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Power Co.
Seattle & Rainier Valley Ry. Co.
Seattle Municipal St. Ry.
Spokane & Eastern Ry. & Power Co.

Spokane, Coeur d'Alene & Palouse
Ry. <GN)
Tacoma Ry. & Power Co.
Twin City Ry.
Vancouver Traction Co.
Walla Walla Valley Ry. Co. (NP)
Washington Water Power Co.
Willapa Electric Co.
TYakima Valley Transportation Co.



Oregon Electric Ry. Co. (SP&S)
Portland Ry. Light & Power Co.
Southern Oregon Traction Co.
Southern Pacific Co.

Portland, Eugene & Eastern Ry.
United Rys. Co. (SP&S)
Willamette Valley Southern Ry. Co.


Central California Traction Co. (2)

Fresno Traction Co.
Glendale & Montrose Ry. (UP)
Market St. Ry.

Northwestern Pacific RR (1) (SP)
Pacific Coast Ry. Co.
Pacific Electric Ry. Co. ( SP )
Peninsular Ry. Co. (SP)
Petaluma & Santa Rosa RR Co.

tSacramento Northern RR ( 2 ) ( WP )
San Diego Electric Ry. Co.

San Diego Southern Ry. Co.

San Francisco, Napa & Calistoga Ry.

San Francisco-Oakland Terminal Rys.


Key System
San Francisco-Sacramento RR Co.

Sacramento Northern RR (WP)
Southern Pacific Co.

lnterurban Electric Ry.
Tidewater Southern Ry. (WP)
Visalia Electric RR Co. (SP)





Cape Breton Tramways
Pictou County Ry.




Hull Electric Co. (CPR)
Montreal & Southern Counties Ry.

Montreal Tramways
Quebec Ry., Light & Power Co.



Brantford & Hamilton Electric Ry.

Brantford Municipal Ry.

Chatham, Wallaceburg & Lake Erie

Grand River Ry. (CPR)

Grand Valley Ry.

Hamilton & Dundas St. Ry.

Hamilton, Grimsby & Beamsville
Electric Ry.

Hamilton Radial Electric Ry.

Lake Erie & Northern Ry. (CPR)

London & Lake Erie Ry. & Trans-
portation Co.

tLondon & Port Stanley Ry.

Mt. McKay & Kakabeka Falls Ry.
Niagara Falls Park & River Ry.
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto

Ry. (CNR)
Nipissing Central Ry.
Sandwich, Windsor & Amherstburg

Electric Ry.
Schomsburg & Aurora Ry.
Sudbury-Copper Cliff Suburban Ry.
Toronto & York Radial Rys.
Toronto Suburban Ry. (CNR)
Windsor, Essex & Lake Shore Rapid

Woodstock, Thames Valley &

Ingersoll Ry.

Winnipeg Electric Co.
Winnipeg, Selkirk & Lake Winnipeg




Calgary Municipal Ry.


tBritish Columbia Electric Ry.


F.C. Electrico de Lerdo a Torreon
F.C. Electrico de Tampico a la Barra
F.C. Mexicano, Tejeria-Jalapa branch

(mule power)
*Servicio de Transportes Electricos,

Mexico City


*F.C. Cubano de Hershey


Caguas Tramway Co.

Principal lnterurban Carbuilders

Indiana Railroad's notable high-
speed, lightweight car fleet of 1931-

JTOR a more detailed discussion of carbuilders the reader is referred to "Rail-
way Car Builders of the United States & Canada,'' written by E. Harper Charlton
and published by Interurbans, from which this summary is drawn with the kind
permission of the author and publisher.

American Car Company, St. Louis,
Mo., 1891-1931.

A leading street and interurban car-
builder, American was acquired by
J. G. Brill in 1902 as a strategically-
located plant for Brill's western or-
ders. Cars were built there under the
American label until the plant's re-
organization as J. G. Brill of Missouri
in 1931, only a scant four months
before the works closed its doors
for good.

American Car & Foundry Company,

Formed by the merger of 1 3 older
firms, ACF is still a leading railroad
carbuilder. Much of ACF's interur-
ban car construction was centered at
its Jeffersonville ( Ind. ) plant, which
included among its output many of
the handsome heavy steel coaches,
diners, parlor cars, and sleepers that
graced Ohio and Indiana traction
during the '20s, and a portion of the

Barney & Smith Car Company, Day-
ton, O., 1849-1923.

A general railway carbuilder,
Barney & Smith built interurbans for
many Midwest and other systems. The
plant made the transition to steel car-
building in 1913, and closed only 10
years later.

