Los Angeles Railway

LATL 5 Line Abandonment: After 60 years, rail service returns (in part)

Posted on: February 18th, 2015 by Pacific Electric 4 Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

These 2 photos from different angles were taken on an over cast morning at 67th Street and Crenshaw Blvd. The date is Sunday, May 22, 1955, "the morning after the night before."

Rail service on LATL car lines 5-7-8-9-F and the northern end of the W line had ended in the early morning hours on this date. Officials of the LATL invited Civic leaders of Inglewood for a photo op to celebrate a "new era in transportation" for Inglewood by staging the "old and new" modes of transport for photos.

It was a massive abandonment of 5 profitable car lines.

LATL management would have probably preferred to keep the 5 cars line in operation and leave the dirty deed of killing off LA's city streetcar system to the forth coming LAMTA. But the construction of a one-mile stretch of the Harbor Freeway built OVER the rails of Grand Avenue between Jefferson and Santa Barbara Boulevards doomed the car lines. Grand Ave was used by the 5-F and 9 lines, but the loss of this track cut off access to Division 5 located at 54th St and Second Avenue.

It was the same dirty tactics that ended PE's Northern District when a one-mile stretch of Aliso Street was condemned for the Hollywood Freeway construction.

But the long-gone rail service is being vindicated all over greater Los Angeles.

Sixty years after these photos were taken, construction is now under way to return rail service to the EXACT location. The new METRO RAIL - CRENSHAW -LAX rail line will follow the route of the old 5 line for several miles in South West LA.

As a final note to history, after the abandonment of the 5 Line, business at the Chili Dog stand went to hell. Revenues of the penny scale out front of the stand also fell off drastically. The cars had stopped in front of the Chili Dog stand for decades, but the new bus stop was located one block south of the private right-of-way, leaving the Hot Dog stand high and dry.

Within a year, the stand, along with the once profitable penny scale, were history, the last dirty deed of the May 22, 1955 abandonment had been done!

Ralph Cantos Collection

Los Angeles Railway No. 3016: When Patriotism Rode the Rails

Posted on: January 25th, 2015 by Pacific Electric 2 Comments

 

 Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This very rare color photo of Los Angeles Railway PCC no. 3016 was taken in 1943 on West 6th Street near Westmoreland Avenue. The 3016 is eastbound on the rails of the 3 Line.

Throughout World War II, many US transit systems across the country painted both buses and streetcars in patriotic themes, with schemes promoting becoming a "trolley pilot" to buying War Bonds. World War II united this country like no other war before or since.

At least one other LARY PCC was painted in a war-themed paint job, that car being the 3010. While many other railway systems painted older relics in war-themed paint jobs, to my knowledge, no LARY "Standard" or H class cars were every given patriotic themed paint job. Only the modern progressive PCCs in LA enjoyed these special paint jobs.

The PE painted PCC no. 5000 in a very attractive blue paint job for the US Navy.

It is safe to say that we will never see ANY US transit vehicle painted up in such patriotic messages ever again. These days, hand painted messages on US transit vehicles have given way to "shrink wrap," advertising everything from "BIB MACK'S" to "Crunchy Tacos."

Ralph Cantos Collection

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

Los Angeles Transit Lines PCC no. 3029 is seen here working the 3 Line, stopped at 6th & Rampart Blvd. in the Spring of 1947. Trolley Bus overhead is up and bus stop signs are in place.

In just a few months, transit history will be made here in Los Angeles for the second time, and its nothing to be proud of.

The PCC-operated 3 Line will be replaced by trolley buses. The 3 Line will go down in history as the second PCC-operated rail line in the United States to give way to rubber tire transit.

The dubious distinction of abandoning the FIRST rail line with PCCs in America goes to our own beloved Pacific Electric, who "pulled the plug" on the East Broadway line in Glendale in 1946 (it had been PCC operated since 1941). August 3, 1947 would see the PCC-operated 3 Line change over to Trolley Bus operation, for better or worse. This abandonment represented a terrible blow to the esteem of the PCC in its bid to rescue rail lines across America.

