Los Angeles Union Station is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the western United States. It serves about 110,000 passengers daily, and today was busier than usual as it hosted the Los Angeles Union Station Train Festival. This 52-acre transportation hub opened in 1939. It was designed by a father/son architect team, who blended Spanish colonial, mission revival and art deco architecture (known as mission moderne). The first part of our day included the two hour train journey to Union Station where we walked through the station to the miniature trains displays, noting the tiles, designs, chandeliers and amazing fonts along the route. There were four organizations that had their various scale trains proudly set up. I would say my favorite had to be Southern California Z Scale Model Railroading Group because that scale is so detailed, but then Orange County Module Railroaders, Inc. actually allowed children of all ages to operate (with supervision) their model trains. Right across the street from Union Station is Olvera Street, where we had a delicious Mexican lunch. When we returned to Union Station we got in line to see the big trains. Where we started the line there was a sign stating the wait was 90 minutes, but luckily it took us only 30 minutes to get through. There were various trains on display, including a Metrolink similar to the train we came in on (which we didn’t tour). It was interesting to see the Amtrak sleeper cars, because two people can sleep and sit comfortably in a fairly small private space (much better than sitting up all day and night like the people in coach). There were also vintage cars, like the Tioga Pass, built in 1959 for railroad executives, and the 1956 Pullman sleeping car, which is still in use today. The friendly man in the conductor hat pictured below is actually a train engineer, who currently drives the train at Knott’s Berry Farm! The highlight for most people was the 1927 Santa Fe 3751 steam locomotive, which was the very first steam locomotive to bring a passenger train into Union Station on opening day.
On our next visit to Union Station we will be taking part in an art and architecture tour. Today there was just way too much to see and do at Union Station. Luckily Metrolink offers weekend tickets for $10 for adults and kids under seventeen are free. You can’t beat a two hour train ride for a whole family for $20 round trip!