J. G. Brill Company, Philadelphia,

Pa., 1868-1956.

Without question Brill was the
leader in street and interurban car
construction throughout the age of
electric traction. Formed by John
George Brill and his son G. Martin
Brill, the firm pioneered many im-
portant advances in electric railway


cars and their equipment. In 1899
the company laid plans to consolidate
its own activities with several other
firms' into the Consolidated Street
Car Company, which would have ab-
sorbed 90 per cent of the electric
carbuilders in the U. S. These plans
were later abandoned, but between
1902 and 1908 Brill acquired the
American Car Company at St. Louis;
G. C. Kuhlman Car Company at
Cleveland; John Stephenson Car
Company at Elizabeth, N. J.; Wason
Manufacturing Company at Spring-
field, Mass.; and Danville Car Com-
pany at Danville, 111., giving the com-
pany strategically located plants in
most parts of the U. S. In 1912 Com-
pagnie J. G. Brill was formed with a
plant at Paris, France, which pro-
duced cars and trucks for electric
lines throughout the Eastern Hemis-
phere. Brill cars were, in fact, to be
found throughout the world.

Every conceivable type of car was
built by Brill. Among a few of the
most notable Brill designs were the
patented Brill semi-convertible car,
which was widely used throughout
the U. S.; the heavy steel high-speed
articulated cars built in 1926 for the
Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis;
and the lightweight, high-speed Bul-
let cars developed in 1930. Brill had
patents covering virtually every com-
ponent of car construction, from
trucks to trolley wheels, and the firm
pioneered "package" selling and as-
sembly line production.

Brill declined along with the
electric railways it supplied, and the
last car came out of the Philadelphia
plant in 1941, after which the firm
turned its attention to buses and
other products.

Canadian Car & Foundry Company,
Limited, Montreal, Que., 1909-
A general railway carbuilder ever
since its organization, Canadian Car
was a leading builder of electric rail-
way cars in Canada, and large vol-
umes of street and interurban cars
were built from 1909 until the last
one rolled out of the plant in 1946.
Now Canadian Car Company, Ltd.,
the plant still produces railroad

Cincinnati Car Company, Cincinnati,
O., 1902-1931.

A subsidiary of the Cincinnati
Street Railway, Cincinnati Car had its
origin in Chester Park shops which
built cars and trucks for the parent
firm for its own use. Other Ohio com-
panies asked to have cars built for
them, and as the demand increased
the separate carbuilding firm was

Cincinnati cars were seen largely
on systems in the Midwest and South-
east. Virtually every type of car, both
wood and steel, was built during the

firm's 30 years in business, but the
most notable among them were the
famous curved-side lightweight cars
built during the 1920's, and the fleet
of lightweight, high-speed cars built
in 1930 for the Cincinnati & Lake
Erie Railroad. The latter represented
virtually the last cars built by the
firm, for only a year later Cincinnati
completed its final order.

Columbia Car & Tool Works, Port-
land, Ore.

Columbia built only a modest num-
ber of cars for electric lines in the
Northwest but is deserving of men-
tion by virtue of having built the first
cars, in 1892, for the Portland-Oregon
City East Side Railway, generally re-
garded as the first interurban.

Danville Car Company, Danville, III.,
circa 1900-1913.

Danville, a short-lived firm, built a
considerable number of street and in-
terurban cars for Midwest and West-
ern systems. The plant was acquired
by J. G. Brill in 1908 but went out of
business only five years later when
the traction industry began the transi-
tion to steel equipment.

Harlan & Hollingsworth, Wilmington,
Del., 1836-1905.

Established in 1836, Harlan & Hol-
lingsworth was one of the oldest rail-
way carbuilders. Purchased by Beth-
lehem Steel in 1905, the car works
continued in operation until 1944.
Among the most interesting interur-
ban cars produced by the plant were
the "Holland" sleeping cars built in
1903, which converted from a parlor
car by day to a sleeper by night, and
the unusual articulated units con-
structed by Bethlehem in 1935 for the
Key System's Bay Bridge service be-
tween San Francisco and the East Bay

Jewett Car Company, Newark, O

Jewett was one of several builders
that produced in large numbers the
handsomely proportioned "classic"
cars that typified the wood car era on
the Midwestern interurbans. Jewett
changed over to steel construction
and turned out a few groups of distin-
guished all-steel cars before it went
into receivership and out of business
in 1918.

Jones' Sons Car Company, Water-
vliet, N. Y., 1839-1922.

