Pacific Electric’s Rio Vista Shelter Then & Now

By Steve Crise

The Rio Vista shelter was once situated along the west side Vineland Ave just a few feet south of Aqua Vista Street in North Hollywood. The wooded shelter probably dates as far back as the original building of the San Fernando Valley line in 1911. The shelter served the Pacific Electric Railway faithfully until the line was abandoned on Monday, December 28, 1952.

At some point after the line was abandoned by the P.E. some hearty railfans made a heroic effort to preserve the shelter and moved it to an area inside Griffith Park that is now known as the Travel Town Museum.


It is within the confines of the Travel Town Museum that the Rio Vista shelter still see daily passenger train operations albeit on much a smaller scale, 16 inch gauge track to be precise.  The locomotive is not electrically driven but instead is propelled by a propane motored replica steam locomotive named “Courage”. For practical reasons the motor is hidden away in the tender and provides the tractive effort through a hydraulic transmission inside the locomotive that moves the train along its large circular route that runs around the museum grounds.

The shelter is not a regular stop on the line nor is it even a flag stop on the Travel Town Railroad, but at least it survives in relatively good condition and can at least boast that might be the one and only surviving Pacific Electric shelter in Los Angeles that still see regular passenger service even if the train no longer make a stop there.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Al Donnelly

    Apparently, that Hollywoodvale development was controlled from someone in the Guaranty Building which was built on Hollywood Boulevard in 1924…rock throwing distance from the old LAP/PERy Hollywood Station (at about Ivar). Looks like just a walk-through access here, but maybe a street terminated out of view? A reference from a decade back says that a “historic” taco stand came to occupy the site of the Hollywoodvale Realty office in 1961. The taco stand was being nominated for a designated monument status. Maybe PE should have sold burritos from the Rio Vista shelter.

  • J.D. Caboor

    Years ago, that passenger shelter was at the far end of the Travel Town property when they operated the steam locomotive and passenger car they obtained from Hawaii. The train left the main portion of Travel Town at slow speed , passing the property where the live steamers now operate. Once the locomotive reached the shelter it stopped and reversed direction, backing up to the station. It was a fun adventure for a young kid. Last time I went to Travel Town I took my grandkids, told them that story and showed them what was left of the steam train inside the big metal barn

  • Al Donnelly

    Notice there was a palm tree near the original site and another is growing by the museum location. A fitting touch. However, they should know that English Ivy is an invasive species and should be removed from those trees before permanent damage occurs….it takes a long time to grow replacements.

  • Gerald Hunter

    I believe two former P.E. passenger shelters are still standing in South Pasadena on South Fair Oaks Avenue near the war memorial building a stones throw from the Metro gold Line ( former Santa Fe ) ROW. They are made of stones with wooden roofs however and may still soldier on ( pun intended ) providing shelter to Metro bus patrons these days.

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