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on the return trip, and on other occasions entertain-
ment, perhaps by a mandolin club or an "orchestra
gramophone," was provided. During the '20's the
Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee operated "Grand


Opera Specials" during the season, and served a
light supper to opera-goers on the way home. For
those with less cultured tastes Michigan United
Railways agents sold round-trip tickets with coupons
good for cut-rate admission to a circuit of 25-cent
vaudeville theaters, and the Fort Wayne & Wabash
Valley did a good business in dancing party specials.

An Ohio line, the Toledo, Fostoria & Findlay,
built up its week-end traffic with "Sunday Dinner
Excursions," offering a free dinner ticket to any
one of several Findlay restaurants with excursion
tickets from points 20 or more miles away.

A number of Midwestern interurbans constructed
baseball parks to stimulate traffic, and several Ohio
lines organized leagues among on-line communities.

The Cleveland & Southwestern Baseball Trolley
League included six towns reached by the inter-
urban, and the railway donated a silver cup to the
winning team, assisted in advertising, and offered
free rides to the players. One of the line's officers
even acted as the league president.

Southern California's Pacific Electric system oper-
ated what was easily the most extensive excursion
and sight-seeing business of all. Every attraction of
consequence was reached by a PE excursion, and for
the first 20 years or so of the century there just wasn't
any other way to see Southern California. The
"Balloon Route Trolley Trip" (a "$10 trip for a
dollar" ) took tourists out Sunset Boulevard to Hol-
lywood and the beach cities west of Los Angeles.


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The attractions of
/Monarch Park, midway
between Franklin and
Oil City, Pa., stimu-
lated traffic aboard the
electric cars of the Citi-
zens Traction Com-
pany. Twice a day the
Monarch Park Concert
Band performed at
the pagoda, and three
nights a week the Goss-
Green dance orches-
tra played under Japa-
nese lanterns and fake
palm trees in the dance
hall. Both Photos:
Donald K. Slick

A principal source of income for Utah's Salt Lake, Garfield & Western interurban was excursion
travel to the company's Saltair resort on Great Salt Lake, where salt-water bathing, boating,
picnicking, one of the world's largest dance pavilions, and all manner of other diversions
drew great throngs of pleasure seekers. Both Photos: Fred Fellow Collection.




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Pre-eminent among electric car attractions was Prof. Tbaddeus S. C. Loive's Mount Lowe Rail-
way, which transported tourists by incline and narrow gauge trolleys close to the summit of Mount
Lowe, north of Pasadena. This group of early tourists was photographed aboard an "opera seat" car
near the top of the Great Cable Incline. Echo Mountain House, risible in the background, was one
of four hotels operated by the railway. Historical Collections, Security First National Bank,
Los Angeles.

Ohio's Lake Shore Electric Railway did an extensive pleasure travel
business to the many Lake Erie resorts along its line between Cleve-
land and Toledo. This line-up of interurbans transported a -i-H Club group
to Sandusky, where the excursionists transferred to steamers for the offshore
Cedar Point resort. The company offered reduced party and special car rates for
"lodges, secret societies, or any other group." Richard Cook Collection.



With its smartly uniformed
motorman, conductor, and porter
lined up at attention, the North-
ern Ohio Traction & Light Com-
pany's magnificent parlor-ob-
servation car Northern ivas all
set for official duties or special
charter service. Stephen D.
Maguire Collection.

These three carloads of
Southern California tourists
visited the Hollywood resi-
dence and art gallery of
painter Paul de Longpre in
1905, on the Los Angeles
Pacific's famous "Balloon
Route Trolley Trip." Head-
ing the line was No. 400 —
the flagship of LAP's excur-
sion car fleet — which was ap-
propriately finished in royal
blue and fitted with electric
outline lighting. Historical
Collections, Security First
National Bank, Los Angeles.

Among the many attractions were a visit to the
Hollywood studio of world-famous painter Paul de
Longpre, a stop at Santa Monica's Camera Obscura,
and a visit to Venice, which then boasted genuine
canals and gondolas.

The "Orange Empire Trolley Trip" carried trolley
excursionists on a 150-mile tour of the San Ber-
nardino County citrus areas, and the "Triangle
Trolley Trip" offered a look at the beach cities south
of Los Angeles. The "Catalina Special" provided
boat train service to the docks at Wilmington, where
a connection was made with the Avalon steamer
service. In earlier years excursions were operated
to the Ostrich Farm, near San Gabriel, and to E. J.
"Lucky" Baldwin's ranch.

