In 1875, the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad connected the City of Los Angeles with the Santa Monica Bay.  Electrified and rebranded the “Santa Monica Airline” by 1911, it continued carrying passengers and freight.

When developers advertised their 1923 Country Club Highlands housing tract (it was later considered part of the Cheviot Hills neighborhood), they touted the adjacent “airline to the beaches.”  The Cheviot Hills neighborhood successfully fought to keep passenger service in the 1930s, but Southern Pacific Railway discontinued service in 1953.  Diesel freight trains ran until the late-1980s.  

In 1990, the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, a predecessor to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), bought the railroad right of way.  In 2016 – after a 63-year hiatus – Metro restored Cheviot Hills’ train connection by completing the Expo Line (later “E Line”) and opening a station nearby.  

This early Edison film shows a steam engine passing through a Los Angeles & Independence Railway tunnel in the area that is now the McClure Tunnel in Santa Monica.  The Los Angeles & Independence Railway ran on right of way that later carried the Santa Monica Air Line then the “E” Line light rail line.
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