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were a dozen fast and heavy Kuhlman interurhans of particularly graceful proportions. Two of them

are shown here, glistening in freshly applied varnish. George Krambles Collection.

New York's longest lived interurban was the Jamestown, West field &
Northivestern, which was created in 1913 by electrification of a bank-
rupt steam railroad that operated up the east shore of Chautauqua Lake
from Jamestown to a junction with the New York Central at West-
field. A phenomenal snowfall caused complications when it came time
for the JW&NW to discontinue passenger service in November 1947,
as this "last day" scene at Westfield indicates, and the company was forced
to precede its passenger cars with a locomotive to break through heavy
drifts on the line. Robert W. Richardson.

* vx.



The B&LE emerged from an extended receivership in 1924 with a new manage-
ment and a new name, the Buffalo & Erie Railway. Fourteen lightweight "fish-
belly" interurhans were delivered the next year by the Cincinnati Car Com-
pany. The first really fast lightweight cars built, they were capable of mile-a-
minute speeds. Weighing only half as much as the big wooden cars they replaced,
and designed for one-man operation, the new interurhans reduced the company's
operating costs per car-mile by over 25 per cent. Interior appointments in-
cluded parlor chairs, available at no extra cost, and for a brief period, limited
cars were staffed with porters. Shortly after the new equipment went into service
a limited from Buffalo rolled through Erie streets in heavy flivver traffic.
Fred E. Barber, from Howard E. Johnston Collection.



*» » » i i 1

"I I 'P i 1- 1 •>


The New York, Westchester & Boston, opened in 1912, was one of
the most superbly engineered — and expensive — ■ lines of the electric
traction era. Constructed to standards equal to those of the mainline
electrification of its parent New Haven, the Westchester employed
1 1 ,000-rolt A.C. power, a catenary overhead supported by heavy steel
structures, a grade-crossing-free right of way, and reinforced concrete
stations of truly monumental architecture. Planned to relieve com-
muter congestion on the Neiv Haven's Grand Central Terminal line,
the NYW&B never developed sufficient traffic to pay its high costs or
to even approach its tremendous passenger-carrying capacity. Shortly
before abandonment in 1957 a White Plains car and a two-car Port
Chester train crossed a massive, four-track steel viaduct in Mt. Vernon
that characterized the Westchester. George E. Votava.

The Elmira, Coming & Waverly
Railway's route between Elmira
and Coming was only a year old
W hen inter urbans 107 and 110
met at a siding near Big Flats,
on the banks of the Chemung
River, in 1912. In pre-auto-
mobile days vacation travel to
summer cottages along the riv-
er furnished a considerable
traffic. Stephen D. Maguire

New Jersey's Burlington & Mount Holly Traction Railroad Company was an
early Pennsylvania Railroad electrification experiment. The line's One-Spot,
a trim combine, toned an open-platform coach belonging to its parent.
Stephen D. Maguire Collection.

The last New Jersey interurban was the At-
lantic City & Shore Railroad, which operated
between the resort centers of Atlantic City and
Ocean City. After the cars reached the out-
skirts of the line's terminal cities, trolley poles
were hooked down for a fast ride over third-
rail-equipped trackage of the Pennsylvania
Railroad. In 1947 "Shore Fast Line" interur-
ban 117 traversed the long trestle crossing
Great Egg Harbor River, between Ocean City
and Somers Point. John A. Rehor.

Pennsylvania Dutch

More scenic than rapid was the
Philadelphia & Easton Electric Rail-
way, whose cars required fully 2
hours to negotiate the 32-mile route
between Easton and Doylestown,
Pa. The line was part of a route
to Delaware Water Gap resorts for
unhurried Philadelphians, requir-
ing no less than 6 hours and five
changes of cars en route for the 84-
mile journey. One of the company's
little trolleys rattled through splen-
did Delaware Valley scenery near
Raubsville not many years after
opening in 1904. Stephen D.
Maguire Collection.


The Northampton Transit Company, which wandered some

18 miles northward from Easton to Bangor, Pa., was another

link in the leisurely scenic route from Philadelphia to the

Water Gap. Passengers were scarce in the line's sparsely settled

territory, and the economies of Cincinnati lightweight cars

were introduced in 1924. Bright and new, one of them

paused at the company' s neat station at a park not far from

Easton. Stephen D. Maguire Collection.

