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Museum Bid Derailed : Travel Town Unable to Reach Agreement to Acquire Historic Track

August 15, 1991|PHIL SNEIDERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Workers in Glassell Park pulled up part of a historic railroad spur this week, casting a pall over a Griffith Park train museum's bid to acquire and preserve some of the track.

An A & K Railroad Materials crew removed the rails and wooden ties along the Union Pacific Railroad Co.'s former Glendale branch line. The spur is valued by train buffs because it is the last stretch of track that was once used by the Glendale & Montrose Railway, Glendale's failed attempt to connect with Los Angeles' legendary electric trolley system in the early 1900s.

Administrators at Travel Town, the Los Angeles transportation museum, want to relocate some of the track to Griffith Park for its displays of full-size rail cars and for a proposed demonstration line through the park.

But by Wednesday, as dismantling of the track continued, Travel Town was unable to strike a deal with A & K regarding the historic track. Travel Town officials expressed disappointment over the important opportunity that may be lost.

"Although we need rail, this was something more than that," said Linda Barth, the museum's planning and development director. "Because this was part of the old Glendale line, it would have had historic value as well as practical use at Travel Town."

The Glendale trolley system ceased operations in 1930 because of financial setbacks and competition from buses. Union Pacific continued to use the track to serve industrial customers until about five years ago. But in 1990, the railroad asked federal officials for permission to abandon the track, and the property was sold earlier this year.

To remove the rails and ties, Union Pacific last month hired A & K, a Salt Lake City-based firm that says it is the nation's largest supplier of new and used track supplies.

The company has begun disassembling the 1.25-mile spur line just east of San Fernando Road, roughly between Glendale Avenue and the Glendale Freeway. Union Pacific spokesman Mark W. Davis said the contract calls for land to be cleared by Sept. 5, but A & K Vice President David Muirbrook said the work will probably be finished even sooner.

Muirbrook said the Glendale track materials are being taken to a classification yard near Ontario, where employees decide which items are suitable for reuse and which are to be scrapped.

A & K was hired three years ago to remove the rail materials from Taylor Yard, Southern Pacific Transportation Co.'s former switching center in Glassell Park. Barth said she was unable to persuade A & K to donate any of those materials to the museum.

Muirbrook said that he was not familiar with Travel Town but that a representative from his firm would get in touch with the museum.

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