In 1950, Walt built the Carolwood Pacific Railroad in the backyard of his house in Holmby Hills, California. He named the railroad for the street where he lived: Carolwood Drive. The first run on the Carolwood Pacific Railroad took place on May 7, 1950. The 2,615 feet of track included a 46 foot long trestle and a 90 foot long tunnel under his wife’s flower bed. Amidst the railroad, he had a barn built where he could monitor and remotely control the switches on the track. The barn also served as a workshop and a place for Walt and his friends to relax.
When the Holmby Hills home was sold, the new owners had plans to preserve the house, but discovered that due to structural issues and asbestos, they demolished the existing structures and built a new home. Fortunately, Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller recognized the importance of the Barn and began the process of saving it before escrow closed. Diane contacted Michael and Sharon Broggie, founders of the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society, who began planning what to do with the Barn. A general contractor, Bill Abel, was hired to dismantle the Barn and it was stored until an agreement was secured with the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Live Steamers Museum. It opened in Griffith Park as a loan to the people of Los Angeles on July 19, 1999, and is located inside the 1/8th scale track, the same scale that Walt had at his home.
Walt spent many hours in the Barn not only working on his trains, but thinking about new projects and ideas. One could say that this Barn is the birthplace of Imagineering.
Today, the Barn is in a beautifully landscaped part of the park, with several nice picnic tables and many benches. Bring your family and a picnic basket to enjoy your lunch and some Walt Disney, railroad, and Disneyland history. The Barn is small, but full of many interesting items to learn about, and lots of wonderful stories.
The Barn is open on the 3rd Sunday of each month from 11 am to 3 pm. Parking is free, and admission is free. Donations to the Los Angeles Live Steamers Museum are accepted.
Carolwood Foundation Barn Contacts
Fred Lack – 310-213-0722