The Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation serves as the agents of preservation for numerous important photographic, ephemera collections and books centered on Southern Californian rail and traction history. These collections are identified by their original owners / curators, and constitute one of the major initiatives of the Foundation: preservation, documentation and publication of these collections to our fellow Southern Californians and the world.
While visitors are welcome to LARHF's offices, LARHF recognizes electronic dissemination of information as far more efficient in reaching the widest possible audience. To that end, we are digitizing our collections and making them available here, through this website, for all to see and appreciate. Please visit us often, as we are continually adding new image sets to all our online collections.
Bison Archives – Marc Wanamaker Collection | Click here to view collection categories
Marc Wanamaker is a world-class expert and consultant in film history who has worked in many facets of film production, exhibition and research for several decades. Bison's extensive and unique photo archive, assembled over an almost 40-year period, is used for story and location research, publishing, international media outlets and documentary film production and is an information source for several Bison Productions film projects
Two of Marc's collection categories are of direct interest to LARHF. Hollywood Trains, Streetcars and the Movies consists of production photographs with the actors interacting with trains and streetcars mostly in the Los Angeles area. The second category is a collection of photographs that the Location Departments in the studios documented for potential locations of railroad backgrounds or for immediate assistance for a film's production.
Bill and Betty Everett Ephemera and Model Collection | Click here to view collection categories
Bill and Betty Everett were lifelong fans of trolleys and interurbans, with a special emphasis on the Pacific Electric Railway. A retired California Highway Patrol officer, Bill was a famed modeler whose efforts have produced hundreds of models, including every piece of equipment ever operated by the PE. Bill and Betty also have assembled an authoritative collection of trolley / interurban artifacts from systems around the country, and probably the greatest book library ever assembled on the subject matter of streetcars, trolleys and interurbans.
Donald Duke Collection | Click here to view collection categories
The Donald Duke Collection is one of the most important rail photography collections ever assembled. Comprised of his own images as well as those of fellow rail photographers, it has been scanned and is available for viewing by appointment on LARHF's Apple Photos photographic software in its LA offices. Today, the originals as well as Mr. Duke's substantial paper, map and collateral archives are housed at the Huntington Library.
Ralph Melching Collection | Click here to view collection categories
Ralph Melching (1917-2005) was a founder of the Pacific Rail Society (née Railroad Boosters) and an avid rail photographer throughout his adult life. Ralph photographed a wide variety of rail-based subjects, including the construction of Los Angeles Union Station in 1938-39, as well as the Pacific Electric Railway and main line railroads.
Fletcher Swan Collection | Click here to view collection
Fletcher Swan is the former mayor of the city of South Pasadena, and a long-time rail enthusiast. Fletcher began his career before World War II as an employee of the AT&SF Railway, and served (among many capacities) as an official photographer. His collection documents the Santa Fe and its operations in Los Angeles during a pivotal period in Southland history.
Charles Lawrence - Mount Lowe Tourist Photograph Collection | Click here to view collection
Charles Lawrence documented thousands of visitors to Mount Lowe, the tourist railway north of Pasadena and part of the Pacific Electric from the turn of the century until the late 1930s. This collection consists, of tourist photographs shot by Lawrence and his team of visitors posed on the famed incline railway. What makes this collection unique is that all photographs on hand were "return-to-sender," meaning the tourists never received the photographic memory of their Mount Lowe experience.
Roger L. Titus Collection | Click here to view collection
Roger L. Titus is a noted rail historian and postcard collector and is the co-author of "Destinations," a Foundation-published title documenting the rise of Southern California through vintage postcards and their relationship to the trolley lines that fueled Southland growth. As a teenager, Roger and his father Robert rode the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway systems, photographing the systems as they were on the verge of shutdown. His collection provides a brilliant snapshot into late-1940s through late-1950s Southern California, and how trolley systems defined our way of life.
County of Los Angeles Rail Division Map and Imagery Collection | Collection coming soon
This collection consists of de-accessioned materials (maps, plans and photographs) of rail right-of-ways and easements controlled by the County of Los Angeles. Thanks to County employee Craig Jacquez, this material was saved from destruction and is now available for research by the community at large.
Lester Wiltse Paper Collection
Lester Wiltse worked for Pasadena Star-News, and throughout his lifetime assembled an amazing array of books, ephemera and paper, including a complete collection of Ira Swett trolley/interurban books.