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 Post subject: Venice Minature Railway
PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 1:05 pm 

Old postcard on e-Bay of the Venice Minature Ry., of which at least one engine still runs on the Billy Jones Wildcat RR in California. My understanding is that this minature railway was built for transportation as well as amusement.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2198910782&category=20198
ryarger@rypn.org


  
 
 Post subject: G16 brochure
PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2003 1:09 pm 

Also on e-Bay, a brochure for Minature Train Co. G16 streamliners. A number of these have been saved and restored in recent years. They were built in 14, 15 and 16-inch gauges, with a smaller model built to 12-inch gauge.


http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3633833373&category=13878
ryarger@rypn.org


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Venice Minature Railway
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2003 1:28 am 

The Miniature RR was another one of Abbott Kinney's ventures built to help sell his "Venice of America" real estate. IIRC, the railroad had 3 locos and ran on a dogbone-shaped route through part of the developing canal properties to the loop shown near the Venice Pier. Although the railroad is long gone, several of the iron-colonnade buildings shown in the postcard image still exist. The "BANK" bulding has been shorn of its second floor, probably due to past earthquake damage.

One of the locos went to the Billy Jones RR. I have personally heard from an authority on Venice history that one other VMRR loco still exists, in storage, in the Venice/Santa Monica area. Tried several times with him to arrange a visit to see for myself, but he was quite insistent on not revealing its location. Can anybody confirm this story???

YD


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Venice Minature Railway
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2003 12:24 pm 

The master mechanic of the Venice Railway was John Coit. Prior to the Venice RR, he operated an 18" gauge steam railroad at Eastlake Park in Los Angeles. Motive power was a 2-6-0, numbered 1903 for the year it was built. For the Venice RR, Coit built two identical 2-6-2 locomotives, the numbers 1 & 2 in 1905. Subsequently, the Eastlake operation closed and Coit brought the 1903 to Venice. The Venice operation closed in the mid '20s; however, all three steam locomotives exist via differing paths.

The Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad (Los Gatos, California) has both the #2 and the carcass of the 1903. #2 is in a SLOW rebuilding process involving a newly constructed boiler. Acquired by the BJWRR as a "basket case in the early '70s, the "3" remains a long term project. The #1 remains in her private owner's LA-area garage with some original Venice Rwy passenger cars. While the #2 has been modified over its lifetime, the #1 remains in its original Coit-designed configuration.

The #1's owner and the BJWRR have discussed many times the potential of the bringing her to Northern CaliforniaÂ… which may occur in someone's life-time.



kamiddle@rockwellcollins.com


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Venice Minature Railway
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2003 12:59 am 

> The master mechanic of the Venice Railway
> was John Coit. Prior to the Venice RR, he
> operated an 18" gauge steam railroad at
> Eastlake Park in Los Angeles. Motive power
> was a 2-6-0, numbered 1903 for the year it
> was built. For the Venice RR, Coit built two
> identical 2-6-2 locomotives, the numbers 1
> & 2 in 1905. Subsequently, the Eastlake
> operation closed and Coit brought the 1903
> to Venice. The Venice operation closed in
> the mid '20s; however, all three steam
> locomotives exist via differing paths.

> The Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad (Los Gatos,
> California) has both the #2 and the carcass
> of the 1903. #2 is in a SLOW rebuilding
> process involving a newly constructed
> boiler. Acquired by the BJWRR as a
> "basket case in the early '70s, the
> "3" remains a long term project.
> The #1 remains in her private owner's
> LA-area garage with some original Venice Rwy
> passenger cars. While the #2 has been
> modified over its lifetime, the #1 remains
> in its original Coit-designed configuration.

> The #1's owner and the BJWRR have discussed
> many times the potential of the bringing her
> to Northern CaliforniaÂ… which may occur in
> someone's life-time.

I recall reading in an issue of "The Western Railroader" that the #1903 came to the BJWRR by way of Oregon.

I recall seeing and once riding behind the #1 when it was in a small amusement ride park in the late 1950s early 1960s. This was a typical kiddy ride amusement park in the pre-Disney world. Most of the time the train ride was pulled by a locomotive looking like a diesel. There was signage telling the story about the #1. This park was called -- if I recall correctly -- "Streamland Park" and was located along Rosemead Blvd. just south of the Whittier Narrows Dam north west of the City of Whittier and also north of Montebello, Calfiornia.

Years later the engine and the cars were used on an miniture train ride located near in a County park at Legg Lake in the flood plan of the Whittier Narrows Dam. On this operation there were also some self-powered miniture Pacifiic Electric cars. I heard a story that the operation ceased operating after a near disaster from vandals placing a cable across the track where it would have surly killed the operator.

Brian Norden


  
 
 Post subject: Seek & Ye Shall Find
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2003 2:48 am 

Link below will take you to a page that darn near fills in all the gaps in the VMRR history. Surprised there hasn't been a local effort to return the sweet sound of steam whistles to Windward and Abbott Kinney. I guess with canal-front properties selling for $1M and up, the one-word response to that proposal would be "NIMBY".

