad was the focus of Walt's energies from 1950-53, until he shifted them to the creation of something even more magical: Disneyland.

Now, thanks to the Los Angeles Steamers, families and childless railroad fanatics can ride a variety of tiny locomotives that run the mile-and-a-half steel track (steam, diesel, electric) through Griffith Park...

...across bridges, through tunnels, and along the canyon walls of the park.

This month, the track and its surrounding areas are decked out for Halloween and the Steamers' fundraiser Ghost Train Ride. Oddly, it's nearly as scenic in broad daylight as it is at night.

Here's a taste of the 20 minute ride:

But it's only nearly as scenic. When I took the daytime ride, one of the volunteer conductors kept telling me, "You gotta come back at night."

So that very same night, I did.

And boy am I glad I did.

I cannot describe to you how cool it is.

It's not scary - nothing jumps out at you - ...

...but it's an attraction with plenty of lights, sound effects, mist, and animatronics.

For a person like me that likes shiny things, it is pure glee.

I'm fortunate to have found another partner in crime to ride the Ghost Train at night with me, and someone who enjoyed it as much as I did.

After all, if you're going to ride a tiny train as a grown adult with no offspring in tow, you might as well do it as a pair.

And there is no sense on missing out on it altogether.

Related Post:
A Travel Town Birthday in Griffith Park
A First Time for Everything

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1 comment:

  1. It was probably about 1967 when Travel Town sold birthday parties held in a rail car. We did that for our twins 7th birthday and some of their friends. We and they had a good time. Also got to ride on a couple different tiny steam trains. Back then Disney had no presence in Griffith Park. About 15 years ago when my wife and I (tonight 12/20/2023 is our 62 wedding anniversary) were down from the SF bay area and went to Travel Town. The little steamers weren't running that day but while walking around there was a barn-type structure and inside was a roped off display of a gray 1946 Nash club coupe Ambassador car. It appeared to be the exact car that was my first car in 1950 when I was 16 years old living in Burbank. In 1951 dad had written a TV pilot for Tales of the Texas Rangers, a popular radio show originated by Stacy Keach. Dad and I in the Nash, Stacy with Charlie Van Enger who had been the camera man for the silent film Phantom of the Opera and another man. They had a station wagon to carry the camera equipment. We drove all over Texas with many of the Texas Rangers getting stock footage on 35 mm film for possible launch of the show.