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Initial electric service over
the Short Line was operated
with substantial wooden
equipment manufactured
by the Southern Car Com-
pany at High Point, N. C.
Because of the cumber-
some transformers and com-
plicated controls required
for the company's 6600-
volt A.C. power system the
cars were remarkably
heavy, weighing all of 50
tons. A train, made up
of two of the ponderous
coaches and a pair of
trailers evidently dating
from the Short Line's steam
days, was photographed at
Annapolis in the charge
of a handsomely mous-
tachioed conductor.
O. F. Lee Collection.



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i, Tl-

fex. -^,

With express and mail piled high on the front platform, B&A car No. 205 approached
the Linthicum Heights station in 1949 on the way to Annapolis. William D. Middleton.

When the B&A went on its own in 1935 trolley wire was strung over the Baltimore &
Ohio main line and the electric cars began operating into the B&O's Camden Station at Bal-
timore. In 1949 car No. 94 negotiated the specialwork at Carroll Tower to leave the
B&O main and head south on single track to Annapolis. William D. Middleton.

The clanging of the crossing bell was muted by a wet, clinging snow as a southbound two-
car B&A train rolled through Linthicum Heights in December 1948. Edward J. Melanson.





fc. n v t, t— ~

Until 1954 the Hagerstown & Frederick Railway, under Potomac Edi-
son control, maintained the last of its once extensive passenger opera-
tion, a service which wandered 18 miles north from Frederick to
Thurmont, where connections were made with n'ntinline trains of the
Western Maryland Railway. Combine No. 171 met the Western
Maryland local from Baltimore in 1932 (above) and then headed
south to Frederick (below). Both Photos: John Stern.

Ready for the 25-mile run to Clarksburg, an orange Jewett interurban peered out
from the gloom of the Monongahela-W est Penn Public Service Company's inter-
urban terminal at Weston, W. Va., in 1941. Monongahela Valley passenger opera-
tion by the company continued until after World War II. Howard E. Johnston.



V* tefcKfc








/« j heavily wooded setting a lightweight Cincinnati interurban and a much older wooden Jewett
combine met at Philadelphia siding on Monongahela-W est Penn's Clarksburg-W eston line in 1946.
By this time the cars were being operated by the City Lines of West Virginia. John F. Horan.

Electric Cars in the Old Dominion

In its time the Washington & Old Dominion Rail-
way provided such amenities as extra-fare, open-
platform observation cars and porter service on its
trains which operated some 52 miles up the Potomac
Valley from Georgetown, D. C, to the Blue Ridge
foothills at Bluemont over the rails of a former
Southern Railway System branch, acquired and elec-

trified by the W&OD in 1912. Another W&OD line
carried excursionists to the Great Falls of the Po-
tomac, north of Washington. Service on this line,
it was said, tended to be casual. In 1916 company of-
ficials were obliged to reprimand a motorman who
carried a shotgun on the front platform and took
potshots through the open front window at rabbits
which were lured onto the rails by the headlight

An Old Dominion local, having transported mail, express, and a few passengers to the communities
along the way, unloaded at its Bluemont terminal in 1937. The crack Loudon Limited of earlier days
stopped only at a few points of unquestioned importance along the line. E. E. EDWARDS.

To the consternation of motorists on U. S. highways 19 and 21, this interurban
made an abrupt ISO-degree turn, crossing and recrossing the pavement, to gain
access to its bridge across the Norfolk & Western main line at Bluefield, W. Va.,
on the Tri-City Traction Company's interurban run to nearby Princeton. Beneath
the skirting and fanciful striping, car No. 120 was just another curved-side Cin-
cinnati lightweight. The cars continued to operate over the 12-mile line for an-
other seven years after this photograph was taken in 1940. Stephen D. Maguire.


The Norfolk & Southern Railway, a
steam road, operated a short interur-
ban line from Norfolk to Cape Henry
and the resorts of Virginia Beach.
Combine No. 45, with an open trailer
in tow, waited on the Virginia Beach
wye about 1905. Gasoline rail
buses took over the service in 1935.
Allan H. Berner Collection.

White-collar Federal office workers
and tourists alike flocked aboard the
cars of the Washington, Alexandria &
Mt. Vernon Railway, later the Wash-
ington-Virginia Railway. This early
train, northbound at Potomac Park,
was jammed to the platforms.
LeRoy O. King Collection.