Would still love to see #1 and her cars sometime....

YD

http://naid.sppsr.ucla.edu/venice/articles/rail.htm


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Seek & Ye Shall Find
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2003 3:28 am 

> Link below will take you to a page that darn
> near fills in all the gaps in the VMRR
> history. Surprised there hasn't been a local
> effort to return the sweet sound of steam
> whistles to Windward and Abbott Kinney. I
> guess with canal-front properties selling
> for $1M and up, the one-word response to
> that proposal would be "NIMBY".

> Would still love to see #1 and her cars
> sometime....

Thanks for the link. I had not seen that discription of the operation. It has some nice information and pictures.

As I recall the Interurbans Press book on the Los Angeles Pacific that was prepared by Bill Meyers had a map of Venice that shows the route of the VM.

I would like to see #1 run again. And on a trip to the Bay Area be able to include a side trip to Los Gatos and the BJWRR.

Brian Norden


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Venice Minature Railway
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2003 12:49 pm 

> I recall reading in an issue of "The
> Western Railroader" that the #1903 came
> to the BJWRR by way of Oregon.

True. The same owner previously "operated" the 1903 by installing a motor in the fire box and a chain drive to the main axle. Needless to say, there is not much original material of the old girl.

BJWRR uses passenger cars from the 19" Overfair Rwy used at San Francisco's Panama Expostion in 1914. Most of the surviving Overfair equipment is now at the Swanton Pacific Railroad (see link below). Legend has it that Louis McDermont, owner of the Overfair Rwy, was inspired by the Venice Minature Rwy yet felt the Venice operation appeared as a toy. As a result, he selected 1/3 scale or 19" gauge.

Still amazing, after nearly 100 years, that most equipment from both operations survive.

http://www.calpoly.edu/~brae/swanton/sprs.html
kamiddle@rockwellcollins.com


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Venice Minature Railway
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2003 11:12 am 

The VMR 1-spot as it is called is owned by the McCoy family who operated it in the 70s at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area around Legg Lake in El Monte, CA. Previously Al Smith (not the Swanton Al Smith) operated her at Streamland Park in Pico Rivera, CA. The "diesel" looking locomotive there was most likely a streamlined locomotive built by the Coffman Miniature Locomotive Works. Oscar Coffman and Rodell James built 18" gauge steamers in Reseda, CA in the 30s and 40s. Two survive that I know of. One is in pieces in the Napa Valley area of California that ran on the Snug Harbor RR in Oregon. The other is in New York state and is highly modified. One is a 2-6-2 the other a 4-6-4. The Hudson has been regauged to 16". Pics can be found at this site of one of the locos:
http://users.snowcrest.net/marnells/aldo.htm
Click on "pre Snug Harbor history" to see pics of it as a streamliner. I believe it operated at Streamland in this state.

The #1903 from Eastlake (now Lincoln) Park became Venice RR #3 for a time before operating in Urbita Springs in San Bernardino. It may have been rebuilt from an 0-6-0 camelback that Coit built and ran at Seaside Park I believe in Long Beach (can't remember the whole story behind that). It went to a Portland, OR street railway and ended up in a barn in Oregon. It was spotted by a Los Gatos, CA historian who recognized the VMR stack in the snow while on a ski trip.

-Ed Kelley
former BJWRR volunteer 2000-2002


gtngrr@aol.com


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Venice Minature Railway
PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 12:20 am 

> The VMR 1-spot as it is called is owned by
> the McCoy family who operated it in the 70s
> at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area around
> Legg Lake in El Monte, CA. Previously Al
> Smith (not the Swanton Al Smith) operated
> her at Streamland Park in Pico Rivera, CA.
> The "diesel" looking locomotive
> there was most likely a streamlined
> locomotive built by the Coffman Miniature
> Locomotive Works. Oscar Coffman and Rodell
> James built 18" gauge steamers in
> Reseda, CA in the 30s and 40s. Two survive
> that I know of. One is in pieces in the Napa
> Valley area of California that ran on the
> Snug Harbor RR in Oregon. The other is in
> New York state and is highly modified. One
> is a 2-6-2 the other a 4-6-4. The Hudson has
> been regauged to 16". Pics can be found
> at this site of one of the locos:
> http://users.snowcrest.net/marnells/aldo.htm
> Click on "pre Snug Harbor history"
> to see pics of it as a streamliner. I
> believe it operated at Streamland in this
> state.

> The #1903 from Eastlake (now Lincoln) Park
> became Venice RR #3 for a time before
> operating in Urbita Springs in San
> Bernardino. It may have been rebuilt from an
> 0-6-0 camelback that Coit built and ran at
> Seaside Park I believe in Long Beach (can't
> remember the whole story behind that). It
> went to a Portland, OR street railway and
> ended up in a barn in Oregon. It was spotted
> by a Los Gatos, CA historian who recognized
> the VMR stack in the snow while on a ski
> trip.

