Monday, March 21, 2011

All Aboard: Tiny Train Takeover!

From picnics, to musical events, to stargazing at the observatory, we have spent our fair share of time in Griffith Park.  Our intention has always been to visit the park's miniature trains.  After hearing from a friend who gave the train a review of the most glowing sort, we decided that the time had come and we set out on the first leg of our miniature railway journey.  We made our way up to Griffith Park and after many diversions and forks in the road we found just what we were looking for - the Los Feliz Passenger Station.  We bought our tickets, waited in line, took pictures, talked to the engineer and left parents in line wondering why were there (and why we were more excited than most of the kids).  In short, we thoroughly enjoyed our excursion.

Los Feliz Passenger Station, est. 1947
Our Engineer prepping for the round trip
The water tower and woodland birdbath
Snow White & The SIX Dwarves??
Sneezy called in sick.
Comin' round the bend
One of the many model buildings we passed on our excursion.
This one appears to be on the wrong side of the tracks.
Taking the curve nice and easy.
The Trestle Bridge
Wooo Woooo!
Entering the Tunnel
Trains & Tunnels!!
Griffith Gulch - gimme a break, the train was moving!
The natives were friendly
Boot Hill
There's always room for one more!
Mr. Tiny and The Engineer
Sounds like a great idea for a series - like a modern take on
Jake and the Fat Man with me, of course, playing Jake.

Somehow,  while still basking in the thrill of our railway ride, we discovered that this miniature train was the "wrong" miniature train.  Who knew that Griffith Park was home to more than one miniature train ride?  Our train was made up of individual cars similar to the ones used in Disneyland rides.  Apparently, the correct, and more interesting miniature train, is steam-operated, has cars that one must straddle and only operates on Sunday.  While somewhat disappointed that we didn't ride the trains that inspired Walt Disney and his gang, I am looking forward a follow up train trip.  Choo choo!!

The next station stop on our scenic railway journey was Goathill Junction in Costa Mesa.  This miniature, steam train is run by the Orange County Model Engineers, model train enthusiasts who convinced the City of Costa Mesa to allow them use of public parklands in exchange for free rides to anyone who wanted a trip.  Because the tracks run through the unguarded park, there are no model towns or miniatures along the way and, in turn, the atmosphere is a little less inspired than the trains in Griffith Park.  The beauty of nature had to suffice!  Our friend Paul of Liberty Motor Wear joined on us on this trip; next time, with a little more planning, we will live Paul's dream of using cap pistols to rob the train while riding Shetland ponies.

Steam engines
The reluctant engineer
There were more adults on our train than
kids which left us terrified of imminent derailment.
Under the bridge
Over the bridge
Round the bend
The lone building along the tracks
A scenic vista of Costa Mesa
Interestingly, Costa Mesa built a trestle bridge
that connects two areas of  the park across a major thoroughfare.
Frustratingly, the train does not cross that bridge!
The OCME sponsors a gift shop and proceeds are
used to support the continued operation of the trains.
I bought a wooden train whistle - we all have to do our part!

My interest in trains and love of miniatures was definitely inspired by this cartoon.

Griffith Park & Southern Railroad
4400 Crystal Springs Dr.
Los Angeles, CA

Hours: Daily from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Admission: $2.50

Goathill Junction Railroad at Fairview Park
Placentia Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA

Hours:  The third weekend of every month from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Admission: FREE!!!!


Mr. Tiny


    We have one in Balboa Park, too. But the ride looks way cooler in these places! Ours is kind of small (heh).