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History Summaries
California Rail Lines

Old Palms, CA Train Depot

ZIP code 90034 (original location)
When it was Los Angeles, Zone 34.
Vaughn Aubuchon

Photos of "The Palms" Station
























140 - 450

This train depot has appeared in more early motion Pictures than any other, except perhaps,
for Grand Central Station in New York City.
Because it was located 1 mile south of Fox Studios on Pico Blvd. and
1 mile north of MGM on Washington Blvd.
It was VERY convenient to both major studios.

Many "Our Gang" and "Little Rascals" shorts were shot here. It was my boy scout headquarters in 1956. Troop #49.


1875 -
Built by the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad as a steam railroad

1877 - Sold to Southern Pacific, who leased it to Pacific Electric
1891 - Became of prime importance for both passengers and freight

1908 - Leased to Los Angeles Pacific Railroad (LAPR), who electrified the line
1911 - Became Pacific Electric "Santa Monica Air Line" (Santa Monica to Downtown L.A.)
The Santa Monica Air Line site from (Electric Railway Historical Ass.)
       The Santa Monica Air Line site from Abandoned
1915 - The Palms Suburb was annexed by Los Angeles

1953 - Last Passenger Train on Sept. 30, 1953, trolley wire removed, diesel freight took over
1955 - My Boy Scout Headquarters, P.H. Peters, Scoutmaster
1963 - Declared Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark #22 - Santa Monica Freeway built
1976 - Depot Building moved to Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights

2012 - Motor Avenue Train Bridge removed

1910 Palms, CA Railway Map

The Palms Depot was the MAIN depot between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles, as this 1910 rail line map clearly indicates, during the Los Angeles Pacific Railroad heyday.


400 - 530


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1920 - Palms Train Depot
(guess, date unknown)
Old Palms, CA Train Depot 90034
from ...?
The siding tracks are visible.
There is a sign on the east side of
the building, for westbound passengers.

      Where Was The S.P. Palms Train Depot?

     Santa Monica Air Line
     Mileage Table

Los Angeles




2.6 miles

Register station


3.0 miles


San Padro Street






Grand Avenue






11th Avenue





AKA La Cienega

Culver Junction


Register station


12.2 miles

AKA "Motor Ave."



Register station

West Los Angeles



Soldiers' Home


Branch Line







Santa Monica

16.9 miles





Here are some photos of the old Palms Train Depot

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1928 - "Old Gray Hoss" (Our Gang)
1928 - Our Gang, "Old Gray Hoss"


From left to right:
Unnamed Boy, Jean Darling (still living, 91),
Mary Ann Jackson, Pete the Dog, Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins,
Joe Cobb, Harry Spear and Allen "Farina" Hoskins

Our Gang Summary
This rare shot shows the back of the Palms Depot (southside).
The train tracks were on the north side.
Passengers walked up the hill from National Blvd. and Vinton Ave,
right past the ladder hanging on the west side of the building.
The ladder can also be seen in the 1937 and 1940 photos below.

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1929 - "Berth Marks" (Laurel and Hardy)
(colorized version available for free on youtube)
Old Palms Train Depot - 1929
Hundreds of thousands passed through here.
Just like Kilroy, I was here too, 63 years ago (2017).

Stan and Ollie - Facing "Pottsville" Depot
Old Palms Train Depot - Oliver and Hardy
Looking due south, in front of the station.

Stan and Ollie -
Train Depot is Just to Their Left and Behind Them

Stan and Ollie Running Toward Dickie Moore's Old Home
Motor Ave. is about 200 yards directly
in front of them.

One mile to the right (north) is Fox Studios (in Los Angeles).
One mile to the left (south) is MGM Studios (Sony), in Culver City.
So, when they talk about Fox and MGM in
"Hollywood", I don't think so.
Only "Poverty Row" studios were in Hollywood, plus Paramount.


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1928 - A Lady of Chance
The Palms train station appeared in the silent 1928 movie "A Lady of Chance",
about 40 minutes in, with Norma Shearer and Lowell Sherman.
The station was named "Winthrop".

(looking for a photo - seen on TCM)

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Several Our Gang and Little Rascals films
contain footage from here.

(looking for photos)

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1932 - You're Telling Me - The Boy Friends
The Palms train station appeared in the Hal Roach 1932 movie "The Boy Friends",
with Mickey Daniels and Grady Sutton.
The station was named "Elmira". Hal Roach Film

(looking for photos)

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1937 - Nothing Sacred
The Palms train station appeared in the
1937 movie "Nothing Sacred", at the
8:45 minute mark, with Frederic March and
Carole Lombard, her only Technicolor movie.

