L.A. Live Steamers Dedicate New Train Station

Councilman Tom LaBonge leads a group of officials in cutting the ribbon at the dedication ceremony for the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum's new Sherwood Centennial Station. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)


Councilman Tom LaBonge leads a group of officials in cutting the ribbon at the dedication ceremony for the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum's new Sherwood Centennial Station. (Photo by Ross A. Benson

By Stan Lynch

The Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum had a grand opening celebration to mark the completion of their newest train station, the Sherwood Centennial Station.

The new station is in honor of Gordon L. Sherwood’s 100th birthday, which he celebrated in March of 2011.  The longtime Burbank resident was one of the founding members of the club, and the only one to remain continuously active in it since the beginning.  Unfortunately, Mr. Sherwood did not live to see the completion of the station.  He died in January of this year.  Until shortly before his death, he would go to Live Steamers every Sunday, as he had nearly every weekend since 1956.

Bronze plaque on Sherwood Centennial Station honors its namesake. (Photo by Ross A. Benson) (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The new station is not only a tribute to his memory, but carries on a tradition of naming station after him.  Sherwood Centennial Station is actually the fourth passenger station at the group’s Griffith Park site to bear the name “Sherwood.” The original Sherwood Station was a simple sunshade structure with benches. It’s still on its original site, but little used.   As the Live Steamers site expanded, a “New Sherwood Station” was built on the other side of the extensive track layout.

The first Sherwood Station still stands at Live Steamers, a few hundred feet from the new station. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Several years ago, another “New Sherwood Station” was built along with a new public entrance to the site.  It allowed easier access for the public on Sundays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the club offers train rides.  The rides are free, but donations are welcome.   This site is where the newest Sherwood Station now stands.

The station building, which will house a gift shop, ticket window, and restroom facilities, is the largest and most elaborate passenger station to be constructed on the club’s site in Griffith Park, adjacent to Travel Town.   LALS began in 1956 as a place for steam train enthusiasts to run their scale model trains. It has grown over the years and has the Walt Disney train barn on its grounds.  Mr. Disney was a live steam train enthusiast, with an extensive train layout at his home, where the barn was originally located.

The first steam locomotive Gordon Sherwood built, still runs today. It was on display at the station dedication ceremony. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Dedication of the Sherwood Centennial Station coincided with the Live Steamer’s Spring Meet held over the Memorial Day weekend, which was expected to attract about 1,000 live steam enthusiasts, many of whom bring their own locomotives to run on the tracks at the site.  Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, and Park & Recreation officials were on hand for the dedication. The project has taken five years from start to finish, at a cost of about $250,000 that the club has raised.

Among the people gathered for the dedication ceremony was Craig Sherwood, Gordon Sherwood’s son.    “My dad spent over half his life involved with Live Steamers.  It was truly one of the loves of his life,” said Sherwood. “This beautiful new station is a fitting tribute to my father and his dedication to Los Angeles Live Steamers.”

The ceremony went off with a bang, when air cannons firing confetti and streamers into the air as LaBonge and LALSRM President Lou Kovacs cut the ribbon.   Directly next to the station is a large  “garden railroad” featuring G scale trains, that are much smaller than the regular trains that carry passengers around the site.  Club members were busy working on the finishing touches for the layout, when a gust of wind hit.   Most of the confetti and streamers ended up just over the fence in the garden.   As the ceremonies ended, club members were busy picking up the pieces.

Confetti and streamers filled the air as the Sherwood Centennial Station was dedicated. (Photo by Stan Lynch)
The small sign in the foreground marks to approach trains take into the new Sherwood Centennial Station, where hundreds of children and adults can board the trains each Sunday for a ride. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)