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Griffith Park & Southern Railroad train trip 10/16/2016

by Chris Guenzler

Robin Bowers picked me up and we took Interstate 5 to Griffith Park and since we were early, drove Zoo Drive south where I spotted a sign that read "Train Rides" and we pulled into the parking lot of the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad. I gave my card to our engineer who told me the ticket office opened at 10:00 AM and the train would run shortly thereafter. She also told me the length of the ride was one mile.

Griffith Park & Southern Railroad

Located near Los Feliz Blvd and Riverside Drive at the South end of Griffith park, GPS Railroad occupies a location where miniature trains have operated since the late 1940's. The earliest record we have of a train operation begins in 1948 but these is some evidence that a train was there in 1946.

The current ride was built in the mid 1960's. The station, passenger loading structure, train barn, tunnel and bridge were all built at that time. The track is approximately 1 mile long. The track gauge is 18.5 inches which is almost exactly one-third the gauge of standard, full-size railroads. This gauge is unique to our knowledge in the United States.

The trains that run at GPS are one-third scale reproductions of classic American trains of the 20th Century. The Freedom Train is one of the original trains that operated in the 1950's. It and the others others are not exact scale models but rather provide the same look and feel as the full-sized trains in a smaller, more usable package.

GP Rah Enterprises, LLC operates specialty family recreation facilities under various concession contracts in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. It has operated the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad since 1972 and the Travel Town Railroad since 1978. It also operates a simulator ride at Griffith Park & Southern Railroad. We are currently pursuing other opportunities in California and elsewhere.

Some Statistics

Our miniature railroads carry almost 600,000 passengers each year. Weather permitting, we operate 364 days a year, closing only on Christmas Day. The trains travel over several bridges, including a 60 foot long wood and steel box girder bridge. We also go through an 80 foot tunnel and past several attractions, including the Western Old Town.

Our track at Travel Town Museum is approximately three-eighths of a mile and we make two loops around the outdoor exhibit of historically-significant locomotives and passenger cars. We have five locomotives and 21 passenger coaches available for operation year round in the parks.

Operating at Griffith Park & Southern Railroad:

The Colonel Griffith - 2-8-0 locomotive built by Severn Lamb Ltd. in 1983.
The Freedom Train - A streamliner built by the All American Streamliner Company of Los Angeles.
The Stanley Diamond - A 2-6-0 mogul built by Gerry Bowden in 1993.
Ten Pullman style, five seat steel coaches built by All American Streamliner of Los Angeles.
Three six seat wood gondolas built by Skeets Simpson in 1993 after a design by Erik Thomsen of Redwood Valley Railway.

Our Trip and Ride

I walked to the station ticket window.

You get your ticket from a window at the station. Once they were ready, they took our tickets but allowed us to photograph the engines of both trains.

Our train would be pulled by Colonel Griffith, a 2-8-0 locomotive, built by Severn Lamb Ltd. in 1983.

The other train would be pulled by the Stanley Diamond, a 2-6-0 mogul, built by Gerry Bowden in 1993.

Both trains waiting for their departure time this morning.

Another view of the Stanley Diamond.

Another view of both trains. I then boarded one of the cars midway back for my first trip on this unique park railroad.

After our engineer rang the bell and said "All Aboard!", we departed the station area.

We left the Stanley Diamond behind.

The water tower.

The train took a couple of curves.

A rooster along our route.

Pony rides in Griffith Park.

The train took a couple of more curves.

The train ran through this Patriotic Tunnel of Colors.

Robin exits the Patriotic Tunnel of Colors.

Heading for the south big curve on this railroad.

We will cross this bridge in a few minutes.

Almost to the south curve, which we would now travel around.

The train took the south curve.

On the way to the bridge.

Our train crossed the bridge.

Heading to the next curve leading to the tunnel.

The train went through the tunnel.

Robin was really enjoying his trip on the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad.

We went under many different types of trees on our trip this morning.

We passed the home of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

We soon came to a clearing.

Here you get a view of the water tower, station and the other train set.

The train took more curves on our route.

We came to Griffith Gulch.

Running through Griffith Gulch and would then take the north loop.

Views as the train took the north big curve on this railroad.

We passed under another wire tunnel but this one had nothing on it.

Passing the train storage building.

Nearly back to the station area.

The train ran by the train storage building.

We had returned to the station area where we detrained but I wanted one more picture.

The rear of the two trains at the station. I then exited the platform and thanked the crew for a great ride this morning.

One last view of the station before we headed to our next destination of the morning. I had really enjoyed my trip on the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad.