Monograph #7: Walter Abbenseth: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric, Volume 1

A former employee of the Pacific Electric Railway, the late Walter Abbenseth was also well known to the Southern California rail fan community both for his efforts to save and preserve P. E. equipment and his generosity in sharing his extensive collection of photographs, slides, movies and videos. (Which now reside at the Orange Empire Railway Museum) This monograph covers his experiences and observations of the P. E. while growing up in Echo Park and South Central districts of Los Angeles, his employment by the P. E., and rail fan activities. The span of this monograph is roughly from the late Great Depression years to 1965. 60 pages, 52 photographs, Echo Park Avenue Line map, and index.

Oral History Series #5

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  • Everett

    It is unfortunate that I will never get the chance to meet Walter Abbenseth. But, I will be forever grateful to him for saving and preserving some P. E. equipment from the scrapper’s torch – including the first car he saved, car 1001. Thanks to Mr. Abbenseth, the P. E. equipment he saved and preserved currently reside at the Orange Empire Railway Museum. Someday, I may get to visit the OERM and see the equipment, including my favorite, car 1001.

  • Cathryn

    Is there an electronic copy of this monograph available?

    • Pacific Electric

      Not at this time, Cathryn.

  • Gary Starre

    For the last ten years of Walter’s life, from 1996 to 2006, I had the pleasure of driving him to and from OERM each weekend. It was such a treasure to hear all of his stories firsthand. In January 2006, with his illness severely debilitating him, I remember him sitting in PE 314, with the air compressor idling, eyes closed, and a peaceful expression on his face as his memories took him back to days of some long ago high speed run.

  • Doug Stewart

    I had the pleasure of meeting Walter one day at the L A County Fairground. I was checking out 1299 and notice someone inside and asked if I could come in. Inside was Walter going through boxes and boxes of old photos stuff he had collected over the years. At the time I had no idea who I was visiting with but now that he’s gone I wish I had been able to spend more time listening to him talk about his time with the PE.

  • George Hays

    I remember one year Walt ran for the directorship of the Orange Empire Trolley Museum but not a lot of people voted for him. He was regarded as more a lovable eccentric then a natural born leader. But what I remember the most was Walt tried very hard to make his hobby of trolleys and interurbans work and he respected anyone else trying to do the same. He and George Roberts could often be seen years ago trying to maintain his P.E. 1001 at the museum under very primitive conditions. There wasn’t much help in the beginning and it must have been easy to get discouraged. It was a tribute to Walt he never became bitter over this. I hope we appreciate what a pioneer Walt was in equipment preservation and how he actually borrowed money to buy some of the cars we enjoy now.


    I remember this fine gentleman from the early 70’s when he would visit a Indian/Sri Lankan Restuarant on Vermont and. Santamonica blvd, near the LACC. I was quite young and have visited him in his home as well….hE hd lots of mermorablia of trains etc……he spent a lot of time with me and sadly we lost contact at the end of the decade. HIs name just came to me and i though i wud do a google search and lo and behold i found him. May his soul RIP, he was a kind and gentle man!

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Monograph #8: Fred Hust: Remembrances of the Pacific ElectricMonograph #6: Bill Arnold: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric