Los Angeles Railway

3004 and 3059 on the P Line

Posted on: June 9, 2016 by Pacific Electric 12 Comments


Steve Crise Collection

Steve Crise Collection

This fascinating image from an unknown photographer is dated June 10, 1939 - nearly 77 years ago to the day! - but we are unsure of the exact location. The banner reading "Tony Sein" also indicates it denotes a Spanish-language radio station, and our guess is this is Hill Street downtown. Can you help? Please leave your thoughts in the comments, and when we receive a consensus, we'll modify this content.

Steve Crise Collection

UPDATE: From Ralph Cantos:

Re: the photo of 3004... Paul Kakaza is correct. the photo of the 3004 is at First & Main Sts. The PE cars operated on First St for just one block between Main and Los Angeles Sts. The PE tracks on San Pedro St crossed the P line tracks at First & San Pedro, but there was no turn outs. The PE cars turned north off of First St to Aliso St and the east. The tracks on San Pedro joined the PE tracks at Aliso St. and then headed over the LA River and on to the Northern District lines.. Sorry for the bad info. One last note. just about every building in that photo along east First St as far as the eye can see, are now gone. - Ralph

Thanks to all who have commented and nailed this location instantly! You are why we do this site!

LARy 881 at 2nd and Santa Fe

Posted on: May 6, 2016 by Pacific Electric No Comments


Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

On the subject of the very rare 9 line dash sign, here is Los Angeles Railway no. 881 sporting the very same colorful dash sign. The 881 awaits departure time in front of the old Santa Fe Railway station on Santa Fe Ave at 2nd Street. This image is from around 1938.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Jackie Hadnot Wood Carving for El Pueblo

Posted on: April 12, 2016 by Pacific Electric No Comments


SJC_JackieHadnot  088A

Pictured is a wood carving by artist Jackie Hadnot, who is known for his train and rail related wood-works and who was also featured on an episode with Huell Howser several years ago creating pieces he calls "Wooden Ironhorses." This unveiling took place on April 7, 2016, where is has been permanently installed in a window frame of the former Los Angeles Railway building at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, the back side of Olvera Street, at 611 Alameda Street, across from and facing Union Station. The wood purchase was made possible by a grant from Las Angelitas del Pueblo and Jackie donated his time and talents to render this project. There are three more window alcoves which, over time, could possibly have additional carvings, but, in the meantime, Jackie will be busy carving a new crucifix for Olvera Street.

Jackie Hadnot carved a piece for the Mount Lowe Preservation Society which was on display at the Pasadena Museum of History for the Pacific Electric Railway Then and Now show and we are proud supporters of Jackie's work, providing historical images and information to him to assist in his creations.

Pacific Electric Railway Then & Now Show Standee for the opening of the show on August 18th, 2012 Photo Credit: Steve Crise © Steve Crise 2012 310 963 9265 www.Scrise.com Scrise@aol.com

Pacific Electric Railway Then & Now Show Standee for the opening of the show on August 18th, 2012
Photo Credit: Steve Crise
© Steve Crise 2012
310 963 9265

LARy 893 and 1436: A Smash Hit on Broadway! (UPDATED)

Posted on: March 29, 2016 by Pacific Electric 9 Comments


Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

see below for update!

By Ralph Cantos

For the most part, both the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway were very safe rail systems. The PE operated at much higher speeds than the LARY, and as a result, produced some very spectacular accidents. The majority of the accidents on the PE occurred at grade crossings where just about every class of PE rail car, from the Echo Park 100s, PCCs, Hollywood cars, on up to the Blimps, were constantly challenged at grade crossings with automobiles driven by, for the most part, MORONS!

More often than not, the results were catastrophic damage to the automobile (and sometimes to its driver. as well). The PE car usually made it home under its own power to Torrance Shops for some brief R&R and a quick return to service. Other collisions that involved two or more PE rail cars were usually more dramatic and necessitated longer says at Torrance Shops.

The LARY, on the other hand, was a system where speeds rarely exceeded 40 mph. As a result, accidents were not as spectacular. Nonetheless, the LARY accident record could and did produce some amazing results.

Such an "incident" occurred one rainy night at the intersection of 2nd Street and Broadway during World War II. In this case, 9 Line car no. 893 was turning from westbound 2nd Street to southbound Broadway. For what ever reason, 5 Line car no. 1436 slid into the right side of the 893 amidships as the 893 was completing its left-hand turn. It was a rainy night, and with the exception of the PCCs, no LARY cars were equipped with windshield wipers (something that LATL management rectified on all H- and K-class cars after 1946).

One can only speculate that as the 1436 headed south on Broadway, its motorman cranking away on the Johnson Fare box, and the front windows blurred with rain, he did not see the red STOP sign displayed by the ACME traffic signal and ran into the side of 893 with the results depicted in this photo. Notice that the lights in the 893 ore still on, while the 1436 is dark.

Because of World War II passenger demands, every car was needed. Both cars were quickly returned to service.

The most noteworthy item in this photo is the front dash sign on the 893: it displays the entire route of the 9 Line as operated at that time. It reads: 9 West 48th St (48th & Crenshaw) via E. Third St-Traction- E. Second-Broadway (Central Business District) Pico-Grand Ave.-Santa Barbara and Hoover. According to LA traction historian and "dash sign GURU" Craig Rasmussen, if one of these dash signs still exists, and could be found, it would be the "HOLY GRAIL" of LARY dash signs. For now, all we can do is look at this photo and hope that one of these dash signs could still turn up at a traction swap meet. Do you have one in your collection??

Ralph Cantos Collection

April 12, 2016 Update!

Terry Salmans Photo/Collection

Terry Salmans Photo/Collection

By Terry Salmans

After reading Ralph Cantos' article "LARy 893 and 1436: A Smash Hit on Broadway" I called fellow Orange Empire Railway Museum archivist Pat Ellyson to see if he had seen one of the "Holy Grail" LARy 9 Line dash signs in the OERM collection. He replied that he hadn't but he had one in his own collection!

We arranged to meet up with another OERM archivist, Craig Rasmussen, for a photo op. Pat recalled that he had bought the dash sign years ago at a swap meet but couldn't recall from whom.

According to Pat, in November 1936 these dash signs were introduced for the 9 Line. On September 24, 1939 the 9 Line was rerouted and the dash sign in the photo wasn't used after that.

I've always wondered what a holy grail looked like. Now I know.

Terry Salmans Photo/Collection

LATL 1444: “Repurposed”

Posted on: February 2, 2016 by Pacific Electric 7 Comments


Ralph Cantos Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

When the first Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (Many Trolley Abandonments) assumed control of transit operations in the City Of Los Angeles, job number one was to begin planning for the eventual destruction of ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that operated on steel wheels.

The first order of business was to re-number the surviving ex-Pacific Electric Blimps and Hollywood cars from fleet numbers 300-400 and 5100 numbers respectively, into 1500-1700 and 1800 numbers. The plan was to scrap everything numbered below the 2000-class range (which were assigned to GM interurban buses at that time).

The LATL PCCs retained their 3001 to 3165 numbers, a false sense of optimism for LA railfans. The 34 H-3s and a handful of H-4s (numbers 1416-1450 and 12 & 1300s) then in service at the time of the "insurrection," were immediately consigned to scrap. H-class car no. 1448 had been retired some years earlier. Reverse loops were build at both ends of the S line for the replacement PCCs and by September 1958, all the H-class cars were gone. Scrap value of the H-class cars was about $250 as compared to $2500 for PE's beautiful PCCs that had been sold at about the same time. H-class cars 1423, 1435, and 1450 were saved and moved to OERM.

The 1444 headed for a different "situation." It wound up on a miniature golf course at 190th and Figueroa Streets.

The new owners stripped the interior of the 1444 of all seats and sadly, the two bulkheads, all done to make room for a bank of several pinball machines. The removal of the bulkheads severly compromised the structural integrity of the 1444 and her condition began a slow but steady decline.

The golf course closed after about six years of operation. The 1444 had deteriorated to a point of no return. OERM members removed anything of value from the now-hopeless 1444 and what was left of her was "hauled off to the dump" by its owners. The 1444 would join its sisters in trolley heaven.

I took this photo with my little KODAK 620 box camera in 1961. She was still in decent shape, but the coming years would not be kind to the 1444 and her came slowly but surely.

Ralph Cantos Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

Video: Los Angeles in the 1920s

Posted on: January 25, 2016 by Pacific Electric No Comments


Here's a vintage promotional film by Ford Motor Company documenting Los Angeles in the 1920s. Lots of action and a great perspective into how wonderful Los Angeles was as a young city in the first part of last century.

LARy and PE Cars on Main Street, 1926: Not A Bus In Sight

Posted on: January 14, 2016 by Pacific Electric No Comments


Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This remarkable photograph taken from high atop the Pacific Electric building looks down on Main Street at 6th. A mix of southbound Los Angeles Railway (LARy) and PE cars stretch as far as the camera can see. Even though both the LARY and PE operated primitive, gasoline-powered buses of marginal size and construction at this time, most if not all important lines were operated by streetcars of the LARY and sizable interurbans of the PE.

What buses there were, usually held down runs on the "outskirts" of the City. Very few, IF ANY, bus lines operated into the Central Business District of Los Angeles.

What railfans there may have been in 1926 must have looked at this photograph with great pride and optimism. All those optimistic railfans looked to the future with great hopes for an everlasting dominance of rail transportation in Los Angeles, if not the entire USA.

But in the coming decades, circumstances and events would alter the hopes and dreams of even the most optimistic proponents of big city rail transportation. Ever-improving automobiles and technical improvements to the motorbus would bring the future of rail transit to the crisis point.

Ten years after this photo was taken, the modern, revolutionary PCC streetcar design would make its debut on the city streets of "big city America." In the coming three decades, an army of 5000 PCCs would fight a losing battle to the finish with millions of private automobiles and hordes of buses being built by several manufacturers that were "cashing in" on the misguided investment of "flexible" bus routes and ever-expanding highway and freeway construction. This epic battle of rail vs. rubber could be equated with the "Battle of the Alamo." PCCs slowed, but could not stop, the onslaught of trolley-to-bus conversions taking place across this country.

By 1956, a photograph taken from the top floors of the PE building would be shocking. Trolley and interurban rail transportation had vanished from Main Street and buses dominated the thoroughfare. Not even the rails remained. PE's once-vast Southern District struggled for its very existence, with Metropolitan Coach Lines hell-bent on its total destruction.

By 1957, only 5 former LARY car lines remained, and in less than a decade, they too were gone. The battle had been hard fought, but was lost to ignorance and greed. The pleasant memories of streetcars were all that LA commuters could hold on to, until the opening of the Metro Blue line in 1989.

Since then, rail transportation has made a slow but steady return to the landscape of Los Angeles and surrounding suburbs, at a cost of unimaginable hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars to restore what was once a common sight in Los Angeles. As of 2016, half-century-old PCCs still provide nostalgic, dependable transportation in a few select US cities that were smart enough to keep them operating, or restore them back to service.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Downtown Los Angeles in 1948: A Broadway Trolley Melody

Posted on: December 26, 2015 by Pacific Electric 5 Comments


Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This beautiful photo taken from atop the LARY-LATL building shows so well the dominance of streetcar transport that was once so prominent in Los Angeles. Here, looking north on Broadway at Broadway Place and Olympic Boulevard is a traction fan's "Trolley Paradise."

As a very young trolley fan, I would spend hours on end at 7th and Broadway watching the never-ending parade of LATL streetcars crossing the well-worn diamond at that fantastic intersection. The friendly, beautiful sounds of trolley bells echoed off the tall buildings. Not a harsh BEEP-BEEP of a GM bus could be heard at this wonderful place. I particularly loved the sounds as 2 or more heavy H-4s crossed the diamond in opposite directions; it was "industrial music" at its best. No sooner had an H-4 crossed, than a PCC would "tip toe" across the diamond with half the sound of the preceding H-4.

I was only 12 years old in 1955 and my only knowledge of the coming and goings of LA's wonderful traction system is from what I saw with my transfixed eyes. It was therefore a traumatic shock to my young life when I went Downtown in the late days of May 1955. I could not comprehend what had happened to all the LATL streetcars that had dominated not only Broadway but Spring and Main Streets as well. I was actually short of breath as I witnessed buses in the Union Station Station Loop from the window as my #2 Trolley Coach emerged from the tunnel under the station tracks.

Even worse, the sight of buses on Main, Spring and Broadway was almost unbearable to me. As I staked out my spot at 7th & Broadway, some of my anxiety faded away as all seemed normal on 7th Street — R-S & J cars still rolled up and down the street with no buses in sight.

But Broadway was a different story.

Gone were the 5 and 9 cars. Now the 5 line was operated with GM buses. The 9 line was gone for good. It was with some relief when I saw W and P cars still rolling up and down Broadway. I did not know it at the time, but the days were numbered for the W line and soon, the P cars would be the only streetcars on Broadway.

Eight years later the wonderful sound of trolley bells echoing of the Downtown buildings would give way to the blasting sounds of hordes of Diesel buses that replaced LA's beloved streetcars. The charm of Downtown and indeed, LA itself, was gone as far as I was concerned.

If you want to see and HEAR the CHARM that streetcars bring to a city, just head to San Francisco and stake out a spot on Market Street and you will see and HEAR for yourself what LA lost so many years ago...

Ralph Cantos Collection

LARy 1387: A Familiar Sight at 7th and Broadway

Posted on: December 18, 2015 by Pacific Electric 3 Comments


Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This beautiful photo taken around 1942 shows LARY 1387 hitting the diamond at 7th & Broadway. Like Pacific Electric Hollywood car no. 717, the 1387 always seemed to be in front of the camera. It’s too bad that it was not saved for preservation at OERM as many Los Angeles traction fans have pleasant memories riding aboard her, both on fan trips and in regular service, myself among them.

Ralph Cantos Collection

“Your Traffic Officer” (1946) Video

Posted on: December 4, 2015 by Pacific Electric 6 Comments


Here's an amazing training video produced probably by the Los Angeles Police Department traffic division, from 1946, showing downtown Los Angeles in the immediate postwar period. LATL PCCs, Pacific Electric cars, and much more! WOW!