An early entrant in the electric car-
building industry, the Jones firm be-
gan building street railway cars in
1864 and as early as 1886 was said to
be building 300 streetcars a year.
Jones cars went to many countries,
but most of them were to be found
on the streetcar and rural trolley lines

of New England and the East. Pro-
duction of cars ended in 1912.

G. C. Kuhlman Car Company, Cleve-
land, O., 1892-1932.

Kuhlman built an extensive variety
of street and interurban cars, includ-
ing wood cars of classic pattern,
heavy steel cars, and a considerable
number of lightweights during the
1920s. J. G. Brill absorbed the Kuhl-
man firm in 1904, as part of its pro-
gram to acquire plants at strategic lo-
cations. Production continued under
the Kuhlman name until 1931, when
the plant was reorganized as J. G.
Brill of Ohio. Only a year later car-
building ceased for good.

Laconia Car Company, Laconia,
N. H., 1881-1928.

Cars by Laconia, one of the lead-
ing builders in New England, were
found everywhere in the Northeast,
and frequently in other parts of the
U. S. as well. The company was also
an important builder of steam road
equipment. Along with a majority of
the traction carbuilders, Laconia went
out of business with the decline of
the electric railway industry in the
late 1920s.

McGuire-Cummings Manufacturing
Company, Chicago and Paris, III.,

Entering the electric railway field
as a car truck builder in 1888,
McGuire-Cummings was known as the
McGuire Manufacturing Co. Later
the company began building spe-
cialized equipment, and finally be-
came a major producer of all types
of electric railway equipment, as well
as a considerable amount of steam
railway rolling stock. A great volume
of wood and steel interurbans bore
the McGuire-Cummings label. Prob-
ably the most distinguished among
them were the three steel parlor-buf-
fet-observation cars built for limited
service on the Waterloo, Cedar
Falls & Northern Railroad in 1915.
The company later became the Cum-
mings Car & Coach Company, and
built its last car in 1930.

Niles Car & Manufacturing Com-
pany, Niles, O , 1901-1917.
Although it built a few steel cars
in its last years, the Niles firm was
noted principally for the handsome
wood cars it turned out during the
peak years of interurban carbuilding.
Niles called its cars "The Electric
Pullmans," and among them were
perhaps the largest wood interurbans
ever constructed. Built for the Wash-
ington, Baltimore & Annapolis in
1907, these 62-foot cars weighed 44


Osgood Bradley Car Company,
Worcester, Mass., 1833-1930.
A producer of railway cars since
1833. the Osgood Bradley plant,
which operated until 1960 as part
of Pullman-Standard, was the oldest
carbuilding plant in the United
States. Its 127 years of production in-
cluded virtually every type of steam
and electric railroad car. Osgood
Bradley was associated with the
Standard Steel Car Company after
1910, and became part of Pullman-
Standard in 1930. P-S rapid-transit
car production was concentrated at
the Osgood Bradley plant until its
closing in I960.

Ottawa Car Manufacturing Com-
pany, Ottawa, Ont., 1891-1947.
One of the leading Canadian car-
builders, Ottawa built large numbers
of street and interurban cars that op-
erated in all parts of the Dominion.
The plant closed in 1947, after build-
ing a final order of streetcars for the
Ottawa Electric Railway.

Pressed Steel Car Company, Pitts-
burgh, Pa., 1896-1954.
A pioneer steel carbuilder from
the time of its organization, Pressed
Steel was exclusively a freight car-
builder until 1906, when it built some
of the first steel passenger cars. The
firm, principally a steam road car-
builder, also manufactured street and
, interurban cars, among them some of
the earliest all-steel designs. Out-
standing among its interurbans were
24 all-steel cars built in 1915 for high-
speed service over Pacific Electrics
premiere San Bernardino line. The
legendary super-salesman "Diamond
Jim" Brady was associated with
Pressed Steel Car until 1902, when
he walked out to join in forming the
rival Standard Steel Car Company.

Preston Car & Coach Company, Pres-
ton, Ont., 1908-1921.

Another of the principal Canadian
builders, Preston built electric rail-
way cars, as well as occasional steam
road equipment. In 1921, when the
Toronto Transportation Commission
restricted bidding on new cars to Ca-
nadian firms, J. G. Brill leased Pres-
ton Car & Coach and set up Canadian
Brill Company, Ltd., which lasted
hardly long enough to complete the
50-car Toronto order it obtained.