Such features as pantographs,
catenary overhead, and heavy
cars like combine No. 101 seemed
a little out of place on the Rich-
mond & Chesapeake Bay Rail-
way, a 6600-volt A.C. line which
operated all of 14 miles of track
from Richmond to Ashland, Va.
hater on the railway was con-
verted to direct current power
and more appropriate subur-
ban cars were acquired for the
service. General Electric


Unique among interurbans was the W ashington-
Virginia's parlor car Mount Vernon, aboard which
countless thousands rode in princely splendor to
view the Washington estate and tomb. Built by the
St. Louis Car Company in 1904 as the Mabel, the car
was originally owned by the Lewis Publishing
Company, publishers of Woman's Magazine and
Woman's Farm Journal, and was employed for the
entertainment of company friends atui visitors
during the 1904 St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Ex-
position. One compartment was furnished as a

parlor, with a handsomely carved settee in the center,
tastefully upholstered in a fine yellow fabric har-
monizing with the ceiling, curtains, and portieres,
which were pea green. Upholstered chairs and an
inlaid mahogany desk completed the parlor furnish-
ings. A smoker section and a completely equipped
buffet were installed in the opposite end of the car.
The elegant Mount Vernon posed for this pho-
tograph outside the railway's Four Mile Run
carhouse in 1923. Howard E. Johnston

Catenary in the Carolinas

Carolina utility and tobacco tycoon James Bu-
chanan "Buck" Duke, founder of such diverse in-
stitutions as the Duke Power Company, Duke Uni-
versity, the Duke Endowment, and the American
Tobacco Company "Tobacco Trust," added a high
class interurban to the list shortly before World War
I. Duke's electric line, the Piedmont & Northern
Railway, actually consisted of two physically isolated
divisions, totaling 130 route miles in length, which
extended from Greenwood to Spartanburg, S. C, and
from Gastonia to Charlotte, N. C. Plans to close the
51-mile "missing link" between the two divisions,
and to undertake ambitious extension projects to
Winston-Salem and Durham, were temporarily de-
layed by World War I and the need for major
postwar rehabilitation after the disaster of Federal
control. Ready to go again in 1927, P&N announced
that work was "about to begin," only to be thwarted
once more, this time by the Interstate Commerce
Commission, which claimed jurisdiction over the
new construction under the 1920 Transportation Act
and denied permission. Claiming exemption from
I.C.C. control as an interurban, Piedmont & North-
ern fought all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court
before finally giving up the fruitless battle in
1930. 1

Piedmont &
founder and
tobacco tycoon
James Buchan-
an "Buck"
Duke. Pied-
mont &

With a uniformed porter in attendance at the step
box, this two-car P&N train was ready to roll over
the South Carolina Division. The parlor car Cataw-
ba, once a handsome open-platform observation
car, had suffered the installation of this graceless
solarium rear end in an unfortunate attempt at mod-
ernization. Piedmont & Northern Railway.

Headed by combine No. 2101, a two-car
train roared through a raw cut near Lyman,
S. C, in 1947. Charles A. Brown.

A two-car P&N train rolled into Spartanburg,
at the northernmost end of the South Carolina
Division, in 1947. Charles A. Brown.

ib its 1 1 * * K fe


A prospering textile industry grew up in the Pied-
mont Carolinas along with the Piedmont & North-
ern. The railway claimed, without exaggeration, "a
mill to the mile," and its freight business increased
as passenger traffic declined. Freight power such as

118-ton, 16-wheeled GE-built No. 5611, which
wheeled tonnage through a deep cut near Taylors,
S. C, in 1947, became the order of the day in the
final years of the line's electric operation.
Charles A. Brown.


Summer homes and cottages at Wrightsville Beach, N. C, were right handy to the
tracks of the Tidewater Power Company' s 14-mile interurban line to Wilmington.
The double track roadbed substituted for a street. Car No. 63 rolled along be-
tween the board sidewalks in November 1938. Robert G. Lewis.

Atlanta's Georgia Power Company, which operated interurbans to nearby Stone
Mountain and Marietta, followed the commendable, if rare, practice of naming its
interurbans after distinguished local personages. Finished in a cheerful red and
cream livery, the Richard Peters (left) met the A. Stephens Clay on the Marietta
line in 1942. Fitted with automatic couplers and train doors for multiple-unit
operation, they were unique among the numerous curved-side lightweights
turned out by the Cincinnati Car Company. Stephen D. Maguire.