Not long after the 3 Line fell to rubber-tired transit, the dignity of PCCs took another major hit when the PCCs of San Diego Electric Railway gave way to buses in one fell swoop in 1948. That dastardly deed was perpetrated by trolley hater Jessie L. Hough, who had purchased the San Diego Electric Railway just months before, wasting no time in dispatching the near-new PCCs into dead storage, to await sale to anyone smart enough to snap them up. That same SOB would scuttle the PCCs on the Glendale-Burbank a few years later.

The "RAILS TO RUBBER REVOLUTION" had begun and it was going to get ugly before things would get better a half-century later.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Pacific Electric No. 5011: LA’s PCC Wonderland

Posted on: December 8th, 2014 by Pacific Electric 6 Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

In the land of American traction, just four United States cities shared the distinction of having two different transit systems using the modern PCC. Those cities were Los Angeles, St. Louis, Cleveland and if you count the Red Arrow St. Louis Car Co.-built modified double end PCCs, Philadelphia.

Of those 4 operations, only in Los Angeles and St. Louis could the PCCs of 2 different systems be photographed in one scene.

In these two photos, the PCCs of the Illinois Terminal Railroad and the St. Louis Public Service are seen at the only place such photos could be taken. The other photo depicts the PCCs of PE and LATL on 7th Street in Downtown LA.

The photo of PE no. 5011 is truly remarkable for at least three reasons.

  1. Number 1: Here you have PCCs of different car builders. The 5011 was built by Pullman Standard and the LATL car was built by St. Louis Car Co.
  2. Number 2: The 5011 is standard gauge and the LATL PCC is narrow gauge.
  3. Number 3: The ONLY place in Los Angeles where this photo could be taken was on 7th Street between San Pedro St. and the entrance to PE's "6th Street Surface Yard" below and next to the Main St. elevated Station.

The 5011 was on a fan trip, and the LATL PCC is in regular service on either the R or J lines. No other place in America could such a photo be taken of two very different PCCs of two systems on the same street.

The PE PCCs would last just 15 years in service, while the LATL prewar car would enjoy 26 years of service before the entire LARY / LATL / LAMTA PCC system was scuttled in March of 1963.

As a note of interest to all PCC fans everywhere, the eight Illinois double-enders delivered in 1948 (and nearly identical to SF Muni's "Torpedos") would have the distinction of the shortest PCC service life. All 8 cars were retired in 1956 after just 8 years of service.

Of the 8 cars, two of them survive in trolley museums. The 2 museum cars were leasted from the Trolley Museum and returned to regular service for a few years on the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit. The 1700-class St. Louis Public Service PCC rolling along below the IT bridge would go on to have a long service career in such places as Tampico, Mexico, Cleveland's Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, San Francisco Muni. and to this day, one car, San Diego Trolley no. 529 still rolls along nearly 70 years after it was built in 1946.

I only wish that one of PE's PCCs — arguably the most beautiful PCCs ever built — could have been saved for preservation at OERM, but it was not to to be, and like the equally beautiful Butterfly 12s, they were lost to history...

Ralph Cantos Collection

Two Bells (LATL Employee Magazine) for March 1947

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Check out what it was like to work for the Los Angeles Transit Lines in March of 1947 with this employee magazine from the archive of Alan Weeks.

Click here to download

Alan Weeks Collection

LARY-LATL-LAMTA 3001: Destined for Immortality

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

Of the 165 PCCs that roamed the streets of Los Angeles, almost all of them served LA's transit system in obscurity.

But nine of the PCCs do stand out for one reason or another.

Car no. 3001, the first PCC delivered to the LARY, is pictured here in the fall of 1962 at Georgia Street. The thunder of the 3001 was stolen by no. 3002 by having Shirley Temple pose with it for the grand unveiling of the new streamliners. The 3002 would go on to fame as the "Crying PCC" decorated with crying eyes on it front dasher "GOODBYE OLD SWEET HEARTS and PALS!" plastered on it flanks as the end of LA's PCC era came to an end.

PCC no. 3035, the only LA PCC to be scrapped after a "run in" with a Santa Fe Diesel switcher outside Vernon Yard.

Car no. 3062, the so called "Guinea Pig P," was used to test various alterations to the standard LARY/LATL PCC design, most notably a single row of seats on the right hand side of the car's interior forward of the center door.

Car no. 3075 was the first PCC to be painted in LAMTA's two-tone green.

Car no. 3096 was the first of 30 "War Babies" to go into service in November of 1942. (The LARY wanted more than 30 PCCs, but because of war restrictions, was lucky to get the 30 P-2 class cars.)