The greatest of all PE's attractions was the famed
Mount Lowe line, the "Greatest Mountain Trolley
Trip in the World," which carried tourists, by
means of the Great Cable Incline and the narrow-
gauge Alpine Division, to Alpine Tavern, 1100
feet below the summit of the mountain. Three other
hotels, hiking trails and bridle paths, a zoo, a

Holiday-bound for the neighboring Bamberger
Railroad's Lagoon amusement park, a mid-' 20' s em-
ployees' excursion from a Utah packing plant rode
eight well-filled interurban cars behind a Salt Lake &
Utah freight locomotive. Fred Fellow Collection.


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Varied indeed was the entertainment
and recreation available to Redondo
Beach (Calif.) excursionists, most of
whom arrived aboard the electric cars
of Henry E. Huntington's Los Ange-
les & Redondo Railway, which became
part of the Pacific Electric Railway
in the Great Merger of 1911. Visi-
tors to the Redondo Pavilion were
treated to such distinguished artists
as famed contralto Mme. Ernestine
Schumann-Heink, seen here playing
the trumpet, accompanied by the
Redondo Band, during a 1909 visit.
Ira L. Swett — Magna Collection.

museum, and an observatory were numbered among
the Mount Lowe line's attractions.

Pacific Electric left no stone unturned in its ex-
cursion business promotion. A general agent was
located in New York, and traveling passenger agents
met special trains as far east as Salt Lake City and
Albuquerque. Around 1910 PE was dispatching as
many as 80 excursion cars hourly from its Los

Angeles terminal, and the popular Balloon Route
trip alone was hauling anywhere from 60,000 to
75,000 passengers a year.

The Washington-Virginia Railway, which oper-
ated to Alexandria and Mount Vernon, was an-
other line that enjoyed an extensive excursion busi-
ness. National magazine and newspaper advertising
was employed, and the line's agents actively solicited


Redondo attractions included beaches, fishing piers, a casino,
and a skating rink. Well-heeled visitors stopped at the Hotel
Redondo (far left), a rambling and ornate resort hostelry
typical of the leisurely pre-motel era. Along with the
shore-hugging railway, the better part of Redondo Beach
resort facilities and much of the town itself were the property
of Mr. Huntington. Ira L. Swett — Magna Collection.

In 1909 Huntington completed the huge Redondo Plunge, which boasted three
heated salt water pools. The main pool, shown here, was the largest indoor salt
water pool in the world. Ira L. Swett — Magna Collection.

tour traffic from high schools and other groups.
Package tours to the nation's capital were offered,
which included, naturally, a special interurban out-
ing to Mount Vernon, complete with a guide and
lecturer. Such intensive promotion increased the
line's tour business from 5000 a year in 1921 to
60,000 annually only five years later.

Many other lines favored with points of historical
interest developed traffic by distributing handy
guides to prospective trolley sight-seers. One such
publication, Wayside Scenes, distributed by the
Philadelphia & Easton Electric Railway, pictured
— in addition to bona fide historical spots — such
establishments as a Doylestown steam laundry and
the "handsomest bar in the Lehigh Valley" at the
Lafayette Cafe in Easton, both of which undoubtedly
paid for the privilege. The West Penn Railways,
which didn't have any particular attractions to offer
excursionists, simply advised its patrons of the
healthful and relaxing benefits of ordinary, every-
day trolleying and suggested to them that they try a
quiet ride on a West Penn car after a hard day's
work as "a tonic that fits one better for the battle

of life that must be taken up the following day."
Trolley excursion travel was cheap, too. Excursion
rates as low as 1 cent a mile were common in Ohio
and Indiana, and one line, the Indianapolis & Cin-
cinnati Traction Company, was carrying Sunday ex-
cursionists for only V3 cent a mile in 1910. In 1927
the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway was selling
a $1 Sunday excursion ticket good for unlimited
travel over its 650 miles of track in the Boston area.
Trolley vacationing became fashionable too in
the regions where the interurban networks were all
encompassing. The Trolley Wayfinder, published
by the New England Street Railway Club, and
dozens of similar volumes made trolley touring
particularly popular in the New England states.
The Brooklyn Eagle published an annual Trolley
Exploring Guide which outlined everything from
Sunday jaunts through the suburbs to journeys that
took the trolley vacationer as far away as Washing-
ton, Boston, or Chicago. A similar Interurban Trol-
ley Guide, published annually in Chicago, made
vacationing on the electric cars easy for Midwest-