The Interurban's Midwest Empire

The North Central States




For the benefit of the company photographer, one of Cincinnati & Lake Erie's new lightweight
cars posed at Springfield, O., in 1930 in a classic tableau of trainside activity. Mayfield Photos Inc.


The Interurban's Midwest Empire

The North Central States

1HERE WAS, it has been said with but little
exaggeration, an interurban line wrapped around
nearly every Indiana county courthouse. The Mid-
west was the heartland of the interurban, and here
it grew in its greatest profusion and purest form.
Within the five East North Central states of Ohio,
Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin was con-
centrated some 7540 miles of interurban railway —
better than 40 per cent of the U. S. total. Ohio had
a greater interurban mileage than any state in the
Union, and Indiana was not far behind. There was
hardly a major city in either state that was not
reached by at least one interurban line. The popula-
tion centers of southern Michigan were laced to-

gether with an equally extensive trolley network.
Illinois ranked fourth in national interurban mile-
age, with a network of major lines radiating from
Chicago and the greatest of all Midwest interur-
bans — Congressman McKinley's Illinois Traction
System — slicing through central Illinois from St.
Louis to the Indiana border. Wisconsin alone among
Midwestern states east of the Mississippi lacked
broad electric railway development, but among the
few Dairyland interurbans was one of the finest
systems of the entire Midwest. West of the Mississip-
pi Midwestern interurban development was less
frequent, except in Iowa, where flourished some
of the most successful of all U. S. interurbans.

An early nighttime photograph at the Springfield (O.) interurban depot recorded
in dramatic fashion the dashing front end of the Indiana, Columbus & Eastern
Traction Company's interurban No. 93. Formed in 1906 from several financial-
ly distressed lines, the IC&E became part of the great Ohio Electric Railway
system in 1907, went its own way after dismemberment of the OE in 1921, and
finally became part of the Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad. O. F. Lee Collection.



Among electric railway historians are some
who regard the Akron, Bedford & Cleve-
land Railroad as the first real interurban.
Certainly the company's 35-mile line between
Cleveland and Akron, opened in 1895, two
years after the pioneer Oregon City interurhan,
was among the earliest of the major interur-
han systems. Shortly after the turn of the
century the AB&C became part of the Everett-
Moore syndicate's Northern Ohio Traction &
Light Company that ultimately expanded into
one of the major Ohio electric railways, with
street and interurban railway operations
throughout much of northeastern Ohio.
Workmen at the Canton carbarn posed about
1910 with an assorted line-up of Northern
Ohio city and interurban equipment.
Stephen D. Maguire Collection.


Despite phenomenal depression deficits the Lake Shore
Electric Railway, one of the most important Ohio in-
terurhans, managed to keep going until 1918, when this
big Jewett interurban rumbled through the streets of
Lakewood to Cleveland on the last day of operation. In
more prosperous days LSE did a big excursion business
to the numerous Lake Erie resorts along its route from
Cleveland to Toledo, and through cars transported long-
distance passengers all the way to Lima and Detroit over
connecting electric lines. G. R. Boeddener.

The trainshed in this 1926 scene is at
the Northern Ohio's then new Akron
terminal. The motor bus connection
operated a direct service to Youngs-
town, which could be reached from
Akron only by roundabout interur-
ban travel. Dudley S. Weaver


Aside from the Ohio Electric system, Ohio's larg-
est interurban was the Cleveland, Southwestern &
Columbus Railway, which operated a total of 217
miles of track emanating from Cleveland to Wooster,
Bucyrus, and Norwalk. The "Green Line" operated
its route to Norwalk in spirited competition with
the Lake Shore Electric Railway, which also reached
the city from Cleveland. The rivalry led to a re-
markable race between the two interurbans on
December 11, 1903, when a Norwalk group char-
tered two electric cars, one from each line, for an
excursion to Cleveland. Each of the lines made

elaborate preparations for the race, and the chartered
cars were given right of way over all other move-
ments. The Southwestern car reached Cleveland
first, requiring only an hour and a half for the 58-
mile trip, 45 minutes faster than regular limited
schedules. Delayed by a broken wire, the LSE car
lost the race, although its actual running time ex-
cluding the delay was 10 minutes better. Ultimately,
the Lake Shore's faster line won out over the South-
western, and the "Green Line" cut its route back
to Oberlin in 1924. This wrote finis to a traction ver-
sion of the Broadway vs. Century races.