1937-Palms, CA Train Depot
Depicted is the fictional town of Warsaw, Vermont.
Actually, downtown Los Angeles lies 12.2 miles down the track, in the direction (east) shown in the photo.
"Hay - Grain - Coal - Wood" were never sold here.
Note the ever-present ladder on the side of the building.
The train shown is headed toward Santa Monica, CA, 4.7 miles away.
Many thanks to David Coscia for the link.


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1938 (click HERE for big size)

1938-Palms, CA Train Depot
Mid-car entrance on trolley car.
The destination sign on the train says "Special".
The small white sign on the front of the car says
"Railroad Boosters". Is that car #738?
Hard to tell, from this photo.


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1939 - Bad Little Angel

Palms Train Depot Movie Sign

In the first 15 minutes, the Palms train station appeared
in the 1939 movie "Bad Little Angel", with
Virginia Weidler and Ian Hunter.

The station was named "Mansfield" (one source), or "Mansbur---".

(trying to find photo - seen on TCM.)

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1939 - Old Locomotive for Movie

1939-Palms, CA Train Depot
from "Los Angeles's The Palms Neighborhood" (Amazon)

Actually, only passenger service was discontinued in 1953.
My pennies continued to be flattened by freight trains
for several more years after that. Typically, they would
drop off loads of lumber at the Palms Lumber Company,
at Motor Ave and National Blvd. I spent hours sneaking
around in there. No cops or dogs, just eagle-eyed employees.
They let me skate.
I was not destructive, just curious and exploring.


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1940- Palms, CA Train Depot
The camera is facing southeast.
It looked just as it did in 1956, as my
Troop 49 Boy Scout headquarters.


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1948 - At Palms Depot

1948 - Palms, CA Train Depot
from "Los Angeles's The Palms Neighborhood" (Amazon)

The Pacific Electric Red Car Line, at the "Grasshopper Station",
looking east, toward downtown Los Angeles, 12 miles away.
The next station down the line is Culver Junction,
which provided power (Ivy Station) for this section of track.
This is reputedly car #995. A larger version of this photo would be nice.
Actually, there are 2 "bypass tracks" shown in the photo.
The middle tracks are for passing, and the right hand tracks
are for loading and temporary storage.

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1953a - The Last Passenger
Train, in Sept. 1953?

Pacific Electric Car #5117, Palms, CA 90034
From - Also,
Looking east, toward downtown Los
Angeles, 12 miles away.
Car #5117 with mid-car side entrance.
The main track is on the left, with 2 siding tracks on the right.

Just across the tracks was the Vista Del Mar Orphanage,
now called Vista Del Mar Child Services.
The three big transformers can NOT be seen. Are they there, just to the right?


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1953b - The Motor Ave. Overpass
Pacific Electric Car #1299, Motor Ave. crossing
The Motor Ave. overpass of the Santa Monica Air Line.
Car # 1299 - Front of car entrance.
The Palms Train Depot was
located about 700 feet to the right,
towards downtown L.A.
To the left is toward Sawtell (old
soldiers home), and Santa Monica.
Eucalyptus trees everywhere,
imported from Australia.

One mile up Motor Ave. and you hit Fox Studios on W. Pico Blvd.
Turn around the other way, and you hit MGM Studios on Washington Blvd.
It is impossible to say how many
movie stars have passed this way, over the years.
Many hundreds, I am sure.
The Cheviot Hills residences were quite "upscale".
I learned to swim at the "plunge" near the Cheviot Hills Tennis
Courts, 2,000 feet before West Pico Blvd. Google shows that it is still there,
with no water in it.
Mapquest shows it full of water. BIG, deep pool. Combination Olympic
8-lane racing and diving pool.


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1953c - The Motor Ave. Overpass

2. Pacific Electric Car #1299, Motor Ave. crossing
The Motor Ave. overpass of the Santa Monica Air Line.
Car #1299 with front entrance.
Note "Santa Monica" on the destination sign.

The Palms Train Depot can be seen on the far right, just to the left and
beneath the 3 large transformers.
Looking southeast toward downtown Los Angeles.
Notice the Baldwin Hills in the background (old oil wells,
Baldwin Theater). This photo was taken on the same day as the one above -
notice the car position, and the window positions. The car was
apparently stopped for a photo opportunity.

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1958 - "Carleton" Depot in
The Return of Dracula" Movie
Palms, CA Train Depot - 1958
The camera is looking southwest.
Francis Lederer played Count Dracula.
The smog can be cut with a knife. It was
this way during the entire 1950's.
The three big transformers are present.

