Los Angeles Railway

LAMTA 3137 and 3143: On the Road to Oblivion

Posted on: November 19, 2016 by Pacific Electric 2 Comments

 

Jerry Squire Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

Jerry Squire Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

By Ralph Cantos

All-electric PCCs nos. 3137 and 3143 were photographed by the late Jerry Squire; this image is courtesy the Andy Goddard collection. The two-truck caravan is pictured here on Alameda Street. Soon the cars will arrive at the LA Harbor where they and over 100 of their sister PCCs will be loaded aboard ships that will take them to faraway Cairo, Egypt and a life of horror.

LA's 40 all-electrics were the "Cadillacs" of LA's narrow gauge street railway system. Fast, smooth, and quiet were just some of the wonderful features of the cars. The postwar PCCs built by St. Louis Car Co. and Pullman Standard were the apex of city street railway transportation across this country. And yet, here we see two of LA's finest, headed to a life in a third world city. Retired after just 15 years of splendid and reliable service, there just does not seem to be any rational explanation for this act of urban vandalism.

I was a regular commuter of LA's PCCs for several years, right up to the day of abandonment. To the credit of the LAMTA, that I despised, the cars were were all maintained in excellent, impeccable condition to the very end. The abandonment made no sense to me, and I made my very vocal and caustic views on the matter known to the LA Times, Mayor Yorty, George Putnam (the "Paul Harvey" of Los Angeles, for those not from here), and anyone else that would listen, much to the irritation of LAMTA Special Agents who made repeated visits to my house.

Indeed, LAMTA officials made verbal threats to "cease and desist"....."OR ELSE." In the end, it was all for nothing. The LAMTA did not have to answer to anyone, they did as they pleased. And so LA's PCC system, with DECADES of service life remaining, was sacrificed on the altar of "progress."

I rode the "New #26 Pico Bus line" on the first week day of the "Silverliner" bus service with its "improved curb service." The level of comfort was an inferior, appalling experience, to say the least. After just one week of this "new and improved service," I said to HELL with LA's public transit and like millions of other Angelenos, started driving to school (LA Trade Tech) and later in the day, to work. In the months that followed, I watched through the windshield of my car as all traces of the PCC system that I so revered, disappeared before my eyes.

It was not until the opening of the Long Beach Blue Blue Line in July of 1990, that I returned to LA's public transit system. And speaking of that fiasco, if anyone had paid any attention to me and the 8000 Long Beach line commuters that signed my petitions back in 1960, taxpayers could have saved $700 million to reinstate something that was already there. A bunch of damn fools running this city at that time....

Jerry Squire Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

LAMTA 3148 at Watts: A fish out of water!

Posted on: November 3, 2016 by Pacific Electric 3 Comments

 

Jerry Squire Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

Jerry Squire Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This photo, taken by the late Jerry Squire, is from the Andy Goddard mega-collection. PCC 3148, St. Louis Car Co. class of 1948, rolls south at Watts in the early evening haze. It's February 1960 and the LAMTA is in the midst of "test runs" using PCC 3148 hijacked from the very busy P line. The 3148 is riding on borrowed San Francisco Muni standard gauge B-3 trucks taken from their car no. 1024. The tests were being run to evaluate the possibility of continuing rail operation on the historic Long Beach Line. I have to admit, that even I, who was most critical of LAMTA, was really excited about these test runs. And as the late great Paul Harvey would often say, "The view out of the rear view mirror is a lot clearer than the view through the front windshield."

He was indeed correct.

The LAMTA had everyone, myself included, "bamboozled" into believing that they really wanted to keep passenger service to Long Beach "a RAIL LINE." As for me, I was convinced from day one that the LAMTA was nothing more than Metropolitan Coach Lines with a new name. Even the MCL two-tone green paint scheme was retained. There was no way in HELL that the LAMTA was going to keep using rail equipment of any kind to Long Beach. There were no used PCCs to be had at the time. Toronto and Mexico City had snapped up just about every last available used PCC in the America, with Tampico picking up the crumbs that were left. And even if there were used PCCs available, that would have meant costly modifications to the 6th & Main Street elevated station where a reverse loop would have to be constructed.

And of course there was the twenty miles of SP-owned roadbed that would have to be completely rebuilt to accommodate the PCC's temperamental riding qualities. In reality, the LAMTA wanted out of 6th & Main, and anything and EVERYTHING else that ran on rails and was powered by electricity.

When the "BS" test runs were completed, the standard gauge trucks were returned to the MUNI and the 3148 went back to work on the P line, the busiest surface rail line in the US. About a year after the test runs were completed, hundreds of railfans, many from across the country, made the last run on the Long Beach Line, and like myself, with tears in their eyes.