- Oil*.

to. .«$-

Southbound to Norristotvn, Pa., a Lehigh
Valley Transit Company Liberty Bell Limited
reached the crest of the long grade up Lehigh
Alountain at Summit Lawn one June after-
noon in 1950. William D. Middleton.

Abandonment was not far away and the weeds grew
unchecked between the rails when these ex-C&LE
Liberty Bell Limiteds met at the Quakertown sid-
ing in 1950. William D. Middleton.

In 1903, with the opening of a new line to the
Philadelphia suburb of Chestnut Hill, the Lehigh
Valley Transit Company, whose operations had
heretofore been largely centered in the Allentown
area, embarked on the first step of a grand plan for
a high-speed electric railway that would reach both
Philadelphia and New York. The Pennsylvania
Dutch interurban never made it beyond Pennsyl-
vania borders, but its Allentown-Philadelphia "Lib-
erty Bell Route" achieved deserved fame. After ex-
tensive rebuilding for high-speed operation and con-
struction of a Norristown connection with the newly
completed high-speed, third-rail Philadelphia &
Western in 1912, LVT was able to halve running
times between the two cities. Combined with low-
er fares, the faster service enabled the company to
divert a considerable passenger traffic from the steam
trains of the competing Reading Company. By
means of connections LVT was able to accommodate
excursionists to the popular Delaware Water Gap, a
traffic which the company assiduously promoted
with its widely shown publicity film, "A Honey-
moon Trip to Delaware Water Gap."



After suffering a two-thirds decline in its passen-
ger traffic during a decade of depression, LVT re-
juvenated its interurban business in 1939 with
extensively remodeled lightweight rolling stock
from defunct Midwestern traction properties.
Thirteen of the Cincinnati & Lake Erie's renowned
high-speed cars were refinished in "picador cream"
trimmed in "mountain ash scarlet," and provided
with aluminum roofs, stainless-steel pilots, and
chromium-plated accessories for Liberty Bell Lim-
ited service. Interiors were refinished and re-
upholstered, and some of the cars were provided

with club compartments at the observation end.
Two years later a former Indiana Railroad car was
similarly refurbished and provided with lounge
furniture throughout, along with such elaborate
touches as a miniature hanging wall garden, com-
plete with sansevieria and philodendron plants.
Four Cincinnati curved-side lightweights were ac-
quired in 1919 from the Dayton & Troy Electric
Railway in Ohio for Easton Limited service. Fresh
frotn overhaul, one of them was photographed at
LVT's Fairview Shops in Allentown. David M.
Knauss, Commercial Photographer.

Freshly done up in maroon and trimmed in silver, Liberty Bell interurban No. 800
trundled through the passing track at School Siding in Center Valley in 19%.
When originally delivered by Jewett in 1912, No. 800 was among the first railroad
cars equipped with roller bearings. John P. Scharle.

Bullets to Norristown

"The Philadelphia & Western . . . marks another
noteworthy step in the development of heavy elec-
tric traction for high-speed transportation of the
suburbs of our large cities," observed the Street Rail-
way Journal on the occasion of the line's opening
between Upper Darby and Strafford in 1907; and
indeed, the P&W's builders had set a new standard
for the electric railway industry. Constructed with-
out a single grade crossing with roads or other
railroads, the double-track, third-rail-operated P&W
was built with maximum grades of 2Vi per cent and
a maximum curvature of 5 degrees, despite the ex-
ceedingly irregular topography through which it
operated. To meet these exceptional standards, the

builders excavated a million cubic yards of rock and
earth and placed a like amount in fills. The entire
line was governed by an absolute block signal sys-
tem, the first ever installed on an interurban. Com-
muters from Strafford, Norristown (which was
reached in 1912), and intermediate suburbs were
able to reach downtown Philadelphia with a transfer
to elevated trains at 69th Street Terminal in Upper
Darby, a combination which bettered steam railroad
commuting times. A projected P&W elevated and
subway that would have extended clear to the Dela-
ware River was never built.

In 1930, beset by vigorous competition from new-
ly electrified steam railroad suburban lines and
handicapped by an aging fleet of wooden interur-
bans, a new P&W management, headed by Dr.
Thomas Conway Jr., addressed itself to the task of
restoring the company's competitive position. Ex-
perimentation and wind tunnel research produced
the design for 10 magnificent "Bullet" interurbans,
and major improvements were made to track and
signal systems to permit extremely high speeds. New
schedules instituted upon completion of the half-
million-dollar improvement program cut Norris-
town line express running times by almost a third.
P&W was again, as Electric Railway Journal termed
it, "in the forefront of American high-speed subur-
ban railroads."