All-Electric no. 3126 got all the press coverage upon its arrival in LA in September of 1948.

Car no. 3148 was the only LATL/LAMTA PCC to operate on the former Pacific Electric Long Beach Line using borrowed San Francisco Muni Standard gauge PCC trucks. (In my humble opinion, the experiment by the LAMTA using the 3148 was a total fraud, a white wash, by a corrupt management that did not give a DAMN about rail transit in LA.)

And last but not least, the no. 3165, the last new PCC delivered to the City of Angels.

The 3001 lives on today in all its splendor at OERM to the delight of thousands of visitors that ride aboard this legendary PCC for all eternity.

Of special interest: notice that both the 3001 and the 3063 display advertising cards for the "Ice Follies" at the historic Pan Pacific Auditorium. The Pan Pacific Auditorium would outlast LA's PCC system by about 9 years, closing its doors in 1972 with the opening of the LA Convention Center complex, ironically on the very site of this photo. The Pan Pacific burned to the ground about 1988.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Dewbert L. Bourland and Los Angeles Traction Company No. 86

Posted on: October 17th, 2014 by Pacific Electric 5 Comments

 

Guen Hodgson Sheets Collection

Guen Hodgson Sheets Collection

This absolutely stunning image was sent to us by Guen Hodgson Sheets, and here is her story:

Dewbert L. Bourland [conductor, standing on the steps] was my step great-grandfather and I know he worked for the Los Angeles Railway Co. in 1918. In this picture he looks much younger than 39 and is why I say it is early 1900s. At this time in his life he lived in Orange County.

We believe this image may actually date from the late 1890s, but we welcome any comments. And we graciously thank Guen for contributing this wonderful image to share with Los Angeles traction fans.

Guen Hodgson Sheets Collection

LARY Cars 2601 & 1450: A chance meeting 20 years before the fact!

Posted on: August 4th, 2014 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

THE CHANCE MEETING: This remarkabe photograph taken on July 21, 1940 during a Railroad Boosters Fan Trip can only be classified as "fantastic" from a rail fan point of view.

The location of this photo was LARY's Division 5 car house at 54th St and 2nd Ave. The #2601 was the fan trip car on this occasion. When the 2601 and its gang of rail fans pulled into the Division 5 yard tracks, there sat the 1450 being made ready for its regular assignment on the long 5 line. The 2 cars were posed side by side for what seemed like at the time, an ordinary photograph.

By the time of this 1940 photo, 95 St. Louis Car Co. PCCs were in service and a like number of worn out "Standards" had been retired to make room for the PCCs. The trolley preservation movement was still 15 years into the future; even though about 100 Standards had been scrapped, I don't think anyone that day gave any thought about the total demise of LARY's vast rail system and a fleet of almost 1000 streetcars.

THE FACT: Some 20 years later these same two cars would find their way to the Orange Empire Railway Museum. Who that 1940 day could have ever guessed that these same two cars would be "car house mates" in retirement? Of all the car barns in town, the 2601 rolled into Division 5 to meet up with the 1450. Unknowing at the time to all who witnessed this scene, it would be possible for generations of rail fans to come to take a photo of these two cars (sans the fenders) in 2014. ..Long live these two special cars.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Gary Starre Photo

Gary Starre Photo

LATL F Class No. 1165: Farewell Fan Trip

Posted on: July 7th, 2014 by Pacific Electric 4 Comments

 

 Roger Titus Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

Roger Titus Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This beautiful photo was taken by the then-16-year-old Roger Titus. The date of this Fan Trip was November 7, 1954, and the 1165 poses for the camera at Inglewood Cemetery.

All 16 F-Class 1100s, long a fixture of the busy 2-man V Line, had been in dead storage at Division 1 since September 1951 along with the remaining 500-class BF Standards and "odd-ball" cars 2601-02 and 2501.

The 1165 looked really good considering that it had been in storage for so many years. I am sure that the Division 1 Shop forces must have washed the 1165 for the fan trip.

By this late date, the upcoming massive May 22, 1955 rail abandonment was a known fact. Not only were the days numbered for the 1165, but also rail lines 5, 7, 8, 9, F and the northend of the W Line. Also on borrowed time were the bulk of the H-4s and all of the homebuilt K-4 class cars still in service at this time.