The next order of business on the LAMTA agenda: wipe out and destroy the well-liked and profitable PCC operated R-S-J-V and P rail lines , and the LAMTA would stop at nothing until that dirty, dastardly deed was completed. Again quoiting Paul Harvey, "And now you know the rest of the story."

Jerry Squire Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

LAMTA 3025 at City College: Part 2

Posted on: October 19, 2016 by Pacific Electric 2 Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This photo looking east on East First Street at the LA Civic Center dramatically illustrates the speed and determination the LAMTA employed in the swift elimination of LA's perfect PCC-operated rail system. Once the P line, this nation's busiest surface streetcar line, operated along East First Street. Now, just weeks after abandonment, the excellent rails are paved over. The LARY-LATL overhead wires, renowned in the industry for their excellence, remain as a ghostly reminder of P cars past.

The LAMTA even went to to the trouble of removing the familiar white "CAR STOP" sign from the span wires as the rails were paved over. Perhaps the LAMTA thought some uninformed Angelino would wait in vain for a P car if the "CAR STOP" sign was still displayed above the rail-less street.

Most all Angelenos loved the fast, silent, smooth PCCs that took them to work and play. The shiny new replacement buses were no improvement in comfort or service on any of the former PCC-operated lines. It was a shameful downgrade in service levels, and everyone that rode the PCCs were very aware of it. But the LAMTA and LA City officials did not give a damn, they had bigger plans for the area around Pico Blvd. and Georgia St. The beautiful PCCs just happened to be in the way of a progressive Los Angeles, and the former rail commuters would pay dearly for it.

Ralph Cantos Collection

 

Jerry Squire Photos, Andy Goddard Collection

Jerry Squire Photos, Andy Goddard Collection

By Ralph Cantos

These two photos taken by the late Jerry Squire are from the Andy Goddard Collection. On the left, LAMTA no. 3025 takes spot time on the New Hampshire Avenue leg of the City College "Y." January, February and March of 1963 was a very rainy period as LA's immaculate PCC system faced imminent destruction. Even as the PCCs had only weeks of service life remaining before abandonment, repairs to the canvas center section of the air cars' roof and windshield wiper maintenance continued at a high level as the cars faced extinction.

The photo on the right taken in March of 1973 shows SCRTD GM New Look coach no. 5467 (class of 1961) on the same spot where the photo of 3025 was taken just ten years before. The remnants of the reverse "Y" are clearly visible. The 5467 was photographed while on a bus fan charter celebrating the ten year anniversary victory of rubber over rail transit in LA.

After the abandonment of LA's PCC system, the car tracks were hastily paved over to insure the PCCs would never return to the streets of LA. A large portion of the rail system was quickly paved over even before the overhead wires could be removed, an action that had never been seen before in the history of streetcar abandonments in LA.

The abandonment of LA's PCCs was not very popular with the thousands of daily commuters the rode the fast, smooth PCCs. In years past, the abandoned rails remained untouched, sometimes for several years after the last trolley passed over said rails, and where the overhead wires had once hung above the rails, long gone.

The LAMTA made sure the PCCs would never return, come HELL or high water.

Jerry Squire Photos, Andy Goddard Collection

LAMTA 3075, LA’s First Green PCC: A False Sense of Optimism

Posted on: September 26, 2016 by Pacific Electric 6 Comments

 

Jerry Squire Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

Jerry Squire Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This photo taken by the late Jerry Squire in 1965 is from the Andy Goddard collection, and shows LAMTA no. 3075 at Vernon Yard being made ready for its trip to LA Harbor. From there, it's off to faraway Chile to be used as de-motorized, locomotive-hauled trailers. Twenty-two air cars were sold to the CHILE NITRATE CO. Two cars were stripped for parts at Vernon Yard, the remaining twenty cars sold whole. Cairo purchased the remaining 134 cars shortly after the Chile deal was completed.

The 3075 was the first LA PCC to be released from South Park Shops in April 1958 in the new green MTA scheme. The car had a complete rebuild and repainting much to the delight of LA rail fans. It was hoped by all who saw the 3075 for the first time that she was now ready for several more decades of service on the streets of Los Angeles. Alas, it was not to be.
Just five years after making its debut in its new two-tone green paint job, the 3075 and 163 of her sisters would be retired and placed in dead storage at Vernon Yard to await an uncertain future.

By the end of 1965, Vernon Yard was devoid of all the PCCs. They had all departed for a much less glamorous life in either Chile or Cairo. Both systems trashed the once-pristine cars. In less than 10 years, the Chile cars were reduced to employee housing at the company's nitrate mine operation. The cars that made it to Egypt were reduced to rolling wrecks in about the same amount of time.

