Tag Archives: Southern Pacific Rail Yard

More News From “The Dig”

Well Mike Sampson and his team have returned once again to LASHP, this time opening up the ground 200 feet south of their original dig. Mike excitedly explained to me that the bricks pictured below are the foundation for the round house, circa 1870’s (the various sheds where locomotives could be worked on).

Look by his right foot for the exposed brick foundation

Along side the foundation, various vitrified fire bricks were discovered. From what Mr. Sampson told me, he thinks this bricks once lined the coal burning oven that drove steam trains which would have been serviced in this exact location.

Vitrified Fire Brick

While searching for the foundation, the layers of dirt were subsequently exposed and I learned today that the line of gray that you see in the photograph below is made up of track bedding (the gravel that was laid down prior to the actually train track) from the 20th century. Anything below that dirt line is from the 19th century or earlier.

And finally here is a photograph of some broken glass I noticed in the dig site. I am not sure of its historical significance but I wanted to share the picture.

So remember, we aren’t called Los Angeles State Historic Park for nothing. ;)

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Filed under Happenings in the Park

We Love Urban Campfires!

No, not the gritty kind one finds under bridges and behind dumpsters, but the California State Parks variety with city skyline, marshmallows, and power point. LASHP began the Sunset Campfire program in November of 2008 as the culmination of previous year’s “Virtual Campfire” program. The Virtual Campfire program brought State Parks and its award winning Interpretive Team to the most urban of settings, elementary schools in and around Los Angeles. Now, the kids are coming to us as the Campfire really heats up against the backdrop of downtown Los Angeles.

Old-fashioned fun

Old-fashioned fun

This past Saturday, Park Interpretive Specialist, Thomas Carroll, really wowed the crowd with some games, songs, and a presentation on the railroad history of early Los Angeles and LASHP in its original incarnation as the Southern Pacific River Station. As, if that weren’t enough, Thomas followed it all up with a sunset marshmallow roast! Attendance at our campfires has been slowly growing and the next Campfire on September 19th promises to be the biggest and best of all.

Everybody say power point!

Everybody say power point!

Now for a little railroad history

Now for a little railroad history

Big finish - marshmallows for everyone!

Big finish - marshmallows for everyone!

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Filed under Events in the Park, Los Angeles Sector, Park Info, photos

Archaeology in the Park

Last week, state parks archaeologists began digging in the center of the park in hopes of uncovering more of the rich history of Los Angeles State Historic Park. Bucky Buxton, Mike Sampson and their team uncovered parts of the foundation of the “car shop” dating back to the late 19th century when Southern Pacific Railroad owned this land. The main function of the car shop was to build train cars from the ground up to add to Southern Pacific’s fleet.

Arch Team at Work

Arch Team at Work

Talking with archaeologist Bucky Buxton, he mentioned that “most archeological discoveries are made in lab,” making the point that they may not know exactly what they have found until they are able to carbon date artifacts and examine them under a microscope. Bucky also pointed out that the lower strata of soil appears silty and is most likely part of the historic flood plain of the Los Angeles River. The layers of history at LASHP are certainly deep and multi-faceted, be they artifacts from the park’s industrial railyway history or ecological history and connection to the Los Angeles River.

Bucky sifting for artifacts

Bucky sifting for artifacts

If you are ever curious about the archaeology happening here in the park and you see the team out working, don’t be scared to approach them and learn about what they are finding.

"Dig" the view

DIG the view

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Filed under Events in the Park

“Tornado Hits S.P. Yards”

“Freak Storm Does Damage Amid Shower of Rain and Hail”
Los Angeles Times January 13, 1937

Looking south  towards City Hall

Looking south from the future site of LASHP towards City Hall


Sitting on the site of the former Southern Pacific Rail yard – in a modular building, during inclement weather, and in front of a row of corn – we enjoyed revisiting this tidbit from the LA times thanks to Mike Davis “at precisely 3:10 p.m., residents along North Broadway were startled by a mysterious rumble which quickly increased to a roar. Looking skyward, terrified spectators saw the air filled with flying timber which had been picked up by a twister from the Southern Pacific freight yards. Some of the pieces were twenty-five feet long and as much as eight inches thick.”

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Filed under History