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(Click on thumbnails for enlargement) We have a short article about live steaming in Make 01, written by Xeni Jardin. Live steaming is the hobby of making small, ride-able trains. Yesterday, my wife and kids and I went to the Los Angeles Live Steamers meeting in Griffith Park. They have a great setup there, with lots of track laid out and several trains running. They offer free rides to the public every Sunday.

The rails are only about 8-inches wide, and on most of the trains you sit atop the car, straddling it. We all hopped on the train, and I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve been on little trains before, but never this little, and I expected the degree of fun to be proportional to the size of the train. Was I ever surprised.

This was the best miniature train ride I’ve ever taken! We went through tunnels, over bridges, and through charming areas with little buildings and landscaping. Because the train was so small, and we were so close to the ground, and we were straddling the train, it felt like we were going fast. It was kind of thrilling!

If you live in LA, or plan on visiting, I recommend that you visit on a Sunday. You can get directions and hours at their website: http://www.lals.org. And if you happen to be in LA on the third Sunday of the month, you’re in for an extra special treat — you can tour Walt Disney’s barn, which was moved to the LA Live Steamers club grounds from his old estate in Holmby Hills (near Beverly Hills). Walt was a live steam fanatic, and had 2,615 feet of track and 11 switches on his 5-acre estate. Today, his barn, which was loaded with woodworking and machine tools, is “a living showcase of Walt Disney’s railroad heritage.” I can’t wait to go and see it.

0 thoughts on “Live Steamers club in Los Angeles

  1. My grandfather was a founder of the Illinois Live Steamers, which predates the LA lifesteamers. Some of my favoroite childhood memories are of going out to “the property,” a sprawling area with miles and miles of track and minitures. I also used to love to sit in the basement with my grandfather, while he hand lathed and hand built each of these incredible machines. Nothing says fun to me like the smell of burning coal or diesel. A perfect MAKE article!

  2. On my favorite trip to the Live Steamers, we derailed and had to walk back to the station! As a data point, there were no injuries and the engine was in the front.

  3. There are loads of these over the UK too. As A kid I must have visited one near home countless times, The MAlden And District Society of Model Engineers from easter until winter the first sunday of the month you could go there, buy a cheap ‘all day’ ticket and ride around on the trains to you hearts content. With that and regular holidays to Noth Wales where I rode up and down the Ffestiniog railway. oh dear I was quite the steam nut.

    Now though, my son, three years old and Thomas the tank engine crazy has started to visit these places as well.

    Lets just say that I enjoy it all as well.

Mark Frauenfelder is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Make: magazine, and the founder of the popular Boing Boing blog.

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