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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Angels Flight Railway in Los Angeles

Colette and I won a trip to Los Angeles through a radio station that we listen to and support. We stayed in a hotel in the financial district about 6 or 8 blocks from the Union Train Station. Just a few blocks away from our hotel was an even more famous (with me, at least) railway station: Angels Flight Railway.
When I was much younger… in the 1960s …our family went to the Angels Flight Railway and rode the funicular. I don’t remember how many times we went up and down Bunker Hill. It was great. I still have a ticket to ride Angels Flight from that time in my box of memorabilia. Originally, I kept it because I thought that we would someday return and ride it again. I didn’t know much about the railroad then. But, to date I have found lots of very interesting background and information.
Angels Flight was the result of the efforts of Colonel James Ward Eddy, a Civil War veteran. He began construction of Angels Flight (a two foot, six inch gauge railroad) on August 2, 1901. The railway ended up being a 33 percent grade for 315 feet. He opened the railway on December 31st of the same year. On Opening Day more than 2,000 people took the two funicular cars, Olivet and Sinai, between Hill and Olive Streets (two blocks) in downtown Los Angeles.
Colonel Eddy was born on May 30, 1832 in Java, New York and he died in Los Angeles on April 13, 1916. He moved to Illinois in 1853 where he studied law and became a lawyer and friend of Abraham Lincoln, so much so, that during the Civil War he enlisted in the Army and joined those whose job it was to protect Washington, D. C. After the war, he helped to build a branch line from Flagstaff, Arizona to Phoenix for the Santa Fe railroad. Then, he moved to Los Angeles in 1895. He was part of the project to bring power lines from the Kern River to L.A.
Six years after moving to Los Angeles, he built Angels Flight with his own money. It just so happens that this railway is very close to the area of town in which the colonel lived. The first rides cost one penny and they took passengers from one station to the next in about a minute.
In May of 1969 Angels Flight was closed down so the city government could redevelop the area and displace over 20,000 people. They put Angels Flight into storage. On February 24, 1996 Angels Flight was opened half a block south of the original site. Since then it has had several accidents and many safety violations. Today, it sits on display for all to see and none to ride.
You can get more information about Angels Flight on Wikipedia ( at or at
These two post cards show Angels Flight in its early years. Both post cards are from before March 1, 1907. The backs of them clearly show that one can only write the address on that side. The one on the left, above, is by the Detroit Publishing Co. There is a great source of information about the Detroit Company at ( and at The right-hand one is published by the M. Rieder Company who published view-cards of the West and of Native Americans. His cards were printed in Germany except those contracted out to Edward H. Mitchell in the United States.
The left one below is also from Detroit Publishing and the right-hand one is from M. Rieder.

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