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1965 - Palms Train Depot

(guess, date unknown)

Palms, CA Train Depot - 1965
Date Unknown (guess)
The Cultural Heritage sign is in place on the right -
"The Palms Railroad Station - Cultural Heritage Board Monument No. 22"
This occurred in 1963.

The siding tracks are not visible.
There is a sign above the entrance.
Notice the similarity to the photo below.

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1966 - Palms Train Depot (guess, date unknown)

Old Palms, CA Train Station - 1966
Date Unknown (guess)
The Cultural Heritage sign is in place on the right -
"The Palms Railroad Station -
Cultural Heritage Board Monument No. 22"

This occurred in 1963.
The siding tracks are not visible.
There is no sign above the entrance

Notice the similarity to the photo above.
Is that a late model car on the right? 1960's model?
Notice the painter on the ladder painting the interior.


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1970 - Palms Depot Old Location
Old Palms, CA Train Depot Superimposed on 1970 photo
1910 Sanborn Map Superimposed Upon 1970 Aerial Map

I believe that the copyright has long expired, twice.
If asked, I will remove it, since it is a lousy photograph, anyway.
But itdoes show the old depot location fairly accurately, by superimposing
an old Sanborn map on a more recent satellite shot.


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1976 - Moving Day
Palms, CA Train Depot - 1976
from "Los Angeles's The Palms Neighborhood" (Amazon)

The Palms depot was moved to Heritage Square
in Montecito Heights in Feb. 1976.
The three big transformers are gone.

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1990 - (guess)
Old Palms, CA Depot location in relation to the Santa Monica Freeway
The intersection of Motor Ave. and National Blvd. can be seen in the
upper left quadrant. This map is NOT the conventional "North at the top".
West is at the top.
Since the depot had been moved in 1976,
it would not be on this map.
Close examination reveals that someone
has superimposed the depot on this map.

I was all over this area during the early 1950's.
There was no Santa Monica Freeway,
only the "Santa Monica Air Line" RR tracks.
Now, only small sections of track remain.
One can be seen at the top of the photo,
just under Motor Ave.)
The small block at the top, middle, used to be
the Palms Lumber Co., at Motor and National.
The next street over from Motor Ave.
Mentone Ave, where I lived from 1949
to 1954 (about 200 yds. to the left).
I attended Palms Elementary School on
Motor Ave., for K through 3rd grade.

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2011 -
Old Palms, CA Train Depot Superimposed on 2011 photo
I do not own the copyright of this photo.
"Noncommercial use only", so maybe its OK.

This shows the old depot entrance driveway at the end of Vinton Ave.,
where Price Self Storage currently resides, at 10151 National Blvd.
The Price building footprint is almost exactly the
same as the old building, which housed the

1. Great Western Biscuit Co. (1930s), which became
2. Douglas Aircraft Design Facility (1940s), and then the
3. Tootsie Roll factory (1950s), and then
4. Sloan's Furniture Co. (demolished in 2004 - old box car removed).
5. Price Self Storage building was constructed in 200x?


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2012 - Motor Avenue Bridge

On July 9, 2012, the Motor Avenue Overpass was Demolished (video)

Motor Avenue Bridge on its Way Down for Expo Line Extension

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2014 - Current Location
in Heritage Square

Old Palms, CA Train Depot relocated to Heritage Square
41 years at the Heritage Square Museum location on Homer St. (1976-2017).
(Front of building now faces southeast.
There are no tracks. Elev=568 feet)
Montecito Heights, ZIP 90031
Will it still be here, 100 years from now?

89 years at its original location on
National Blvd. at Vinton Ave. (1887-1976)
(Front of building faced north, parallel to tracks.
Elev=144 feet)
Palms, CA, Zone 34 (ZIP 90034)

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My Credentials


1955-Los Angeles Boy Scout Troop 49
Here is proof of my experience with the old Palms Train Depot, in 1955 and 1956,
when I was 11 and 12, respectively. I lived on
Veteran Ave. at that time.

You should NOT be seeing this, from a search engine, since it is a collection of images borrowed from the web, for personal usage. Some images may be copyrighted.

Most of these photos were found in 2011, without recording source data. I will attempt to link to the sources as I search for them, and find them. Except in cases that have profound technical issues (as in, don't work). There are several. Others are hidden deeply in special library websites, which are poorly indexed by the search engines. You must dig them out "by hand", so to speak.

Do YOU have a good old photo of the place? Would you like to see it here? Email it to me, and I will put your name next to it.


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Have A Great Day!
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This Vaughns Old Palms Train Depot
page was last updated on 2019-09-03.