"When it comes to cheap, irresponsible, and satis-
factory recreation," proclaimed an article in World's
Work in 1903, "the trolley is certainly the very best

The Albany Southern, which operated through
a favorite summer vacation area along the upper
Hudson, published a widely circulated directory
of summer hotels and boarding houses, a list of
farms, cottages and tenting sites for rent, and real
estate for sale. Several other upstate New York
lines operated tenting grounds and cottage colonies
in resort areas. The Pittsburgh & Butler Street
Railway published the popular Summer Boarding
and Tent Life on the Butler Short Line.

The leisurely, long-distance trolley vacation be-
came popular soon after the turn of the century. Sus-
tained travel was not the thing for the trolley vaca-
tioner, for the frequent service offered by the electric
cars made it convenient to stop over at the many his-
torical sites and scenic attractions along the way. The
New York-Boston trolley tour early became a popu-
lar outing, and there were as many as four different
possible routings over some parts of the trip. In
1904, according to World's Work, it was possible
to make the trip in just two days by "hard and

steady electric travel" at a cost of only S3. 28 in fares.
A few years later the Old Colony Street Railway
Company was offering an even more economical
overnight trolley-steamer service at a cost of only
$1.75. Travelers boarded the cars at Post Office
Square in Boston for the trip to Fall River, where
they transferred to steamers for the overnight run
to New York.

To publicize Boston-New York trolleying, the
Bay State Street Railway fitted out one of its cars
with wicker lounge chairs in 1914 and took a party
of electric railway officials and 25 newspapermen on
a leisurely two-day junket between the two cities,
stopping at New London for the night.

Even more lengthy trolley journeys along the East
Coast were possible. The electric excursionist could
venture as far south as New Castle, Del., and north
to the suburbs of Waterville, Me., on an un-
broken interurban network. In A Trolley Honey-
moon, published in 1904, Clinton W. Lucas de-
scribed a 500-mile, 11-day honeymoon trip on which
he took his bride from Wilmington, Del., to York
Beach, Me.

The New York-Chicago trolley tour, often out-
lined in the various trolley guides for the "enthus-


Here the same portly chief executive is seen greet-
ing a crowd at Hollywood during a 1911 tour

over the Los Angeles Pacific aboard the company's
premier private car El Viento. Title Insur-
ance and Trust Company, Los Angeles.

Along with the common folk, presidents and
would-be presidents rode the electric cars. Proudly
displaying white flags and the presidential seal,
this gleaming special train, made up of office cat-
No. 233 and the matching observation trailer
Champaign, transported Pres. William
Howard Taft over the Illinois Traction System
in 1911 as the guest of company president and
U. S. Congressman William B. McKinley. Lunch
was served aboard the cars during the 1 Vl-hour
trip from Decatur to Springfield, for which
elaborate safety precautions were taken. Op-
posing train movements were stopped, switches
were spiked, flagmen were stationed at every
highway crossing, and a pilot train preceded the
special by 10 minutes.

During the 1912 campaign three-time-loser
William Jennings Bryan addressed a crowd at
Van Wert, O., from the steps of an Ohio Llectric
Railway interurban while campaigning for
Woodrow Wilson. John A. Rehor Collection.


iastic trolley tourist," was of such a time-consuming
and arduous nature that it was hardly calculated to
cause undue concern on the part of steam railway
officials, and was probably more talked about than
actually experienced. In 1910 E. C. Van Valken-
burgh, in a trip recounted for Electric Railway
Journal readers, spent just short of four weeks and
covered 1643 miles in what was described as a
"leisurely outing" between the two cities. Without
side trips the entire journey, covering some 1163
miles, was then possible in 45 to 50 hours of contin-
uous trolley riding, or in a week's time by daylight
travel, at a cost of less than $20. "A better way of
seeing the country at reasonable cost would be hard
to imagine," advised Van Valkenburgh.