Among the few steel cars operated by the Southwestern were a half dozen of these heavy 37-
ton, 62-foot cars of a design peculiar to the G. C. Kuhlman Car Company of Cleveland,
which manufactured them in 1919 for service on the company's Southern Division. Freshly
rebuilt as a parlor car and finished in new orange, blue, and ivory colors. No. 205 operated
in limited train service from Cleveland to Mansfield and Galion. O. F. Lee Collection.

In an early scene at Seville Junction on the Southwestern 's Southern Division, a limited car is en route to
Cleveland from Bucyrus, where the company made a connection for Columbus. Max E. Wilcox Collection.

Ohio's only third-rail electric line, the Scioto Valley Traction Company, op-
erated interurban routes constructed to exceptionally high standards from
Columbus to Lancaster and Chillicothe. Original equipment for the "Valley
Route," such as 1903 American Car & Foundry coach 104, was of remarkably
simple lines for a time when interurban car design tended to the ornate. The
60-foot wooden coach seated 71 on plain cane-upholstered seats. Later on, Sci-
oto Valley Traction bought heavy steel cars and during the last few years of pas-
senger operation provided several parlor car limited schedules on both of its lines.

O. F. Lee Collection.


m si





Operating over one of the few stretches of
electric railway actually constructed by the
company, a southbound Ohio Electric
Toledo-Lima local loaded passengers on
Keyser Avenue in Deshler, O., in 1910.
John A. Rehor Collection.

Flanges squealed as this Ohio Electric ivood
combine negotiated abrupt track curvature
in the streets of Zanesville, O. The
car was characteristic of hundreds of
its contemporaries on the interurban prop-
erties of the Midwestern states. Ste-
phen D. Maguire Collection.

Largest of all the Ohio interurbans, for a rela-
tively brief period at least, was the Ohio Electric
Railway system organized in 1907 by the Schoepf-
McGowan syndicate, which by leases and new con-
struction assembled a network of over 600 miles ex-
tending from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, west-

ward to Richmond and Fort Wayne, Ind., and as
far east as Zanesville, O. In the years following
World War I the financially distressed OE system
began to fall apart, and by 1921 all of its various
predecessor companies had resumed independent


Red Devils in the Buckeye State

Beginning with the reorganization of the bank-
rupt Cincinnati & Dayton Traction Company as the
Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railway in 1926, the
principal lines of the dismembered Ohio Electric
Railway system were reassembled by a group headed
by Dr. Thomas Conway Jr. The CH&D was liberal-
ly rebuilt, new equipment was purchased, and a
greatly expanded freight service developed. In 1930
CH&D was joined with the Indiana, Columbus &
Eastern Traction Company and the Lima-Toledo
Railroad, both former OE lines, to form the Cin-
cinnati & Lake Erie Railroad, which extended from
Cincinnati to Toledo, with a branch from Spring-

field to Columbus, and from 1931 to 1936 operated
the Dayton & Western Traction Company. Twenty
splendid lightweight, high-speed cars were acquired
for new limited services, and such innovations as
rail-highway containers were adopted for the sys-
tem's important l.c.l. freight operation. Until aban-
donment of the Eastern Michigan-Toledo Railway in
1932, such C&LE limiteds as the Meteor, the Ar-
roivhead, and the Rocket operated in through Cin-
cinnati-Detroit service three times daily, and ex-
tensive through freight services were operated with
connecting electric lines. The C&LE experiment
only proved the hopelessness of the interurbans'
plight; by 1932 the system was in receivership and
by 1939 its interurban lines were entirely abandoned.

This most famous of all Cincinnati & Lake Erie photographs depicted high-speed
interurban No. 126 during the course of a race with an airplane staged for news-
reel cameras near Dayton in July 1930. The Cincinnati-built car attained a
reputed speed of 97 miles per hour to outdistance the plane. This and similar
publicity stunts served to introduce the new C&LE system to Ohioans in dra-
matic fashion. Mayfield Photos Inc.

Medium-weight equipment delivered by the G. C, Kuhlman Car Company in 1927 for the Conway rehabili-


tation of Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton made up a three-car C&LE train. George Krambles Collection.