The P&W's major engineering work was this 3850-
foot steel bridge that carried the line over numerous
steam railroads, several canals, and the Schuylkill
River into Norristown. A Bullet rumbled across it
one summer day in 1956. William D. Middleton.

En route to Norristown at better than a mile a minute, Philadelphia & Western Bullet 200
leaned into superelevated curvature near Bryn Mawr in 1956. William D. Middleton.




v ■ "Ska






The rhythmic tattoo of steel wheels on open track abruptly became a hollow rumble as a fast moving
Red Arrow interurban flashed across the Crum Creek bridge at Smedley Park on an August afternoon
in 1956 (see text, next page). William D. Middleton.


Red Arrow Trolleys

Sharing 69th Street Terminal space with the Phil-
adelphia & Western was the Philadelphia & West
Chester Traction Company, a still-operating electric
line that can trace its corporate history back more
than a century to the incorporation of the Philadel-
phia & West Chester Turnpike Road Company in
1848. Before the trolley wire went up in 1896, Red
Arrow Lines predecessor companies transported
Main Line commuters in such assorted conveyances
as mule cars and steam dummy trains. Reorganized
as the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Com-
pany in 1936, the Red Arrow system merged with
neighboring Philadelphia & Western in 1954.

Philadelphia Suburban interurban No. 81, a 1932

Brill lightweight capable of speeds up to 76 miles

per hour, loaded homeward-bound commuters at

69th Street one afternoon in 1956. William D.


One of PSTCo's newest cars, a 1949 St. Louis
interurban of PCC streetcar lineage, rolled
along beside a split rail fence on roadside
trackage of the West Chester line near Edge-
mont, Pa., a few days before abandonment of
the Red Arrow Lines' longest route in 1954.
Edward S. Miller.

The Citizens Traction Company of Oil City pro-
vided local and interurban electric service to Oil
City and nearby communities, in the historic oil
lands of northwestern Pennsylvania, not far from
the site of Col. Edwin Drake's epochal strike at
Titusville in 1859. Northbound from Franklin to
Oil City, interurban No. 50 paused at the Reno
switch. The gold-trimmed, medium red J. G. Brill
car employed the manufacturer's popular semi-
convertible system, which provided disappearing
window sash for summer trolleying. Donald K.
Slick Collection.

Pennsylvania traction was typified by light inter-
urban and rural trolley systems of modest ambitions
which radiated from the cities and county seats
in profusion throughout the state. Only rarely
were they interconnected in the fashion of the other-
wise similar systems of New England. Among them
were such lines as the Conestoga Transportation
Company, which centered its activities around Lan-
caster, seat of the county of the same name. This
Conestoga interurban rolled through a forested coun-
tryside on the line to Ephrata in 1946. At one time
the system's rails went all the way to Coatesville,
clear over in the next county. Herman Rinke.

M. S. Hershey, the "Chocolate King," began con-
struction of the Hershey Transit Company in 1904 to
furnish transportation for workmen and milk to
his chocolate factory at newly founded Hershey,
in Dauphin County, Pa. Resplendent in dark green,
trimmed with cream and gold, this well-kept Hershey
interurban wheeled through the manicured grounds
of the Hershey Hotel in 1939. Another electric
line in the Hershey chocolate empire, Hershey Cuban
Railway, still operates. Jeffrey K. Winslow.


Just before plunging into the tun-
nel — nearly a mile in length —
that carried the line under the
hills of Scranton's south side, a
Laurel Line inlerurban thundered
across Roaring Brook in 1951.
John F. Endler Jr.


Heavy Traction in the
Anthracite Country

Eastern financiers in 1900 proposed the construc-
tion of a 200-mile system of interurbans in the popu-
lous Pennsylvania anthracite country. The only part
of the ambitious scheme to materialize was the Lack-
awanna & Wyoming Valley Railroad, which con-
structed a double-track, third-rail line to high stand-
ards over some 20 miles between Scranton and
Wilkes-Barre. One of the earliest interurbans to em-
ploy the third-rail power system, which for a time
was highly regarded for high class interurban roads,
the "Laurel Line" received considerable support
from the Westinghouse interests, which were con-
cerned with the line for experimental purposes; and
George Westinghouse and other company officials
were actually listed as directors of the road for a
short period.

