All aboard! Exploring the amazing Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, CA.
The non-profit Orange Empire Railway Museum has been preserving Southern California’s railway history since 1956.
The Museum has a collection of over 35 pieces of rail equipment from the far-flung Red Car empire, including many of the most iconic pieces such as the classic “Hollywood Cars” of the 1920s and the enormous “Blimps” which closed out service on the PE in 1961.
Inside a running LARy-525 – A classic ‘Huntington Standard’, the car that Los Angeles grew up with.
This weekend was a special once-a-year event called “Behind the Scenes” where visitors get special access and tours of locomotives, passenger and freight cars, streetcars, interurban electric cars and artifacts dating back to 1870. The museum has over 200 rail cars in its massive collection.
The Los Angeles Railway (LARy) was the city’s local streetcar system. The streetcars used a yellow paint scheme, so they became known as the “Yellow Cars”.
Old School MTA
Well, isn’t that special? The Pacific Electric (PE) was America’s largest interurban electric railway system, blanketing the LA region with more than 1,000 miles of rail lines. The origins of the “Red Car” system date back to 1895 with the opening of the region’s first electric interurban line connecting Los Angeles with Pasadena.
UP-4051 – The Dining Car is an important part of the railroad passenger train. It’s the place where passengers eat their meals, and it’s specially configured to cook and serve food. Originally built in 1928 as part of a ten-car order of 36-seat diners, this car was later modernized to blend in with the “streamlined” cars of the day. The upgrading included the installation of large picture windows and a modified roof.
UP-4051 – In 1964 the car was modified to become a Buffet-Lounge. The pantry portion of the kitchen was replaced with a lunch counter for passengers to use in lieu of table service. It still had a pretty big kitchen for a train. The museum actually has a liquer license and is about to start allowing the public to rent these cars out for parties. The only problem is the main line they use is only 1.5 miles in length so you really can’t go that far but they will go back and forth all day if that’s your thing.
Double-decker Irish Tram.
Sacramento-Northern-653 – The 653 is an electric locomotive designed for hauling freight trains. It was used in the rich agricultural region of northern California’s Sacramento Valley. It is representative of electric locomotives operated by many interurban railways in the early decades of this century.
Comfort Latin Style
But they can talk on their cell phones all day now.
PE-1407 – This car was built in 1913 for Southern Pacific’s “Red Electric” system operating out of Portland, Oregon. As “wrecker” 008, it was used to move tools and supplies to the scene of accidents. It was sold for scrap in 1959 and eventually made it to the museum for its forever home.
…San Diego Zoo that is.
…not as you exit.
BP in SD
PCC-528 – The San Diego Electric Railway was part of a network of public utility, real estate and transportation companies controlled by one of the great builders of San Diego, John D. Spreckels (of Spreckels Sugar fame). Like most American transit systems in the 1930s, they found their ridership declining due to the popularity of the private automobile, the spread of the suburbs beyond the areas served by the system, and the effects of the national depression. In 1937 they purchased 28 of these modern PCC-type streetcars (numbers 501-528) in an attempt to lure back riders.
ATSF 193673 was a Foreman’s Car made of wood and built in 1932.
PE-314 – This car was built for the Northwestern Pacific, an interurban railway in the San Francisco Bay area. Owned by the Southern Pacific, the NWP operated electric trains from points throughout Marin County to a ferry boat terminal at Sausalito. Passengers transferred to ferries at Sausalito to complete their journey south into San Francisco. The NWP was abandoned in 1941, following completion of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 314 was remodeled into its present configuration during a 1946-7 modernization program. The work included new interiors, seating and the famous “butterfly” paint scheme. The “Blimps”, as they came to be known, were used on the PE’s Southern District lines out of Downtown L.A, (including the route known today as the Metro Blue Line to Long Beach). In service until 1959, car 314 is one of three PE “Blimps” preserved at the museum.
A Star is Born
LATL-9225 is a self-propelled crane car; it has an operator’s cab at one end, and a five-ton capacity crane at the other. Track construction projects were the most common use for this car, and it remained in service until the end of Los Angeles streetcar operations in 1963.
LARy-Descanso – Interior view looking towards the chapel area of the car. Trolley funeral service was available in many of America’s large cities in the early decades of the 20th Century. The LA Railway offered funeral car service from 1909 until about 1924. In the days of unpaved roads and horse-drawn hearses, the trolley funeral car offered a more dignified ride to one’s final resting place.
LARy-Descanso – Casket doorway with stand. For $25, the car could be chartered to transport the funeral party to and from one of several on-line cemeteries. The small doors below the oval window on the side of the car permitted a casket to be loaded inside. Upon arrival at the cemetery, the casket would be transferred to a special rubber-tired carrier and wheeled to graveside.
Scoop There It Is
LARy-1201 was the first of 250 “Type H” streetcars; the Los Angeles Railway’s first steel-bodied double-truck cars. The Type H cars were built with the familiar “California style” open/closed/open architecture of the earlier wooden designs, and had Spartan interiors with wooden slat seating.
Yellow Car Heaven
LARy-525- You can’t go to a train museum and not get a new train conductor hat.
Next stop Civic Center.
Yellowing on the loop.
“Take This Car To Bullock’s Downtown”
Inside the Ruffulo Carhouse 7, a restoration area filled with trains and trolleys that is not usually open to the public.
One day she’ll be ready for her close-up.