Pullman-Standard Car Manufactur-
ing Company, 1867-
One of the leaders in American car-
building, the Pullman organization
began its carbuilding activities in
1867, when George Pullman founded
Pullman's Palace Car Company. Vari-
ous corporate changes have taken
place in the intervening years but the
name "Pullman" has been synony-
mous with sleeping cars and carbuild-
ing ever since. Pullman entered the
electric car field in 1891 and has con-
tinued in the business to the present
time, building everything from 4-
wheel streetcars to heavy M.U. coach-
es for steam road electrifications.
Among distinguished Pullman inter-
urbans have been some of Pacific
Electric's finest steel interurbans, cars
for Southern Pacific's Oregon electri-
fication, high-speed steel equipment
for the Insull interurbans at Chicago,
and a portion of Indiana Railroad's
1931 fleet of high-speed aluminum

St. Louis Car Company, St. Louis,

Mo., 1887-

Exceeded only by Brill in volume,
St. Louis Car was one of the greatest
of the electric carbuilders, and it en-
joys the distinction of being the only
one of the firms once devoted largely
to carbuilding for the electric railway
industry that still remains in busi-
ness. In I960 the company was pur-
chased by General Steel Castings Cor-
poration. St. Louis has built electric
equipment of every description, and
a considerable amount of steam rail-
road rolling stock also, including
carbodies for many of Electro-Mo-
tive's early gas-electric cars and sev-
eral of its first diesel-electrics. Like
Brill, St. Louis designed and built
trucks and virtually every other ma-
jor car component, as well as cars
themselves. The noteworthy interur-
bans produced by St. Louis are almost
too numerous to mention. Among the
most recent were the two extraordi-
nary 85-mile-per-hour streamlined
Electroliner trains built for the Chi-
cago North Shore & Milwaukee in
1941, and the three post-World War
II electric streamliners for the Illinois
Terminal Railroad, which were the
very last interurbans built. Today
St. Louis is turning out rapid trans-
it cars and equipment for steam rail-

Southern Car Company, High Point,
N. C, 1904-1917.

In business only 13 years, South-
ern Car was nonetheless an important
builder, and its street and interurban
cars were found throughout the
South, and at points as far away
as New York and Puerto Rico. When
Southern went out of business a new
firm, the Perley A. Thomas Car
Works, was established, which took
over the plant and continued build-
ing streetcars until 1930.

John Stephenson Car Company, Eliz-
abeth, N. J., 1831-1917.

Stephenson was one of the first
U. S. railroad carbuilders. Originally
located in New York, the firm built
most of the city's first street railroad
rolling stock. In the 15 years from
1876 to 1891 alone, Stephenson built
25,000 horse, cable, and electric cars.
During the boom years of interurban
construction many lines were
equipped with handsome wood cars
turned out by the Stephenson plant,
including some of the earliest cars
capable of really high speeds. In
1903, for example, a Stephenson car
covered 35 miles on the new third-
rail Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Rail-
way in 34 minutes 39 seconds, in-
cluding speed restrictions and stops.

The Stephenson plant was acquired
by J. G. Brill in 1904, but production
continued under the Stephenson
name. The plant never tooled up for
steel carbuilding, and closed in 1917.

Wason Manufacturing Company,
Springfield, Mass., 1845-1931.

Wason was another of the car-
builders acquired by J. G. Brill in its
expansion program shortly after the
turn of" the century. Wason electric
cars were built in large numbers for
lines in New England and other
areas, and it was also a steam road
carbuilder. Trucks and bodies for
General Electric's line of gas-electric
cars were almost always turned out
by the Wason plant. The Wason
name continued in use after the 1906
Brill purchase until 1931 when the
plant, in common with the other re-
maining Brill subsidiaries, lost its
identity and became J. G. Brill of
Massachusetts. Within a year, also in
common with the other Brill subsidi-
ary plants, Wason went out of the
carbuilding business for good, i


Principal Types of Interurban Rolling Stock,
Important Components, and Accessories


CLOSED Car: The ordinary closed
car, comparable in general arrange-
ment to steam railroad coaches, with
doors and enclosed vestibules at each
end, was by far the most common
type of interurban passenger car.

Combine Car: With the provision
of a compartment for mail, express,
and baggage at one end of the car, a
single unit enabled interurban op-
erators to provide varied services.

Center-Entrance Car: With
doors and steps at or near the center
of the body, the center-entrance car
usually had side plates that sloped
down to the bottom of the steps, giv-
ing what was described as a "possum-
belly" or "sow belly" appearance.

OPEN Car: The most common
variety of this summer car had trans-
verse benches across the full width of
the car, with longitudinal steps the
full length of the car to permit board-
ing or alighting at any point.

Combination or "Semi-Open"
Car: Divided between open and
closed sections, this arrangement was
popular in California, where weather
changes were often sudden.

