(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: 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.

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

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