Los Angeles Railway

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

LARy 681 – Mayhem at the Movies

Posted on: June 2nd, 2014 by Pacific Electric 6 Comments

 

If you look closely at the window to the left of the motorman, the special effects people have drawn cracks in the window with some type of light-colored paint to make it look like it was damaged. Ralph Cantos Collection.

If you look closely at the window to the left of the motorman, the special effects people have drawn cracks in the window with some type of light-colored paint to make it look like it was damaged. Ralph Cantos Collection.

By Ralph Cantos

Its no secret that from about 1910 onward, Southern California's budding movie industry was very fond of LA's streetcars of both the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railways. PE's Hollywood cars and LARy's "Standards" were known the world over from their countless appearances on the big screen.

In this photo from taken from the 1930 2-reel Laurel & Hardy comedy "Hog Wild," yet another Ford Model T is done in by the special effects department of Hal Roach Studios. From the research that I have done, I place the location of the "accident" on Estrella Avenue just north of 23rd Street in the West Adams District.

Estrella Avenue was traveled by the U Line cars. Much of this neighborhood where this scene was staged, was bulldozed away many decades ago by the construction of the 110 Harbor Freeway. Estrella Avenue was shortened by several blocks with the completion of the freeway.

Car #681, a Type B-2 Standard built around 1911, would live a long, productive life. It was retired just after the sale of the LARy to National (NASTY) City Lines in 1946. The 681 fared much then the Model T Ford used for this scene. Today, sister car #665 lives on at OERM.

Scroll ahead to about 17:40 to see the scene depicted above in the still image.

A Tale of Two “Maggies”: LARY nos. 1 and 7

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

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This remarkable photograph from a Keystone Cops silent film made around 1918 shows Los Angeles Railway "Maggies" nos. 7 and 1 putting the "squeeze" on an early Model T Ford. Both cars shine under the production company lights.

Decades later, these very same two cars would figure into LARY history in dramatically different ways.

LARY owned about 45 "Maggies." Over the years, most of the short little cars were rebuilt and converted to larger cars of at least three different types, with all the work being done by the master woodworkers at the company's South Park Shops.

Several cars were converted to type B (Standard), type C (Sowbelly), and type F (Arch roof). By the 1930's, only 8 "Maggies" remained in their last recognizable configuration. These surviving Maggies were a fixture of the short but hilly I Line that ran out west 1st Street and Beverly Blvd, to Bonnie Brea Street where connections could be made to the D line.

Principal braking for the Maggies was a magnetic brake shoe located between the wheels on the other wise standard arch-bar truck. The "fatal flaw" with this usually dependable braking system was that if the trolley pole left the overhead wire ("de-wire-ment"), the brakes were not worth a damn, and the motorman would have to spring into quick action and wind up the hand brake. This flaw would manifest itself one afternoon in 1939.

The City Of Los Angeles was planning to reconfigure the tricky intersection of Glendale and Beverly Blvds. where 2nd Street joined the fray. A new massive viaduct would span Glendale Blvd. and 2nd Street, both streets hosting busy Pacific Electric rail lines. The new viaduct did not include the rails of the LARY I Line, because the I Line was scheduled for abandonment by the end of 1939.

One afternoon in the early months of 1939, Maggie #1 was in bound for the Downtown terminal at 1st and Hill Streets. As the eastbound #1 crested the last hill at Grand Avenue, for unknown reasons, #1's trolley pole left the wire. By the time the motorman realized what the HELL was going on, it was too late to wind up the hand brake and the long career of #1 came to a crashing end at 1st and Hill Streets.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

All the surviving Maggies were scheduled for retirement with the I Line abandonment, and so, as skilled at LARY shop men were in rebuilding such accident damage, the #1 was scrapped on the spot.

Years later in the early 1960s it was brought to the attention of OERM members that a streetcar body was uncovered in a house located in Barstow. The house was to be demolished. While inspecting the car body trapped in the confines of the doomed house, it was discovered that, lo and behold, there was old Maggie #7. The #7 was "rescued" and now awaits restoration at OERM.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

And so the two Maggies that came together for the Keystone Cops comedy would lead two very different, but noteworthy, lives.

MAGGIE EPILOGUE: LARY / LATL arch roof "type F" car #1160 rebuilt in 1923 from a Maggie, is preserved in operating condition at OERM.

UPDATE from Ralph: Here is LARY car #1031 at the end of the Edgeware Road line. The 1031 is on Douglass Street at Kensington Rd. The production crew and cameras for the Maggie shots was set up right where the 1031 sits in this 1946 Robert T. McVay photo. The apartments and craftsmen houses have change very little, if at all, in this historic zone.

Robert T. McVay Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

Robert T. McVay Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

LA’s Globe-Trotting Streetcars

Posted on: April 21st, 2014 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

As the old saying goes, "One man's junk is another man's treasure." In this case, the saying goes, "One city's junk is another city's treasure."

Sadly, this happened all to often in the postwar years across America, as city after city foolishly abandoned their efficient streetcar systems. Though in most cases, most of these systems were in need of rebuilding after years of heavy war demands. Cheap, inferior buses took the place of streetcars across America. Even the modern PCC was not immune to this insanity.

Retired LA streetcars found new homes in such faraway places as Buenos Aires, Veracruz, Cairo, and in this case, 61 former LARY / LATL streetcars destined for Seoul, Korea. The grateful people of war-torn Seoul welcomed the "new" cars without prejudice as to their age.

The saga of these 61 H-class cars began in the wee hours of May 22, 1955, when LATL abandoned car lines 5-7-8-9-F and the northern portion of the W line. In fairness to LATL, the City of LA and the Highway Department screwed the LATL by condemning a two-mile stretch of S. Grand Ave for the Harbor Freeway construction, in much the same way that the PE's Northern District was done in by the condemnation of Aliso St. in 1950.

With the massive abandonment, about 250 well-maintained streetcars of the H and K classes were surplus and doomed to the scrap pile. By the fall of 1955, the sale of these cars was finalized, and National Metals & Steel was set to start transporting the cars to Terminal Island for scrapping.

And then fate steeped in: 61 cars were selected to be sent to Seoul, Korea. In as much as National Metals now owned the cars, The company acted as a "middle man" with the US Government and LATL to prepare the cars for their new owners.

All 61 cars were in EXCELLENT condition and needed no mechanical work. The only real factor in the preparation was to enclose the open end sections of the cars. Windows were removed from the center sections of doomed cars, and installed onto the new "H-6" class cars. A easy repaint and the cars were ready for shipment. South Park Shops did all the work. Everyone in this deal was a winner, EXCEPT the citizens of LA that had to settle for cramped, stuffy GM buses, with "their smart new interiors."

In the first photos taken in early 1956 (above), "the Korea cars" cars are lined up at South Park Shops ready to depart for their new home. The second photo shows one of the cars operating in Seoul in 1967. The pampered life on the streets of Los Angeles was replaced by the harsh operating conditions of Seoul.

The cars soldered on into the late 1960s, even outlasting the modern PCCs they left behind in LA. No bus built in the 1950s, let alone built in 1922-23, could endure for very long under these demanding conditions. The H class cars were well built, and they certainly proved their worth in their last years of service.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

Los Angeles Icons: City Hall and the PCC

Posted on: April 9th, 2014 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

From 1953 until 1958, and for endless decades of reruns, Los Angeles City Hall was know to millions of people around the world as "The Daily Planet Building" in the fictional city of Metropolis.

Along with the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the US Capitol Building in Washington DC, LA City Hall is known the world over.

The Adventures of Superman was just one of many appearances LA City Hall has made on both the small and large screens. It was blown to pieces in the 1953 movie War Of The Worlds.

What better way to show off this iconic building in a tourist postcard then to have a "state of the art," world-class transit vehicle to pose front and center in the classic photographic composition?

Taken sometime around 1956, an unidentified LATL P-3 all-electric waits for the green light and its chance to accelerate away at a pace that will leave most of the autos in this setting, "in the dust." Unlike the LARY-ordered prewar PCCs that were "stripped to the bone" of available accessories such as rear marker lights, heaters, window shades, and crank window lifts, the LATL ordered P-3s were deluxe in every way. They were "fully loaded."

