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Friday, June 08, 2007

Travel Town Railroad Museum at Griffith Park

Today Astrid and I took a trip down to the Travel Town Museum in Griffith Park to check out the trains. Astrid has been saying "choo choo train" since we rode the train at the Children's Museum in Pasadena. Since then it's been reinforced by reading her "Thomas the Engine" book and watching video clips of trains on youtube. History of Travel Town Museum
In the late 1940s, Charley Atkins, a Recreation and Parks employee, along with a handful of rail enthusiast friends, had the idea that a steam locomotive would make an attractive addition at the Griffith Park miniature railroad ride. The original intention of the Museum was to be a "railroad petting zoo," an opportunity for the children of Los Angeles to "imagineer" themselves as engineers. The City of Los Angeles Harbor Department had two little engines destined for scrap that seemed to fit the bill. The idea escalated as Atkins initiated contacts with major railroads in California to determine what equipment they might be willing to donate. At that time, the steam locomotive era was drawing to a close, and Atkins found a good response. Travel Town was dedicated on December 14, 1952. Today, Travel Town is in a state of new growth and development. Charley Atkins passed away in 1959, but he left Los Angeles a grand legacy at Travel Town.
There's an indoor museum as well, and one side is designated as a children's museum. Here's Astrid standing in front of a train mural they have at the entrance to the children's museum.A close up. Still chewing on her rubber toy shark.A different mural.A miniature train that kid's can touch.I had hoped that they would have a real train ride here, since they have real trains - but no luck. They only have a miniature train ride.So we took it to see how it differs from the miniature train ride down the road, next to the pony rides. It's the same price - $2 each (babies under 18 months are free). Entrance to the museum is free.The ride goes along an oval track with a view of the real trains parked in the center of the oval. I moved Astrid to the other side after taking this photo so she would have a better view.The miniature train ride goes around 2 times, and has a train conductor driving it.
The best view can be seen from sitting on the right hand side (on the inner side of the train tracks), so you can see the real trains - like this one. Checking out all the trains stationed on the lot. Again - took bad there's not a real train that that you can ride around in.After the train ride, we went to check out the gift shop. The store is filled to the brim with Thomas the Engine merchandise. Everything from trains, party decorations & favors, backpacks, books, DVDs, pens & pencils & erasers, and even socks.I was tempted to get her a blue and white striped train conductor hat, but I didn't want to risk getting it for her, and then her never wearing it. (She used to love wearing hats, but now she'll have her days when she'll refuse to wear anything on her head or in her hair.) I also realized I had dressed her in a blue and white striped overall jumper outfit, which is perfect for a day out at the trains. We didn't buy anything at the store, but it was fun to look around.The gift shop also has this really cool train set for children on display that all the kids were playing with.Uwe has been wanting to get an electric train set for Astrid, like one that he had as a child, but I still think she's too little and wouldn't appreciate it fully. But this manual one made out of wood would be ideal, since it's more age appropriate for a 2 year old. Now the difficult part would be putting it together, and finding space to display it.Once she got the hang of pushing the train around, she loved pushing it through the tunnel, and over bridges, and through the train wash.Helping the train come out of the tunnel.Pushing the train across the bridge.It's rather large and has a lot of fun features. Astrid didn't want to leave. But we had to say good-bye to the trains because it was nap time.Here she is starting to cry because she doesn't want to leave (and cranky because it's time for her nap).
Eating some organic raisins, before we head back to the car.
We might come back another day. The best feature was the gift store of all places - since Astrid loved playing with the train set there.

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