"The comfortable car goes kiting
along sounding a fish-horn blast like
schooners on the Grand Banks," wrote
Christopher Morley of a trip over
the "Red Electric." A "Red Devil"
sped southbound on a Cincinnati
Limited schedule in 1937. Alfred
Seibel, from Jeffrey K. Winslow

The most important of the several con-
necting lines between the electric systems
of Ohio and Indiana was the Dayton &
Western Traction Company, a link in a
direct route between Dayton and Indian-
apolis. During the company's existence
it was variously under control of the
Ohio Electric Railway, the Cincinnati &
Lake Erie, and finally the Indiana Railroad,
with a few periods of independent op-
eration. This freshly overhauled train was
some of the equipment employed in the
company's through Buckeye Special and
Hoosier Special service between Dayton and
Indianapolis, operated jointly with the
connecting Terre Haute, Indianapolis &
Eastern. O. F. Lee Collection.





Among the more obscure Ohio interurbans was
the Hoc king-Sunday Creek Traction Company,
operating a I 5-mile line between Athens and
Nelsonville in the coal country of southeastern
Ohio. A planned extension to a junction with the
Scioto Valley Traction Company at Lancaster never
materialized, and the little line remained isolated
from the remainder of the state s electric railway
network. Unlike the majority of Midwestern in-
terurbans, the company employed equipment of the
street railway type. No. 14, on a trestle midway
between the two terminals, was typical. Charles
Goethe Collection.

Toledo, with no less than 10 inter urban lines radiat-
ing in every direction, was among the leading Mid-
western interurban centers. Longest lived of the
Toledo lines, and indeed, one of the most enduring
of all Ohio interurbans, was Toledo, Port Clinton &
Lakeside Railway. TPC&L extended eastward on the
Marblehead peninsula to Marblehead and Bay Point,
where a connection was made with Lake Erie steam-
ers operating to the Cedar Point resort and Sandus-
ky. Remnants of the system survived until 1958 as
the freight-only Toledo & Eastern Railroad. When
Niles coach No. 6 was photographed at Port Clinton
in the late '30's, the company was known as the
Ohio Public Service Company. Hayden Alford


The exquisitely furnished and detailed Martha, Union
Tractions official car, was employed only for the most im-
portant of occasions. O. F. Lee Collection.

Rarely was interurban equipment more magnificent than
that of Union Tractions Hoosierland of 1925, headed by
the new steel combine Fort Wayne, finished in a deep red.

O. F. Lee Collection.

Stately Cars in Hoosierland

The first — and the largest — of the great Indiana
interurban systems was that of the Union Traction
Company, which operated over 400 miles of line
in central Indiana radiating northeast and north
from Indianapolis. The Union Traction system
was initially conceived by Charles L. Henry of
Anderson, the "father of the interurban," who de-
veloped plans for an interurban linking Anderson
with Muncie, Marion, and Indianapolis in 1892.
The panic of 1893 prevented the immediate start of
construction, and it was not until 1898 that the first
car operated over 11 miles of track between Ander-
son and Alexandria. The initial cars developed by
Union Traction largely established the arrangement
that was to become typical of Midwestern inter-
urban equipment, and the company was among the
first (in 1913) to acquire all-steel equipment. The
company's powerhouse at Anderson was the first
to employ a three-phase distribution system. Power
was generated and distributed from Anderson at
15,000 volts to substations about 12 miles apart,
where transformers and rotary converters changed
it to 600-volt D.C. for the trolley wire, an arrange-
ment that was to become virtually standard for in-
terurban operation. Parlor-buffet cars were provided
on a few of the chief Union Traction routes,
and the company's timecard listed such memorable
interurban name trains as the Marion Flyer, the
Kokomo Traveler, and the Muncie Meteor.



The Indianapolis & Louisville Traction Company, which formed the Seymour-Sellersburg (hid.) link
in the route between the two cities, was the first interurban to actually begin operation with the
newly developed 1200-volt D.C. electrification system. Since equipment of the other two lines in
the route was capable of operation on 600-volt current only, Indianapolis & Louisville Traction
cars were used exclusively for the celebrated Dixie Flyer and Hoosier Flyer through limited sched-
ules installed in 1908. Niles interurbans provided the initial service. General Electric Company.

Late in 1907, with the completion of the Indianap-
olis & Louisville Traction Company, a through in-
terurban routing over the rails of three independent
electric lines became available between the two
cities. The southernmost portion of the route rep-

resented one of utilities baron Samuel Insull's first
ventures into electric railways, and by 1912 Insull
had acquired control of the entire route, which then

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Online LibraryWilliam D. MiddletonThe interurban era → online text (page 8 of 23)