The May 22 abandonment would result in a massive "streetcar house-cleaning" of almost 275 well-maintained cars. LATL would never send "shabby" looking equipment to scrap. What would the management of National Metals & Steel think if a bunch of junk showed up at their front gate? LATL management did have some degree of pride.

And so it was, by the end of 1955, car 1165 along with its 14 of its sisters, 59 K-4s and about 140 H-4s would join over 100 BEAUTIFUL PE Hollywood cars that had arrived at Terminal Island for scrapping at about the same time.

Happily, there were some "escapees" to the terrible fate that awaited most of these nice cars. Three of the last BF Standards were saved: 521 going to Sea Shore Trolley Museum, 525 was saved by the SC-ERA and moved to temporary storage at Travel Town, and the 536 was donated to the "Children of LA" by LATL and put on permanent display also at Travel Town.

In addition, the SC-ERA saved F class car 1160, joining the 525. Also saved was K-4 1559 by the PRS. H-4 1201 was donated to the children of Inglewood and put on display in Centinela Park. Within just a few days of being placed in the Park, the unguarded 1201 was reduced to a "dangerous fire trap" by the grateful youth of Inglewood that all but scrapped it on the spot!!

The 1201 was saved and joined the 525, 1160, and 1559. Also being saved at this precarious time was the 2601 which also headed for the "safe harbor" of Travel Town. Sadly, the 2501 was lost, at least as a complete car. A few years after being sent to Terminal Island for scrapping, a few private individuals put up the funds and the body of the 2501 was rescued and moved to OERM. H-4 car 1318 went to a Trolley Museum in Oregan. Lastly, about 60 H-4s were lightly refurbished and sent the grateful people of Seoul, South Korea were they would continue to operate for almost two more decades.

Today, cars 525, 1160, 2601, and 1559 along with cars 1423 and 1450 survive in operating condition at OERM, thanks to the efforts of young rail fans so many years ago.

In the "What Goes Around, Comes Around Department" and "I told you so," the new LAMTA Crenshaw - LAX light rail line will operate on former AT&SF track directly across the street from where this photo was taken. The new line will parallel the old 5 Line for more than a mile at this point.

Ralph Cantos Collection

LATL 50 – the Kilroy Kar: Adding Insult to Injury

Posted on: June 19th, 2014 by Pacific Electric 3 Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

The management of Nasty City Lines NEVER missed an opportunity to ridicule or denigrate the staple of American urban transportation, the city streetcar . NCL's "Reign Of Terror" unleashed on streetcar systems across America was ruthless. NCL management would stage media events to showcase the retirement of dependable trolleys in favor of inferior, rubber-tired transport, in the most demeaning way possible.

In Oakland, California, the media was invited to watch as almost 100 Key System trolleys were set afire for all to enjoy (the sick bastards).

In Los Angeles, NCL shenanigans took on a different form. The 1947 retirement of the class "C" Sowbellies gave NCL management yet another chance to put down the cars that had faithfully served the City of LA for decades. Sowbelly #90 was painted up to announce the end of the U line. The unflattering graphics applied to the #90 "GOOD BYE-U-LOVEABLE-U" got the message across to all who saw it. (Click here to view this article and image.)

Still looking for yet another opportunity to have some fun at the expense of these dependable cars, LATL ran a contest on a local LA radio station. The winner of the contest, Mrs. H. Coffman of West LA, was presented with the winning prize, Sowbelly #50. Just what the HELL she was suppose to do with #50 was anyone guess, as the formation of the Orange Empire Trolley Museum was still a decade into the future.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

These two photos taken by ARROW STUDIOS photographer Arthur Petersen on a cold rainy day at South Park Shops document the handover. The #50 had been decorated with KILROY WAS HERE graphics, a phenomenon that swept over the USA , and indeed the world, during and after World War II. LATL Operations Manager B.M "Barney" (Buffoon) Lerrick was there to hand Mrs. Coffman the title to the #50.

After the crowds had dispersed, the #50, by now one of the last operable Sowbellies, was stripped of any useable parts and taken to the vast Vernon Yard. Once there, #50 joined #90 and more than 100 other Sowbellies to await scrapping.

The fun was over!

Ralph Cantos Collection