Railroads & Locomotives Tourist Railroad Profiles Travel Town: Where yesterday’s Golden State railroad equipment survives today

Travel Town: Where yesterday’s Golden State railroad equipment survives today

By David Lustig | March 8, 2024

| Last updated on April 7, 2024

Want to see examples of the equipment that once made California railroading so much fun to watch? Look no further than this park in Los Angeles

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Travel Town

building entrance with signage
The entrance to Travel Town. John Wade

On the eastern end of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley — wedged in between hills on one side and an endless sea of vehicular traffic from a nearby freeway on the other — lies a veritable island of railroad equipment open to the public.

Created in the early 1950s, it is officially known as the Travel Town Museum. Located just inside the edge of sprawling Griffith Park, this city-owned facility is a pleasant and affordable display with more than 40 railroad locomotives, freight and passenger cars, and other equipment, most of it tied together from spending its working lives in California.

green grass with locomotives in background
Some of the Travel Town steam locomotives. John Wade

At one time, the park even had its own operating narrow-gauge railroad: the Crystal Springs & Southwestern, .62 miles of steam powered enjoyment, powered by, of all things, a 4-6-0 that came from Hawaii.
Some of the Travel Town steam locomotives. John Wade

Inside its nicely manicured grounds, a variety of displays, mostly of smaller to medium-sized equipment await visitors.

Examples include a three-truck Heisler, a three-truck Shay, 0-6-0s from Union Pacific and Santa Fe, a 4-4-0 from the Stockton Terminal & Eastern, 2-8-0s from Santa Fe and Western Pacific, a 2-8-2 that once worked for the Hetch Hetchy, a Southern Pacific 4-4-2, and a variety of saddle tankers that switched local industries.

Visitors can also find other forms of motive power at Travel Town including an operable Baldwin RS12 light road switcher that last worked for California Western, an operable EMD Model 40 center-cab switcher, and a slew of heavyweight and streamlined passenger cars. Southern Pacific narrow-gauge freight and passenger cars are represented, too, along with a Santa Fe motor car. Tucked in between the other equipment is a Pacific Electric freight motor.

Additional information

There is a nice collection of signal equipment, and displays of maintenance of way tools, switches, as well as examples of railroad menu and China pieces.

Other pieces of transportation history include a hand drawn fire hose cart, a milk delivery dray, a chariot that was a prop in the MGM movie Ben-Hur, a 1930s Packard, and a 1948 Nash Ambassador Sedan.

Want to visit? Travel Town is open seven days a week. Oh yes, and admission is free.

red vintage locomotives with man walking towards them
Travel town’s diminutive EMD Model 40 locomotive, with its Baldwin RS12. John Wade
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