Originally built in 1950 behind Walt Disney’s home on Carolwood Drive, the appropriately named Carolwood Barn was the icon’s personal relaxation station where he could kick back and imagineer.
Though designed to look like a farmhouse from the outside, the Carolwood barn was actually a station house for the miniature railroad Disney had installed on his property. His rail line featured over 2,000 feet of track and features such as a trestle bridge and a tunnel that ran underneath his wife’s garden. Dubbed the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, Disney’s hobby could be monitored and controlled from inside the barn which doubled as a workshop. Disney and his compatriots would spend hours inside the shop discussing new projects and generally dreaming. It was this period that has led many to credit the Carolwood barn as the birthplace of Disney’s “Imagineering” principles.
Disney eventually left the home in the Holmby Hills, leaving the fate of his barn in jeopardy. However Disney’s daughter eventually came to the rescue. She gave both the barn and Walt’s hand-laid tracks to a group of locomotive enthusiasts known as the Los Angeles Live Steamers who maintained a rail museum in LA’s Griffith Park. The barn and all of the tracks were moved in their entirety to the park where they are still in tiny service today.
Know known as the “Disney Loop,” the tracks are still maintained and the Carolwood Barn is kept in the same state it was in when in use by Disney. Acting as a small museum, visitors can now come and imagine some dreams of their own.
Visit California with Atlas Obscura Trips
Hip-Hop, Hippies, and Robots: Invention and Reinvention in San Francisco
We'll set out together, September 19-21, to explore unusual galleries, test our cocktail-making skills, and visit the city's best unofficial museum.