If you’ve ever seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) you know that the Pacific Electric Red Cars were probably the world’s greatest interurban railway—until they were destroyed by Judge Doom, ably played by Christopher Lloyd.
The Red Cars were already history when I arrived in Los Angeles at the tail end of 1966. Imagine my surprise when I saw a whole collection of them, along with their predecessors, at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California. It appears the collection was put together by a private individual named Walter Abbenseth, who died in 2006.
Trolleys were not the only things Martine and I saw at the Orange Empire museum: There were steam and diesel locomotives, passenger and freight cars, and a whole slew of cabooses. The museum was staffed by old railroad pros who knew their stuff and were delighted to answer questions.
There was even a nice exhibit devoted to Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls, whose Harvey House station restaurants, particularly in the Southwest, stood for quality.
I had always intended to visit this museum, but was put off by the 85-mile drive along the 60 Freeway to get there. Now both of us want to return. We had a great time.