February 1970: Southern Pacific freight train passes P.J’s on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood
February 1970: Southern Pacific freight train passes P.J’s on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood

P.J’s was a famous rock club on Santa Monica Blvd. at Crescent Heights in West Hollywood. Traktur restaurant and other companies occupy that northwest corner now.

The Paris Theatre is next door. You can read more about it here.

From the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 12, 1970:

Two Halloweens ago, bartender Al Solliday strapped on two six-shooters and staged a mock holdup of a Southern Pacific freight train.

Sheriff’s deputies, however, didn’t laugh.

This wasn’t an ordinary freight train. This one creaks and groans down the middle of Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood several nights a week–right past all the boutiques, bottomless dancing clubs, fancy restaurants and coffee shops.

When someone holds it up, traffic comes to a halt, rowdy bar patrons gather, street people shout encouragement and all hell breaks loose.

Usually, however, the train attracts little attention as it follows the spur line down Santa Monica Blvd. to Seward St. in Hollywood and then back
through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles to the yards at Jefferson and La Cienega Blvds.

And although sometimes it’s a nuisance, says the bartender–in general agreement with other merchants in the area–the train really doesn’t seem to get in anyone’s way.

“It’s a fun train,” says Solliday, who works at the Palms Cocktail Lounge, 8572 Santa Monica Blvd. “Anyway,’” he adds, “there’s no way we’re going to get rid of it.”

Just two years later business for the line went into a slump and Southern Pacific closed it and began removing the tracks. The Times reported then that removal of the tracks likely saved local motorists on their car repair bills:

At Santa Monica (westbound) and Olive Drive, the tracks, which up to this point are level with the street, curve one way and the street curves another and many motorists follow the tracks and not the street, especially on rainy nights.

At least one car a day follows the tracks and, after getting its axles hung up on the rails, has to be towed away. Once, a sheriff’s patrol car even ran up on the tracks.

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