On a bright December day in 1950 an Os-
good Bradley combine, bound for Scranton,
whipped along through a Laurel Line
snowscape near Avoca. John F. Endler Jr.


A Pittsburgh & Butler Street
Railway interurban rolled up to
the Pittsburgh depot in 1914
when horse traffic still shared
street space with the early motor
cars. The interurban' s dash sign
advertised a Damrosch con-
cert. Stephen D. Maguire

A St. Louis-built interurban,
northbound as a Butler Local,
negotiated one of the substantial
steel bridges that ivere frequent
in the hill country traversed by
the Harmony Route. The closely
spaced overhead poles, which
simplified trolley wire construc-
tion at curves, were another
Harmony Route characteristic.
Charles A. Brown Collection.

Operating north from Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh,
Harmony, Butler & New Castle Railway and the
Pittsburgh & Butler Street Railway were associated
broad gauge interurbans of considerable early dis-
tinction in the traction industry. The "Harmony
Route" was one of the first interurbans to use the
superior 1200- volt direct current electrification sys-
tem, and the line's builders employed such radical

departures from conventional practice as the use of
track laid on large concrete blocks embedded in
the roadbed, rather than the usual wooden ties. The
neighboring "Short Line" was originally electrified
in 1905 with a 3300-volt alternating current system,
which was later changed to 6600 volts, and finally,
in 1914, P&B was among the earliest A.C. interur-
bans to convert to the more successful D.C. system.


Short Line interurbans were impressive vehicles. Cincinnati-built No. Ill, a double-end coach seating
")2, weighed almost 38 tons. Trolley poles were used for operation through city streets, but the panto-
graph was raised for fast running through open country. Stephen D. Maguire Collection.

Pittsburgh Railways, which still remains as one of the largest street railway
systems in North America, operated a pair of interurban routes through spec-
tacular scenery to Washington, Donora, Charleroi, and Roscoe. These left
Pittsburgh through the Mount Washington tunnel, the second longest interur-
ban tunnel in the (J. S. St. Louis-built interurban No. 3802, which featured plush-
upholstered bucket seats and rear-facing observation seats, is seen near Thomp-
sonville on the Washington line. The car was the last word in Pittsburgh Rail-
ways interurban equipment until the arrival of radio-equipped, air-cooled PCC
interurbans during the late 1940' 's. Union Switch & Signal Company, from

Robert F. Scanlon.


The conductor on a northbound Butler Flyer did some short flagging while the motorman
called the dispatcher for orders. Stephen D. Maguire Collection.

Orange Trolleys on West Penn Hills

Through wonderfully scenic hills and valleys of
western Pennsylvania, studded with coal tipples and
beehive coke ovens, wandered the distinctive orange
trolleys of the West Penn Railways, a system that

at one time operated 340 miles of electric railway
in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. The
principal West Penn electric lines were included in
the company's Coke Region, located in Westmore-
land and Fayette counties in the bituminous-rich
Allegheny Plateau. X


Northbound from Fairchance to Uniontown, West Penn 706 met furious action on neigh-
boring Baltimore & Ohio, where un articulated hurled smoke and cinders into the sky as it
fought upgrade with a string of hoppers. Lester Wismer, from Stephen D. Maguire.


This is the magnetic track brake employed by West Penn interurbans, which were
without conventional air brake systems. To stop his car a West Penn mo tor man
used controller positions that converted the traction motors to generators. The
current passed through the spring-suspended electromagnets, drawing them down
against the rail and at the same time actuating a series of levers which tightened
brake shoes. Once stopped, the cars were held by cranking up a long gooseneck
hand brake. Anthony F. Krisak.


A few shirt-sleeved passengers gazed momentarily upon the waters of Loyalhanna Creek as car 111
sped across a bridge on the Latrobe line in 1952. John Stern.

Bridges, sharp curves, and perilous grades abounded on the abrupt profile of
West Penn lines. Center-door car 715 traveled across a typical trestle on the
Uniontown-Brownsville line in 1949. This interurban was one of 39 identical air-
less, whistleless cars built by the Cincinnati Car Company and company shops
from 1912 to 1925 which performed a majority of West Penn services there-
after. Anthony F. Krisak.


Trolley Sparks in Dixieland

The South Atlantic States


On the occasion of a 1941 excursion Hagerstown & Frederick Rail-
way interurban No. 160 headed for Myersville, Md., on what was left
of the company's onetime route from Frederick to Hagerstown. The
engaging H&F roamed in roller coaster fashion across the scenic Mary-
land hills, with grades that often seemed perilous in the extreme.
Howard E. Johnston.


