Donald Sims 1928 – 2021

By Steve Crise

All of us at regret to announce that Donald Sims, prolific photographer and writer, passed away on Saturday, December 11, 2021. He was 93.

Don had contributed images to our collection for use in various projects over the years. We are very grateful for Don’s generosity and we are saddened by his passing.

Don had a unique style to his photography that was easily recognizable to many railfans. His sense of composition set him apart from most other photographers of his day and that unique quality in his work lasted his entire carrier.

As an example of what I consider one of his best photographs depicting the day to day operations of the Los Angeles Transit Lines is this photo of F Line car 1444 at Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal that Don made in November of 1953. Study it closely and see all the detail and richness confined to a single frame of film. The boarding passengers all seem to have just stepped of a recently arriving transcontinental passenger train just moments ago with their luggage firmly grasped in hand. The motorman is watching the fare box as a boarding passenger deposits his fare. The advertisement on the side of car 1444 boasts the coming of the newest model of CBS Columbia TV sets for 1954. Don really did a great job capturing a wonderful slice of daily life in Los Angeles in the 1950’s.

For a more on the work and life of Donald Sims, please visit this wonderful recollection by David Lustig at Trains Magazine.

Rest in peace, Don. — Steve Crise

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  • Reva Sims


  • David Moser

    Could someone tell me geographicaly where at LAUS this location was at? Thank you.

  • Al Donnelly

    David…over on the side closest to the Postal Annex building, towards the east or northeast depending upon how you view downtown alignments. [Sorry about Don’s passing.] The view is interesting because it’s like putting a full scale model onto an 0-27 curved track…those wheels had to swing wide which moved the car body almost sideways for the doors to be positioned perfectly to embark or dis-embark, a nice feat of engineering on this turn.

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Photo by Don Sims from the PRS Collection. Los Angeles Transit Lines 1532 at Broadway and Olympic Blcd, exact date unknown at this time. Photographer: Don Sims Location: South Broadway and Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, California. Railroad: Los Angeles Transit Lines. Car # LATL 1532 Line: 5 Line Date: c. 1950 Image notes: Car is turning from South Broadway to Broadway Place. Broadway Place no longer exists, therefore we did not use this image for the Los Angeles Railway Past & Present project. Scanned from an 11 x 14 Print from the Pacific Railroad Society collection in San Dimas Ca.