And so just moments after this photo was taken, the P-3 will dash off to the East end of the P-line and into history. Who would ever have believed at the time, that just 7 years later, an inferior, non-descript GM bus will dominate this very same location, and these Cadillacs of city rail transit will be sold off to a fourth-world country?

Ralph Cantos Collection

Two Los Angeles Icons

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by Pacific Electric 7 Comments

 

RC-LARY-PCCs-Broadway-9th-1938

By Ralph Cantos

Several great cities in North America, 27 of them to be exact, had one thing in common: state of the art city rail transportation - the PCC streetcar!

Los Angeles was the 4th city in America to join the "PCC PARADE OF PROGRESS" in March 1937. Always in the forefront of street railways latest developments, the Los Angeles Railway along with the City was very proud to be host to the "latest thing on rails." What better way to show off this new asset in urban transit, but to showcase a PCC on the main boulevard of this great city? From 1937 until the outbreak of World War II, many post cards, both black & white and color, always included a Los Angeles Railway PCC gliding up or down Broadway.

In this 1938 post card, a new LARY PCC rolls south bound on Broadway at 9th Street against the back drop of one of the most beautiful buildings in LA. The Eastern Columbia Department Store. Any person listening to a radio in LA during the 1940s-50s and early 60s will recall with fondness the jingle "Eastern Columbia, Broadway at Ninth." That slogan was right up there with "Coast Federal Savings, 9th and Hill on the ground floor."

LARY PCCs would be a part of the LA cityscape for 35 years. In later years, color postcards featured LATL P-3 all-electrics, showing the world that LA was still a high water mark in city transportation. All of LA's world class city rail transit came to an end, first in 1955 when MCL scuttled the Glendale — Burbank Line and its revolutionary MU PCCs — and later in 1963 with the premature retirement of the finest street railway system in America and its PCCs. From that sad day until the opening of the METRO BLUE LINE, LA was just another dusty hick town with hordes of buses providing inferior transportation to a traffic-choked city.

Ralph Cantos Collection

LAMTA 3028: A Barn Fresh Surprise!

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by Pacific Electric 3 Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

When the first LAMTA (Many Trolley Abandonments) seized control of LA's transit operations on March 3, 1958, the first major announcement to affect rail operations was that all rail cars numbered below numbers 2000 were doomed.

The Hollywood cars were quickly renumbered into the 1800s and the Blimps were renumbered into 15- and 1700 numbers. The LATL H class died with their 1400 number boots on.

LA rail fans were lulled into a false sense of euphoria when just one month after "the great merger of 1958," PCCs began to sport the MTA's two tone green paint. Car maintenance continued at high levels to the very end. Even the most optimistic rail fan, myself included, were foolish enough to think that LA's streetcar system, the best maintained in the United States, would be around for decades to come, yah- right.

At the end of September 1958, PCCs took over service on the S line and the H class cars, all in mint condition, were scrapped. Just before the conversion of the S line, there were about 10 air-electric PCCs in storage since 1956 at Division One. All 10 cars were pulled out of storage, run through the car washer, given a quick safety check and returned to service.

In this photo taken by me on the last day fan trip for the H class cars on September 21, 1958, with the #1387, we had just pulled into the J line terminal at Jefferson & 10th Ave. And there, much to my surprise and shock, was the "barn fresh" #3028 still sporting its LATL emblem, BUT even more of a surprise was that the 3028 still retained its factory front and rear streamline moldings and opening front windshield with 4 blade "horizontal- sweep" wipers.

The 3028 WAS THE VERY LAST LA PCC to have these factory items. The LATL had began a program to remove the moldings and seal the windshields back in 1954. Like any "rebuilding program," there is always the first car and the LAST car to be modified. The 3028 had been placed into storage before the two changes were performed. Being a PCC fan, I disapproved of both modifications, but who am I to judge. Anyway, there was the 3028 in all her original form. I took several photos for posterity.

The next time I saw the 3028, she was sporting the LAMTA "GOOSE EGG" logo and painted green. She remained in service to the end. And on March 31, 1963 , the finest fleet of PCCs in the USA made their last runs and place into dead storage to await sale . All the while, DECREPIT, poorly maintained PCCs continued to operate in such rust belt cities as St. Louis, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and Boston. Where is the justification?

Ralph Cantos Collection