Trolley Sparks in Dixieland

The South Atlantic States

SOUTH of the heavily populated industrial areas
of the Middle Atlantic coast, interurbans became in-
frequent. In the less populated, less prosperous states
of the Confederacy beyond the Potomac there were
far fewer opportunities for the quick and plentiful
profits interurban developers so often foresaw in
other areas. Aside from a substantial electric mile-
age in Maryland, there were only occasional in-
terurbans which ventured into the country from
the larger cities, and in the entire region only a
handful of systems existed which could be called of
major importance. Beyond the environs of the na-
tional capital, sustained travel by the electric cars
was not possible.

70 mph across Maryland

Pre-eminent among interurbans of the South
Atlantic states was Maryland's Washington, Balti-
more & Annapolis Railroad, which joined the cities
of its corporate title with a remarkable high-speed
system. Electrified with a 6600-volt A.C. system, the
WB&A's double track Baltimore- Washington main
line was opened in 1908, and limited service was in-
itially provided with huge 62-foot, 44-ton Niles
"Electric Pullmans." Too heavy to permit operation
over Washington streetcar tracks, the big cars were
soon sold and replaced by equipment of more modest
dimensions. Before World War I WB&A, in com-

pany with connecting steamship lines, operated an
extensive excursion business to such widespread
points as Norfolk, Savannah, Boston, and Provi-
dence. A round trip Washington-Atlantic City tour,
for example, which included interurban transporta-
tion to Baltimore, steamship passage to Philadelphia,
and steam railroad travel to Atlantic City, cost only
$5. At the peak of WB&A operations close to 100
trains cleared the Baltimore terminal daily. Wash-
ington limiteds left every half hour, and locals de-
parted hourly. Annapolis trains operated every hour
on the South Shore line and every half hour on the
North Shore route.

WB&A's finest interurbans were 10 of these two-
section articulated cars delivered by ]. G. Brill
in 1927. Seating 94 passengers in plush-upholstered
bucket seats, the 97-foot cars represented a 27 per
cent reduction in weight from the company's older
wooden equipment of comparable capacity. Despite
a half hour spent getting out of Washington over
the local car tracks, these big cars were able to op-
erate between the Washington and Baltimore ter-
minals on schedules that were competitive with the
steam railroads. On some limited schedules, with
65-minute timings for the 40-mile run, average
speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour were main-
tained over the 24 miles of open track between the
two cities. George Krambles Collection.


Originally the steam-powered Annapolis & Elk-
ridge, the WB&A's South Shore line into Annapolis
uas among America's earliest railroads, having op-
erated its first train on Christmas Day 1840. During
the early days of the Civil War its rails were used
by Union troops to bypass Baltimore after Con-
federate sympathizers had cut the Baltimore &
Ohio main line. This two-car special operated to
Annapolis over the line in 1935. Parlor car No. 100,
at the rear of the train, was normally reserved for
charter service or such distinguished tasks as trans-
porting dignitaries from the Capital to the Naval
Academy. Howard E. Johnston Collection.

A three-car Washington-Baltimore train
descended into Pratt Street at Baltimore
from the B&O overcrossing three days be-
fore abandonment in 1935. The two steel
passenger cars that headed the train then
moved west to the Chicago Aurora & Elgin,
where they served for better than 20 yean
more. James P. Shuman, from William
Moedinger Jr.


By Short Line to the Severn Shore

WB&A's direct North Shore route from Balti-
more to Annapolis originally opened in 1887 as the
steam-propelled Annapolis & Baltimore Short Line.
Electrified by the Maryland Electric Railways in
1908, the Short Line was merged into WB&A in
1921. When the bankrupt WB&A was sold at public
auction on the courthouse lawn in Annapolis in
1935, bondholders of the old Short Line bought it
back, reorganized it as the Baltimore & Annapolis
Railroad, and continued to operate the electric cars
until 1950.

On a June afternoon in 1948 B&A combine No. 94
rolled across a placid arm of the Severn River estuary
into the Annapolis terminal. The much-rebuilt
Wason interurban, originally a center-entrance car,
was acquired by the predecessor Short Line in 1914,
when SL junked its A.C. system in favor of 1200-
volt D.C. power. William D. Middleton.

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Online LibraryWilliam D. MiddletonThe interurban era → online text (page 7 of 23)