Four cars, numbers 3001, 3072, 3100 and 3165 live on in retirement at OERM, while 3101 now resides in Colorado at a railroad museum there. The big, beautiful "all-electrics" served the commuters of Los Angeles for just 15 years, a damn shame to say the least.

Jerry Squire Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

3137 on Broadway at 7th Street

Posted on: September 8, 2016 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Photographer unknown, Steve Crise Collection

Photographer unknown, Steve Crise Collection

Los Angeles MTA PCC no. 3137 rolls southbound on Broadway at 7th Street on the P Line. The date is February 1961. MTA bus no. 69143 follows closely behind.

Photographer unknown, Steve Crise Collection

LA 1:87 Short Film

Posted on: August 12, 2016 by Pacific Electric 3 Comments

 

Here's a wonderful short film by Matthew Arnold-Ladensack entitled "LA 1:87" and featuring the fine HO scale modeling of iconic LA landmarks by 81-year-old Gerald W. Cox.

LA // 1:87 from Humanity Pictures on Vimeo.

Mystery / Political “Bus Transfer”

Posted on: August 7, 2016 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

 Charles Wherry Collection

Charles Wherry Collection

 Charles Wherry Collection

Charles Wherry Collection

By Charles Wherry

In going through some of my father's collection, I found this interesting "bus transfer" and thought it should see the light of day.

Here are two (front and back) scans of what appear to be an effort to defeat ballot proposition No. 1 on the December 12, 1940, election in Los Angeles. Although there is no specific mention of Los Angeles, or the year, the fact that the 1940 UCLA football schedule is printed on the face leads me to this conclusion.

It is in a transfer format similar to that used by the Pacific Electric and I believe other transit companies of the time.

It was printed for a group calling themselves ‘Citizens Committee against “Phoney” Legislation”. The oversize dimension of 12” X 4 1/4” was apparently meant to emphasize this group’s alarm over what they believed was an effort by bus companies, (no mention of which company(ies), to create a ..."universal" transfer system in Los Angeles. There is an allusion ..."three bright boys"... and some names, possibly corrupted, of ...."Quinsy, Kreaking, Dilly"... .

What the results of the election were, if in fact there was an election, remain a mystery to me. Hopefully there are others that that can fill in the gaps.

Charles Wherry Collection

Los Angeles Railway 1941 Passes

Posted on: August 7, 2016 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Charles Wherry Collection

Charles Wherry Collection

Charles Wherry Collection

Charles Wherry Collection

By Charles Wherry

Here are two weekly passes issued by Los Angeles Railway in 1941. The $1.25 price seems quite a bargain especially when reading the fine print which allowed two children under 12 to ride along with the bearer on Sundays and holidays which included Armistice Day, now called Veterans Day.

Charles Wherry Collection

LARY 1444 : Green luxury on the streets of LA

Posted on: July 4, 2016 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This 1930 view, taken at the old Division 2 just across the street from South Park Shops, nicely illustrates the new look for 35 of the Los Angeles Railway's newest steel passenger cars. Cars 1416 to 1450 were upgraded from H-4 to H-3 "DELUXE" status in 1929-1930. The most obvious element of the upgrade was a striking new pastel green and cream paint scheme, with silver roof, a dramatic departure form the then-standard yellow and brown paint scheme of the LARY.

Other improvements to the 35 cars consisted of enhanced interior lighting installed in a new smooth head liner, new upholstered seats, and enclosing the entire car body with brass window sashes. All these expenditures were made by the LARY so as to be granted a fare increase of about 2 CENTS by the Public Utilities Commission.

About two years after going into service one last improvement was made to the H-3s in the form of the HUNTER ROLL sign box inset into the roof above the right front window, replacing the standard roof slat number box used on all LARY cars up to that time. In time, several H-4 cars in the 1200 class (OERM's 1201 being the first H-4 to get the HUNTER ROLL sign box) and a few 1300s also got the HUNTER ROLL sign box. A nice improvement to the cars and especially for the poor LARY shop man who had to climb up the side of the cars to change the line number or letter slat on the roof box. (Something I would not look forward to doing.)

One other item of interest in this photo is that the 1444 is equipped with the standard "high eclipse fender" that was used to clear the MU coupler. When all MU operation was discontinued on the LARY, a low fender replaced the high fenders, much to the pleasure of LARY crews. The GREEN cars operating mostly on the long 5 Line lasted only about 4 or 5 years. By 1936, they were but a distant memory.

The 35 H-3s along with a handful of open H-4s lasted until late 1958, rendering thirty-five years of faithful, dependable service to the LARY, LATL and for about six months, the LAMTA. A job well done.

Ralph Cantos Collection