There is a little place in Griffith Park in Los Angeles that is home to the Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn. The barn was built in 1950 by Walt Disney as his personal workshop where he worked on his miniature steam engines for which he was very passionate. He built the Carolwood Pacific Railroad in his spacious backyard in Holmby Hills where he had 2,615 feet of track. It get’s it’s name from the street on which Walt lived. In 1999 the historic barn was placed on the eastern portion of the Los Angeles Live Steam engines park on the North end of Griffith Park for all to see.
Now, one more piece of Disney history is going to be making it’s home on that spot. It is an original train car from the Santa Fe Railroad which made “Grand Circle tours” around Disneyland from opening day in 1955 until 1974.
The train car was part of the “Retlaw 1” (Walter spelled backwards) passenger at Disneyland. In 1992, a man by the name of Bill Norred acquired the Retlaw 1 cars, except for the Lilly Belle coach which to this day is Disneyland Railroad’s VIP Victorian Parlour Car caboose. A few years ago, four of the five Retlaw 1 coaches were sold, but Bill’s family retained the combine because of the special connection to Walt. The Norred family, concerned about the long term survival of the car, agreed to sell it to the Carolwood Foundation.
The Carolwood foundation is a non-profit organization whose primary mission is to preserve Walt Disney’s railroad legacy, and purchasing the train car for restoration and public viewing is a big part of continuing that mission.
The plan is to finish restoration of the car and put it on public display. They are on schedule to receive the car as early as within the next couple of weeks. The barn as well as the train car are only open to the public on the third Sunday of every month. They were open this past Sunday, August 15, which means that it is entirely possible that by the time they open again on the third Sunday of September, the train car could be available for viewing.
The remaining details are building the surrounding open air housing that will protect the car from the elements as well as the surrounding area being made over for public viewing. The funding for the car restoration as well as the maintainence and housing all come from public donations. The upkeep of Walt’s Barn also requires public donation and all the fine people who work the exhibit are made up entirely of vollunteers. Entrance to the area and the barn is free although the suggested donation is $3.00 per person.
The barn contains countless Walt Disney Treasures from his personal railroad history, history of Disneyland, and many interesting miniature live steam and other models. It is also known as “the birthplace of Imagineering”. The Los Angeles Live Steamer trains, which are the same scale and type as Walt Disney maintained, travel around the barn area constantly and offer the perfect compliment to the experience.
Right now the Carolwood Foundation is offering gift packs to those who donate to help preserve Walt’s barn and the new Retlaw 1 train car. With each donation tier, they add more goodies to your gift pack. Here is the breakdown:
News Butch, $30 – limited edition pin
Brakeman, $100 – above plus commemorative shirt and name recognition on the donor list
Fireman, $500 – above plus limited edition signed print
Engineer, $1,000 – above plus limited edition scale model of the car and exclusive tour of the car
Conductor, $5,000 – above plus donation plaque on display board inside the car
Trainmaster, $10,000 – above plus prominent name plaque inside the car
Office of the President, General Manager & What-Have-You, $20,000 + – above with custom recognition inside the car.
To make a donation to the Carolwood foundation and purchase any of these gift packs, visit www.Carolwood.org
For More Information on Carolwood Pacific and Walt’s Barn, visit the Carolwood Pacific website.
For more information on the Lilly Belle visit www.Davelandweb.com
For all things railroad related in California visit the Modesto Railroad Examiner page.