Our next stop on our day out in San Pedro after the Harbor Fire Museum was a walk across Beacon Street for a ride on the restored Pacific Electric Railway along the San Pedro Waterfront (AKA “Red Car”). While it’s not the first time we’ve ridden the Red Car, it has been a long, long while.
But before our trip on the Red Car, we made a few stops outside of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. While we’ve never been inside of this museum (admission is just $3 for adults, $1 for youth and seniors, children free; however, we don’t think T is quite old enough to appreciate the history just yet), there’s plenty to see outside for free. There’s an old rotating battleship gun, a life-size torpedo, a ginormous boat propeller, and many other ship parts, accessories, and military arsenal to explore. Of course, these items are anchored down (pun intended), making touching and climbing a-OK, and the active ammunition have long since been removed or deactivated. T has loved to explore these displays over the years, and this past weekend was no different.
After some maritime pretend play, we finally arrived at the Red Car stop at 6th Street. There a perfectly crafted replica trolley car greeted us. The Red Car runs back and forth along a restored Pacific Electric railway line on the waterfront of San Pedro. While the car doesn’t take passengers much of anywhere except a handful of stops along Ports O’ Call for a wonderful fountain show at the end near the USS Iowa and World Cruise Center at the Port of Los Angeles, the 1.5-mile Red Car ride is a trip back in time.
The Red Car Railway’s restored and replica cars all include striking details, such as antique ads that once were on display during the PE’s actual runs in the 1920s and wooden carvings that are simply breathtaking. The cars also operate as they would have back during their original runs. The drive machinery is modeled after that of the original cars (brake handles, electric wires overhead, and gear shift), and the driver is required to change ends of the car depending which direction the car is headed. Operators and engineers also flip the seats over once the car reaches the end of the line just like they would have back during the original runs (the seats are slatted wood-worked and brass-fitted benches). It’s all of these things collectively that give riders a taste of the real Red Car experience, even though the Red Cars stopped running through Los Angeles as suburban transit lines almost 100 years ago.
While Red Car rides are not free, they might as well be. Riders can pay $1 and ride all day. Yes, I said $1. I can’t think of anything you can do all day long for a buck, except for this, I mean. And, yes, you just might discover that your train-tranced child will want to ride all day. Even at five-years-old it still takes some enticement to get T to disembark. Oh, and there’s free hats for the kids, too. Hmm, perhaps San Pedro needs to adopt the motto of, “Home of Free Hats for the Kids!” considering it was T’s second free hat last Saturday from his second outing around the town.
So next time you find a buck or two in your pocket, maybe that’s a sign of where you’ll be spending your Saturday together. Who said a buck can’t buy much these days?
The San Pedro Waterfront Red Cars operate from 12 p.m. (noon) to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A $1 all-day fare includes unlimited rides for that day (it’s noted on this site that children 6-and-under are free). Cash only and riders pay fares aboard the trolleys. Click here for a map of the Red Car’s route and other attractions along the line.
PLEASE NOTE: According to a friend who visited here on March 2, it turns out that the PE Red Car Railway in San Pedro will be closed from March 17 through the end of June (2013) due to construction in the area. I do not know anything more at this time, but I have contacted @San_Pedro_CA via twitter to try to get more information; when I do I will post here. Thanks, Toni, for passing this along!