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Metrolink to San Bernardino and Los Angeles; Angels Flight Railway ~ May 3rd, 2010

by Elizabeth Guenzler

After yesterday's steam excursion, I was ready for more train riding. Today, a triangle trip on Metrolink from Santa Ana to San Bernardino, then San Bernardino to Riverside, Riverside to Los Angeles, a stop at Angels Flight Railway, then Los Angeles back to Santa Ana. After breakfast at Polly's, Chris picked us up and drove us to the Santa Ana station.

The imposing and impressive Santa Ana station (trackside view) that immediately caught my fancy and would become very important to me in future years.

The pedestrian bridge over the tracks as seen from Track 1 as we waited for our train to San Bernardino.

Train 800 at San Bernardino led by MP36 891.

The new Hyundai-Rotem passenger cars that Metrolink acquired were being unveiled today. We had a few minutes between trains to look around the San Bernardino station museum.

Vintage fire truck.

Railway displays and memorabelia.

Historic photographs inside the museum. All too soon, it was time to continue our journey.

Our next Metrolink train had Utah Frontrunner coach 3178 (nee New Jersey Transit comet car) in the consist. This was the first time we had ridden, or seen, such a passenger car.

Metrolink 704 at Riverside with F59PH 868 on the point.

A BNSF double-stack freight train passes through Riverside (one of seven we saw) during the layover here. Upon our arrival in Los Angeles, we walked the few blocks to Angels Flight Railway.

Angels Flight Railway History

Angels Flight is a landmark 2'6" narrow gauge funicular railway in the Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles. It has two funicular cars, Olivet and Sinai, running in opposite directions on a shared cable, on the 298 feet long inclined railway. The funicular has operated on two different sites, using the same cars and station elements. The original Angels Flight location, with tracks connecting Hill Street and Olive Street, operated from 1901 until it was closed in 1969, when its site was cleared for redevelopment. The second Angels Flight location opened one half block south of the original location in 1996, with tracks connecting Hill Street and California Plaza.

Built in 1901 with financing from Colonel J.W. Eddy, as the "Los Angeles Incline Railway", Angels Flight began at the west corner of Hill Street at Third and ran for two blocks uphill (northwestward) to its Olive Street terminus. Angels Flight consisted of two vermillion "boarding stations" and two cars, named Sinai and Olivet, pulled up the steep incline by metal cables powered by engines at the upper Olive Street station. As one car ascended, the other descended, carried down by gravity. An archway labeled "Angels Flight" greeted passengers on the Hill Street entrance, and this name became the official name of the railway in 1912 when the Funding Company of California purchased the railway from its founders. The original Angels Flight was a conventional funicular, with both cars connected to the same haulage cable. The railway was closed on May 18th, 1969 when the Bunker Hill area underwent a controversial total redevelopment which destroyed and displaced a community of almost 22,000 working-class families renting rooms in architecturally significant but run-down buildings, to a modern mixed-use district of high-rise commercial buildings and modern apartment and condominium complexes. Both Sinai and Olivet were then placed in storage at 1200 South Olive Street in Los Angeles. This was the location of Sid and Linda Kastner's United Business Interiors. At this location the Kastners maintained "The Bandstand," a private museum. The Bandstand featured antique coin-operated musical instruments where one of the cars (Sinai) was on display in the museum. Olivet was stored in the garage of the building. They were stored at this location for twenty-seven years at no charge in anticipation of the railway's restoration and reopening, which according to the City's Redevelopment Agency, was originally slated to take place within two years.

After being stored for twenty-seven years, the funicular was rebuilt and reopened by the newly formed Angels Flight Railway Foundation on February 24, 1996, half a block south of the original site. Although the original cars were used, a new track and haulage system was designed and built, a redesign which had unfortunate consequences five years later. As rebuilt, the funicular was 298.6 feet long on an approximately thirty- hree percent grade. Car movement was controlled by an operator inside the upper station house, who was responsible for visually determining that the track and vehicles were clear for movement, closing the platform gates, starting the cars moving, monitoring the operation of the funicular cars, observing car stops at both stations and collecting fares from passengers. The cars themselves did not carry any staff members. Angels Flight was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 13, 2000.

My first view of the Angels Flight Railway.

Looking up the funicular railway.

Passing the southbound car.

Approaching the middle part of the ride.

The story and pictures of Angels Flight railway was on a circular pole and therefore not easily photographable. We enjoyed our ride then walked back to LAUPT and rode Metrolink back to Santa Ana. Chris' mother, Nancy, had prepared a delicious meal for the three of us and to end the day, and our visit, Bob and I accompanied Chris to the monthly Orange County Railway Historical Society meeting.

Looking up at the bell tower inside Santa Ana station. It was here that the OCHRS meetings were held for several years.

The chandelier looking up to the roof.

Members of the Orange County Railway Historical Society watch the presentation, given this month by Chris, who recounted his trips between February and April, including the Royal Hudson trip from Vancouver to White Rock that we had done with him; and he was able to introduce us. Afterwards, he dropped us off at the hotel then took us to the airport the next morning for the flight back to Seattle.

This had been a day of fun, adventure and new mileage and was a wonderful day to end this weeked of train riding. It would only be a couple of years until I returned to Southern California and new adventures.