Five years later, as outlined in the 1915 Inter-
urban Trolley Guide, the trip took anywhere from

31 to 45 hours of actual trolley riding, depending
upon connections, and covered 23 different electric

The entire journey between the two cities was
never actually possible by trolley. The most direct
route required the use of steam railroads between
Tarrytown and Hudson, N. Y., and again between
Little Falls and Fonda, a total of some 120 miles by
steam. A more circuitous routing through Connecti-
cut and Massachusetts, which was possible for a
period of only about two years around 1917-1918,
reduced the necessary steam mileage to about 55.

The practicality of long-distance trolley travel
was convincingly demonstrated in 1910 by the 2000-
mile "Utica (N. Y. ) Electric Railway Tour." A
Utica-Syracuse interurban car, fitted with lounge
furniture and provided with a porter to attend to the

The practicality of sustained interurban travel was demonstrated
by several Indianapolis Trade Association "Booster's Specials,"
which traveled throughout Indiana to promote the city. This
one, made up of chartered Indiana Union Traction Company
equipment, was photographed at South Bend in 1910. The most
extensive of all such junkets, however, was the 14-day, 2000-
mile /Midwestern tour made the same year by a group of
Utica (N. Y.) "Boosters." George Krambles Collection.

In a time of unhurried travel, combination interurban-steamer through

routings were sometimes available. This Inland Empire System express

from Spokane, Wash., made a dockside connection at Coeur d'Alene, Ida.,

with steamers of the Red Collar Line, which offered service to points on

Coeur d'Alene Lake and the St. Joe River. LeRoy O. King Jr.



comforts of the 26 "Utica Boosters," was used
throughout the excursion, which spread the news of
Utica's business and industrial advantages through
six states to points as far west as Indianapolis and
Detroit. When the boosters returned 14 days later
they were met by a band at the edge of town, and a
triumphant parade of pedestrians, streetcars, wagons,
and automobiles followed the interurban car down
Genesee Street to Bagg's Hotel, where all adjourned
for a banquet and speeches.

Throughout the electric railway era interurban
travel was predominantly of the short-haul, local
variety, and during the early years it was exclusively
so. But soon after the turn of the century, as some
of the traction systems assumed substantial dimen-
sions and an interconnecting network of traction
lines spread across many states, particularly in the

Midwest, interurban traffic men began to develop
an interest in the long-distance passenger. Special
mileage coupon books good for travel over any line,
issued by many Midwestern lines, made long-
distance interurban travel inexpensive. The Central
Electric Railroad Association, for example, sold a
coupon book for S17.50 that was good for S20 worth
of fares over any of its member Midwestern

Sometimes the interurbans developed a long-
distance business between important points by oper-
ating through cars over the rails of two or more
connecting lines. Perhaps the first such invasion
of the steam roads' long-haul market was the de luxe
Indianapolis-Dayton Interstate Limited service in-
augurated in 1905 by the Dayton & Western, the
Richmond Street & Interurban Railway, and the


Indianapolis & Eastern. Special cars built for the
service featured plush parlor seats and heavy Wilton
carpeting in the main compartment, while the
smoking section was fitted with leather upholstered
seats and inlaid linoleum floors. The interior was
finished in St. Jago mahogany with "inlaid decora-
tions of the most recent design." A buffet between
the two compartments served light meals from a
menu said to be every bit the equal of those on
Pullman buffet cars. Such de luxe interurban serv-
ice, it was predicted, would soon become common
between points as far as 200 to 300 miles apart.

Occasionally, when direct electric routings all
the way were not available, the interurbans joined
with other carriers in long-distance through rout-
ings. In 1915 the Fort Wayne & Northern Indiana

"Motorman" was by far the most popular title
for interurban car operators, but a few lines fa-
vored the steam railroads' more pretentious "engi-
neer," and at least one line, the Puget Sound
Electric, compromised on the title "motorneer."
In French Canada he was sometimes a "garde
moteur" and in Cuba (here) a "motorista."
William D. Middleton.

was selling through tickets all the way to St. Louis,
routed over its own line and the Clover Leaf System,
one of the few Midwestern steam railroads that
would have anything to do with the interurbans.
Quite a few years later the Dayton & Western, in
company with the Terre Haute, Indianapolis &
Eastern, was bidding for Dayton-Chicago business
with a through-car routing to Indianapolis, where a
steam railroad connection was made.

