From the Archives: Automated ‘woodpecker’ sledgehammer breaks up railroad trestles

on Oct26

In 1964, old elevated railroad trestles in downtown Los Angeles needed to be removed. A giant mechanical “woodpecker” helped in the demolition. A non-byline story in the March 9, 1964, Los Angeles Times reported:

A woodpecker started its rat-a-tat-tat downtown at dawn Sunday, and a giant steel railroad trestle thundered to the ground.

The mechanized “bird” is a new invention that can strike a 7.5-ton force for the demolition of superstructures.

This one Sunday really “used its head.” Manned by C.O. Cox of Cleveland Wrecking Co., it helped tear down one of Los Angeles’ oldest landmarks, the Pacific Electric railroad ramp behind the railroad building at Sixth and Main streets.

Its target was a section of the ramp built in 1912 that crossed Maple Avenue from 6th to 7th streets. And by 5 p.m., the woodpecker, aided by other demolition devices, had done the job.

The trestle was removed to make room for a new Greyhound Bus Terminal being built on the site.

These photographs by Art Rogers were part of a four-image layout published on March 9, 1964, in the Los Angeles Times.

This article was originally published on June 23, 2011.

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here

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