California Car: This variation,
the original type of "semi-open" car,
placed the closed section at the center.

Convertible Car: Equipped with
removable side panels and windows,
the "full convertible," which enjoyed
only modest popularity, was an
attempt to develop an open car suit-
able for year-around operation.

Semi-Convertible Car: Window
sash which could be removed, or
which disappeared into wall or roof

pockets, made the semi-convertible a
practical car for both winter and sum-
mer operation, and it was built in
great numbers for interurban lines in
all parts of the U. S.

motor was used for express or light
freight service.

B-B Steeple-Cab Locomotive:
This locomotive, the most widely
used locomotive type for interurban
freight service, had a center cab of
variable length, with sloping hoods
at each end that housed a part of
its air, electrical, and other equip-
ment. These machines were usually
equipped for multiple-unit operation,
and ranged in size from very light
units to ones weighing as much as 100
tons. Standardized lines of steeple-
cabs were produced by such builders
as GE and Baldwin-Westinghouse.



S ■ Bj II II 11 11

*§jgg|g^ ^"^^■^^■■^^■^EflJBg^


Articulated Car: Articulation,
with two carbodies resting on a com-
mon truck, made possible a high-
capacity unit which could still nego-

B-B Box-Cab Locomotive: Oth-
erwise identical to the steeple-cab de-
sign, the box-cab locomotive had all
of its equipment installed in a full-
length cab. The arrangement was
simplicity itself, but the design was
never as popular as the steeple-cab,
principally because visibility was not
as good in switching operations.


tiate the restrictive curvature common
to most interurbans. Another type of
articulated car, consisting of a short
carbody suspended between two
single-truck cars and often described
as "two rooms and a bath," was used
on a few street railways.


Box or Express Motor: Essential-
ly a motorized baggage car, with con-
trols at one or both ends, the box

B-B + B-B Articulated Locomo-
tive: Several interurban lines with
extremely heavy freight traffic built
powerful locomotives of this ar-
rangement, which employed four
power trucks under a pair of artic-
ulated frames to operate through
short radius electric line curves.


Overhead Systems: A trolley
pole, which was held against the wire







by the tension of springs mounted in
a swiveling trolley base, was the usual
means of current collection for over-
head systems. Originally the use of a
large trolley wheel, 6 inches or more
in diameter and cast from a variety
of compositions, was favored for cur-
rent collection. A trolley "harp" held
the wheel and provided a positive
means of electrical contact. In later
years sliding shoes were developed
which seemed to work better, and
they were eventually substituted for
wheels on most lines. In case of de-
wirement the flailing trolley pole
often caused damage to the overhead
construction, and some lines used
various types of retrievers, which
automatically pulled the pole down
when the shoe or wheel became dis-
engaged from the wire.


The amount of current that could
be successfully drawn by a single trol-
ley wheel or shoe was limited, and
for heavy-duty lines on which large
currents were required the panto-

graph system was preferred. The pan-
tograph, employing one or two flat
collectors which slid along the wire,
was raised and held against the wire
by springs and was lowered by air

The use of "pole bow" trolleys,
which combined some of the features
of an ordinary pole trolley and a pan-
tograph, although common in Europe,
was rare in North America. Either a
flat collector or a roller was held
against the wire by spring tension.
Only one line, the Indianapolis &
Cincinnati Traction Company, used
this system for an extended period.

Third-Rail Systems: Current
collection from third-rail systems was
usually by means of a truck-mounted
iron collection shoe, which was held
against the top of the power rail by
its own weight. In protected third-
rail installations, where the power
rail was usually inverted, an "under-
running" shoe, held in place by
spring tension, was used.

Underground Conduit Systems:
Sliding shoes on a truck-mounted
"plow," which projected through the
slot between the rails, collected cur-
rent from the underground power
rail. Two shoes were usually neces-
sary, since most conduit systems had
a separate return rail.


The double-truck car was virtually
universal in interurban operation,
and truck design largely followed the
pattern of steam railroad passenger
car practice. The typical interurban
truck was a four-wheel design of the
M.C.B. (Master Car Builders) type,
with the car weight carried to the
truck frame by a transverse bolster
beam supported by leaf springs, and
the load in turn carried to the axles
through coil springs and equalizer
bars. Trucks were usually built up
from steel shapes and forged sections,
although some builders used pressed
steel assemblies, and in later years
a few cars were built with cast steel
trucks. Several of the major car-
builders, such as St. Louis and Brill.


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Online LibraryWilliam D. MiddletonThe interurban era → online text (page 20 of 23)