Southern Pacific 2452 at Overland in Culver City

Southern Pacific SW 1500 no. 452 is captured in this shot headed eastbound along Culver Boulevard. The small freight train is about to cross Overland Avenue in Culver City, circa 1970.

This one-time Pacific Electric line once ran as far south as Redondo Beach. The PE tracks were built along the sandy shoreline between Playa Del Rey and Redondo Beach and were only a few feet from the Pacific Ocean. The Redondo Beach Line lost its passenger status on May 12, 1940 due to its inability to compete with road improvements and the growing use of automobiles. The line was cut back to Alla Junction, a location known today as the busy intersection where Culver Boulevard crosses the 90/Marina Freeway.

For many years after passenger service ceased, the remaining portion of the route provided both the Pacific Electric and then the Southern Pacific with a modest freight business until the late 1970s when the line was cut back again to the Air Line at Culver Junction.

The old Culver Junction today is very close to where the Metro Expo Line’s Culver City station is now located.

The white fence running along the north side of the track, seen here on the left, is protecting the MGM backlot where many of the classic films of the Golden Age of Hollywood were filmed. Ben-Hur, The Philadelphia Story, The Three Musketeers, Little Women and Gone with the Wind are just a few of the features that were shot at this location. By the time this SP train was passing the lot, it had long since been abandoned by MGM for all practical purposes and the site would soon be sold and developed into condominiums.

Steve Crise Collection

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Showing 8 comments
  • Michael Patris
    Reply

    My maternal great-grandfather used to work at MGM Studios as a set builder and took the PE in from Long Beach daily. One day as he was getting off the train in March of 1940, just a few months before my mother was born, he stepped off the Long Beach car but crossed either behind or in front of the standing car and was hit because he didn’t look both ways before he crossed the tracks and was struck by another trolley. He didn’t die that day, but did about a week or so later due to his internal injuries. His name was John Koshear (an Anglicized Czech name) and lived in a Craftsman bungalow in Long Beach at 3rd and Roswell, which still stands today.

  • Clifford Prather
    Reply

    This line was the connection with the remaining segment of the Inglewood-Santa Monica line.

  • Gerald Hunter
    Reply

    This train is returning from switching the various customers scattered within the present Marina del rey/Venice area to the West. There was a line that separated off of the Culver right of way at the Marina Fwy, and headed toward Santa Monica in one direction, and Inglewood in the other,passing right in front of Hughes Aircraft. Today the dismantled bridge that used to carry tracks over ballona creek lays close by its original position (Visilble from the Marina Fwy). P.E. tracks still cross lincoln Blvd between the Toyota dealer and the end of the Marina Fwy.
    Nice to revisit a memory from High school days. The last movie I remember filmed on that backlot was a King Kong remake starring Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges.The giant gorlla prop would tower over the walls and really disrupt traffic!

  • Alex K.
    Reply
  • Chris Zahnle
    Reply

    This looks like Jefferson Blvd and Culver . The back lot of MGM was off Jefferson.

    • Dale Meyers
      Reply

      It’s actually MGM lot 2 behind the fence bounded by Culver, Overland and Elenda. The MGM spur went in near Elenda past the train in the background. There was a city Union Station set, a suburban/rural depot set and several stage docks the company used to ship props from, to distant film locations. Lot 3 was off of Jefferson did have track as well but it was not connected to the outside world. Lot 3 is best seen in Harvey Girls. There are excellent photos in the book MGM, Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot. I live very near this intersection.

      https://www.amazon.com/MGM-Hollywoods-Greatest-Steven-Bingen/dp/1595800557

  • Al Donnelly
    Reply

    Known as Redondo Beach-Del Rey Line. After passenger service terminated, Culver City to Alla was kept for freight. This was close to the mentioned Venice and Inglewood splits. I seem to remember a sea of overhead wires and support poles surviving in this area to the early ’60’s…old Los Angeles Airport was still operating (but maybe limited to charters?) at this point from what I recall. Seemed to be up against the 405 ROWay. Does that make sense?

  • Jameson
    Reply

    Throw a rock over that low wall and you’d hit Andy Hardy’s house!

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