In 1910 the Grand Rapids, Grand Haven & Muske-
gon Railway and the Grand Rapids, Holland &
Chicago Railway were offering through service to
Milwaukee and Chicago via steamer connections
at their western terminals. On the West Coast the
California Navigation & Improvement Company
and the Central California Traction Company were
offering the same sort of combination between
San Francisco and Lodi with a through routing that
involved steamers from San Francisco to Stockton,
where passengers transferred to the electric cars for
the final leg of the trip.

In 1927 the Chicago South Shore & South Bend
was offering a Chicago-Detroit "Golden Arrow"
service in conjunction with the Shore Line Motor
Coach Company. A limited train took passengers as
far as South Bend, where they transferred to a non-
stop bus, complete with toilet facilities and an
observation compartment, for the remainder of the
journey. The combination cut a full 3 hours from
the all-bus routing between the two cities.

A year later the Cleveland Southwestern Rail-
way & Light Company began selling through in-
terurban-air tickets to Detroit from points along its
lines. Passengers transferred from the trolleys to
Ford trimotors of the Cleveland-Detroit Air Line at
the Cleveland airport, which was conveniently lo-
cated beside the interurban's line into the city.

As the long-distance passenger business became
more important the larger interurban systems en-
deavored to provide luxury services that were equal
to, or even better than, those offered by the steam
railroads. Parlor cars, heavily carpeted, lavishly
decorated, and staffed with porters, were frequently
installed on the long runs. Light meals were served
from buffet sections on many of them, and several
lines operated full dining cars. A few of the longest
interurbans even introduced sleeping car service.

Bearing such dashing names as Liberty Bell
Limited, Dixie Flyer, and Meteor, de luxe interurban
limiteds sped imperiously through the rolling hills
of the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside, Hoosier
farmland, and California canyon alike, transporting
passengers in princely comfort on their errands of

Surely the electric way was the very best way to
travel, i


In the earlier years of the interurban era, two-man crews of motorman and conductor were almost
universal, and sometimes interurban lines patterned their operating rules after those of steam rail-
roading. Among these was Iowa's Fort Dodge Line, which even as late as 7 95 5 still went about the
fob of running electric cars in the traditional manner. Here conductor F. E. N unamaker passes up a
clearance card from the operator at Fort Dodge to motorman E. J. Berg before their departure with
southbound train No. 2 for Des Moines. Both wore the respective blue serge uniform and overalls
of their occupations. William D. Middleton.


The Interurban Car


Separated by 30 years of progress, these two interurbans bore little resemblance to
one another although they served similar purposes in their respective eras. Mag-
nificent wooden 302 was built by Niles in 1907 for the Washington, Baltimore &
Annapolis and later was sold to the Rock Island Southern. The Key System artic-
ulated unit, in purposeful 1938 styling, covered interurbanlike routes east of San
Francisco, yet had automatic cab signals for rush-hour operation on 1 -minute head-
way over the 1-mile fog-shrouded Bay Bridge. William D. Middleton Collec-
tion (Left); Richard Steinheimer (Above).


The Interurban Car

-DORN of an age which took joy in lavish orna-
mentation, the interurban car of the early years was
a splendid sight. The very first cars were little dif-
ferent from the prosaic streetcars from which they
evolved, but the skilled craftsmen who fashioned the
big electric cars, with the instinctive sense of balance
and proportion common to artisans of their kind,
soon developed an altogether distinctive interurban
car architecture.

With the exception of the shorter length dictated
by operation through city streets, the dimensions of
the interurbans were more like those of steam cars
than those of the city streetcars. Interurban cars
were usually anywhere from 50 to 60 feet long, al-
though cars over 70 feet in length were built for a
few lines. Car width was often restricted by the
width of the "devil strip" between double tracks of
street railway properties. For the 4-foot devil strip
found in a majority of cities a car width of 8'4" was
usually standard, but where clearances allowed, cars
were often built to widths equal to steam railroad
standards. Interurban cars were frequently designed
for double end operation, with controls at each end
and reversible seating, which enabled quick turn-
arounds without the necessity for loops or wyes.
Usually, however, interurban operators favored the
single end car, which permitted better interior ar-
rangement, eliminated the cost of duplicate controls
and fenders, and enabled the use of less expensive
nonreversible seating.

Early car construction was invariably of wood
and was aptly described as "house-upon-a-flat-car"
construction. Heavy timber sills provided the entire
structural support, and the carbody simply rested

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Online LibraryWilliam D. MiddletonThe interurban era → online text (page 3 of 23)