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« Ride Concept Competition: WINNERS | Main | Downtown Disney Would Be So Lucky »
Thursday
Sep082011

Carolwood Pacific and Other Backyard Railroads

Large image 1900x2050.
Extra large image 3800x4100. 

Take a look at specific pieces of Walt Disney's backyard miniature live steam train. Enjoy amazing photos of similar railroads from decades ago and miniature railroads still in use today.

Above you see a graphic we've produced showing the basic layout of the Carolwood Pacific in Walt Disney's Holmby Hills backyard. No other graphic quite like this is known to exist. Below you see the layout of the home and railroad being compared to the current property. Note that the Disney home was no small house. But compare it to the current monster house and it looks tiny.

With these visuals you can more-easily get an idea of what the Carolwood was really like. If you look closely at the photos and the map above you'll see that the train rode the tracks in both directions. I don't know if Walt had his prefered direction or route when showing off this great toy. But you'll notice the train is going clockwise when crossing the driveway and counter-clockwise on the same track when crossing the trestle. The fact that the train went in front of the house was news to me. The tunnel was much longer than I would have expected. They say Lillian's flower beds were dug up in order to make that tunnel.  

Walt and Lillian purchased the Holmby Hills homesite in 1949. It was the last home in which either of them permanently lived. Although, at the time of Walt's death in 1966 the Disney couple was staying in the home of daughter and son-in-law Diane and Ron Miller who had recently moved to a larger home. They purchased the Miller house as a temporary place to stay as they remodeled their home on Carolwood.

Upon seeing the Carolwood location for the first time, Walt expressed that the large backyard "will do". Lillian later said that he had the idea of a miniature railroad on his mind when he chose the property. And remember, Disneyland didn't come about for another half-decade. Walt was not yet known for such "three-dimensional entertainment".

Lillian lived in the Carolwood home until her death in 1997. When the Disney family sold the house and property Diane was wise enough to relocate Walt's barn to Griffith Park where it can be visited today. New property owners tore down the Disney home and landscaping in order to build a larger, newer house (as seen in the 2nd photo). They reportedly kept the tunnel near the house and use it for storage. The new owners are supposedly "Disney fans" (which we know can mean anything). I'd love to meet them. 

The following photo is from the collection Michael Broggie, son of Disney Legend Roger Broggie pictured here with Walt. The 17"x11" printed photo was given to me years ago by Micheal Broggie through a friend. Thanks Michael Broggie!


Famous Neighbors

Holmby Hill was and is no stranger to celebrities. Some former Carolwood Drive residents include Frank Sinatra (320 Carolwood Dr.– across from Disney), Michael Jackson (100), Elvis Presley (144), Marilyn Manrow (141), Sonny & Cher (141), Burt Reynolds (141), George Harrison (265), Barbara Streisand (301– next to Disney to the east), Clark Gable (325), Gregory Peck (375– next to Disney to the west), and Rod Stewart (391).

 

Other "Backyard" Railroads

Here we can feast our eyes on some great pics from the Los Angeles Live Steamers.

 

Live Steamers of Today

Reporter for The Orange County Register and friend of the blog, Mark Eades, recently sent us one of his articles about The Steamers. Attached to the article was this fantastic video.

 

In another post by Mark we get an excellent look inside Walt's Carolwood Barn as it sits today. Thanks Mark Eades!

 
A Piece of Carolwood Pacific

A piece of the original track from Walt's backyard as seen in one of our previous posts called "Little Box of Treasures"

 

Related posts:

Walt Disney and the Santa Maria Railroad
Little Box of Treasures
The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [ PART 2 ]
The Amazing Home of John Lasseter
Walt's Wife Talks About EPCOT Center
Lake Buena Vista: The Other Prototype City with a Peoplemover

 

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Reader Comments (9)

WOW, amazing post!

The map of the track is spectacular, I also love seeing it compared to the new house! GREAT WORK!!!!!

You need to send this to the Walt Disney Family Museum.

September 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonnie

This is the kind of post that makes me so super jealous that I didn't write. Excellent job. Have I mentioned how much I want a train of my very very own?

September 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Crawford

Great post Mitch! I agree, love the map. That second house is a heck of an upgrade, but I'd rather have the land personally... and the railroad.

September 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermatthunterross

WOW WOW WOW! What a fantastic post!!! I have to go back and look at it again!!

September 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

The LA Steamers and the barn are open the third Sunday of every month? That's today! I may have to make the trek up there.

FYI, Orange County also has a miniature train club and facility. The Orange County Model Engineers are located in Costa Mesa, about 6 miles from Disneyland. Free rides to the public are given every third FULL weekend of the month. We have gone many times and even held my son's birthday there 2 years ago. From Disneyland, drive South on Harbor Blvd. about 6-7 miles (toward the beach), turn right (West) on Adams, drive 1 mile or so to Placentia and turn left (south). The railroad will be 1 mile ahead on the left, at the top of the hill. Trains do 2 laps, each lap on a different track.

September 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterunitedstyle

If the folks who bought Walt Disney's home were true fans, they would have left it in tact and preserved it as a shrine. What a shame. Hollywood is the worst in the country for preserving its own history.

January 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfuller royal

Oh my gosh I leaned against that barn when I went on the historical railroad at Griffith Park...! Oh my gosh!!!!!!!!!!! That video made me almost cry. I love model trains because Walt did and Walt is my hero <3

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDisney Princess

WOW!! Thank you for this. I have Brodie's DVD about Walt, with videos of Walt's backyard railroad. I also have the parts to build an American 4-4-0 live steam locomotive (very similar to Walt's) that my Dad bought from Little Engines in Lometa California about 1956. Dad never finished it, but I hope to some day.
I agree with the poster that stated this should be in the Disney museum.

April 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHank

niezwykła historia spełniania własnych marzeń, zdjęcia fantastyczne

July 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterklimatyzacja

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