Thanks for the additional information. I had not heard about the operation at Seaside Park, etc.

I just pulled out my copy of "the Western Railroader" Issue 414 from December 1974. In that issue is a photo of the 1903 lettered as "East Lake Park Scenic Railway." Big, chuncky boilered engine with a cab proportional to the drivers and not the boiler. The tender looks large and its heigth is out of proportion to its length.

I recall being told by some long-time LA area railfans that there were trucks from some of the VMR passenger cars in a LA Harbor area junk yard in the late 30s or 40s.

I have heard that the story about Billy Jones finding the #2 in a San Francisco junk yard may not be correct. Any information?

Also the other locomotive I remember at Streamland Park was gasoline engine powered.

Brian Norden


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Venice Minature Railway
PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2003 11:22 am 

> I have heard that the story about Billy
> Jones finding the #2 in a San Francisco junk
> yard may not be correct. Any information?

That is correct. In fact, I have a copy of a photograph taken by Billy Jones at the junk yard. Subsequently, Billy bought the engine and moved it to his Los Gatos home. The tender was gone by the time Billy went to the scrapyard which resulted in the construction of the SP vanderbilt style tender that she has today.

kamiddle@rockwellcollins.com


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Venice Minature Railway
PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2003 12:01 am 

> Thanks for the additional information. I had
> not heard about the operation at Seaside
> Park, etc.

> I just pulled out my copy of "the
> Western Railroader" Issue 414 from
> December 1974. In that issue is a photo of
> the 1903 lettered as "East Lake Park
> Scenic Railway." Big, chuncky boilered
> engine with a cab proportional to the
> drivers and not the boiler. The tender looks
> large and its heigth is out of proportion to
> its length.

> I recall being told by some long-time LA
> area railfans that there were trucks from
> some of the VMR passenger cars in a LA
> Harbor area junk yard in the late 30s or
> 40s.

> I have heard that the story about Billy
> Jones finding the #2 in a San Francisco junk
> yard may not be correct. Any information?

> Also the other locomotive I remember at
> Streamland Park was gasoline engine powered.

> Brian Norden

I have been following this thread for a while now and figured it is time I chimed in.

It is true that Mr. Jones found the former V.M.R.#2 in a scrap yard in S.San Francisco in 1939 Billy paid the junk dealer $120.00 for it. He told the scrapper that he was going to place his mail box on it but obviously Mr. Jones had bigger plans for the #2. This was furtunate because Billy saved the little steamer by two hours from going to Japan as scrap metal. With Mr. Jones's acquisition of the 2spot this started the now legendary Wildcat Rail road.

The Wildcat Railroad was my start in a 26 year career in steam railroading. The #2 still one of my favorite steam locomotives.

Phil Reader
Engineer
Georgetown Loop Railroad

readers@cruzio.com


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Venice Minature Railway
PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 11:31 am 

Sorry, I didn't catch that. Yes there was a gasoline powered locomotive at Streamland Park, actually it was a railbus. It was built on the trucks and frame of an old VMR coach whose body had rotted away. It was first a covered passenger coach and was later built into the railbus. It was painted yellow and called the "Galloping Goose". The front looked somewhat like the New Haven's "Roger Williams" which was a converted Budd RDC, kind of resembled the front of a "covered wagon". There was a negative on eBay showing this train. I saved the preview as a JPEG somewhere on my other computer.

-Ed Kelley

GTNGRR@aol.com


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Venice Minature Railway
PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:27 pm 

The "Galloping Goose" was rebuilt by Don McCoy and given a new body around the original frame, trucks, and 57 T-Bird engine. In its new form it was a red Pacific Electric boxcab complete with a fake trolley pole. It was quite attractive and had a sign on front for the destination as Los Angeles. It and its trailer ran while the 1-spot was being overhauled. It was the first 18" gauge motive power to run at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area around Legg Lake, as the previous railroad there run by Seymour Johnson was 15" gauge and used a small locomotive built by Lawrence Witherhill (this locomotive is now at Clinch Park in Traverse City, Michigan).

An interesting note about tenders. The 2-spot's original tender is now behind the 1-spot, and the 1-spot is the one without a tender. That is why when Billy Jones purchased the 2-spot it had no tender. The combination between a whaleback and vanderbilt tender was built in the early 40s. Originally the oil bunker was behind the tank hanging off the back and a full-scale air pump was between the seat and the water tank where the oil bunker is today. Sometime in the late 70s, around the same time the 3-chime whistle on it before was replaced with the 4-chime Kinsley, the tender was rebuilt and the oil bunker moved and the full-scale air pump removed. It looks much better in this configuration.

Photo of the Galloping Goose
gtngrr@aol.com


  
 
 Post subject: thanks for the photo
PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 8:57 pm 

Ed,

Thank you for the photo. My description is from 40+ year old memories.

The embankment in the background would be the Whittier Narrows flood control dam.

I need to look at the family photos that my mom has and see if we took any photos at Streamland Park. By the way right next door to the amusement park was a fishing pond.

Brian Norden


  
 
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