Pacific Electric

Pacific Electric and World War II Hysteria

Posted on: June 2, 2017 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This 1942 photo taken at the Santa Anita Racetrack's "horse car spur" shows Pacific Electric cars nos. 1370, 1226, and 1237. The train had just arrived from 6th and Main Street Station. Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order no. 9066 in February.

When that order was sighed, thousands of Japanese Americans were "rounded up" along the West Coast of California. Many of them were taken to PE's 6th and Main Street Station where they boarded 3-car trains for a short trip to the Santa Anita Racetrack. At the track, temporary shelter was provided until they could be registered and identified. From here, they boarded an armada of buses — the majority, PE WHITE Motors model 798s — for the long trip to the Manzanar relocation camp to sit out the remainder of World War II.

The use of PE interurbans and buses for this purpose, was not one of the finest moments in PE's 50-year history. But World War II did provide the PE with some of its finest hours in that same 50-year history. Southern California would have been up the proverbial "creek without a paddle" had it not been for the PE and LARY's vast rail and bus system.

It was public transit's finest hour, never to be repeated after the war ended.

Ralph Cantos Collection

February 24, 1957: 5166 and 313 at Socorro

Posted on: May 22, 2017 by Pacific Electric 5 Comments

 

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

A southbound excursion group (with a three-car train of 5050-series cars, headed up by 5166) waiting at Socorro for the northbound train to clear the single track.

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

February 24, 1957: Excursion Passengers

Posted on: May 22, 2017 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

The date is February 24, 1957. Excursion passengers wait at Bellflower station watch the arrival of the regular train from Los Angeles.

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

May 23, 1958: Three-Car Train at Lynwood Station

Posted on: May 22, 2017 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

A three-car train at Lynwood Station on the Bellflower Line, May 23, 1958, the last weekday rush hour service. The prior day to this photography, the Hancock refinery near Signal Hill caught fire and the thick, dark smoke spread north for a day or two - as reflected in this picture.

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

May 23, 1958: Last Weekday Rush Hour at Watts

Posted on: May 22, 2017 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

Three-car train at Watts switches onto the Bellflower line, May 23, 1958, the last weekday rush hour service prior to abandonment of passenger service on this line.

Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection

5181 at Universal City

Posted on: May 10, 2017 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Fred V. DuBritz Photo, Michael Patris Collection

A very austere Universal City stop is seen in this October 11, 1952 shot. This stop was located at the Lankershim Boulevard overpass near the world-famous studio and has since been absorbed into the US 101 Hollywood Freeway.

Fred V. DuBritz Photo, Steve Crise Collection

1299 on a Fan Trip

Posted on: May 10, 2017 by Pacific Electric 2 Comments

 

Fred V. DuBritz Photo, Michael Patris Collection

Looking north on Van Nuys Boulevard from Gault Street, PE 1299, their official business car, is preforming duty on what appears to be a fan trip. This Fred V. DuBritz photo was taken on May 3rd 1952. Note the incorrect destination roller sign reading “San Bernardino”. Displaying incorrect destination signs was a favorite trick of railfans to confuse unsuspecting travelers.

Fred V. DuBritz Photo, Michael Patris Collection

Pacific Electric 614: Spotlight on a Future Icon

Posted on: April 18, 2017 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This full-page ad from the St. Louis Car Co. dates from about 1928-29. The photo shows Pacific Electric no. 614 and train just after emerging from the Hill Street tunnel no. 1 at 1st and Hill Streets in Downtown Los Angeles. The photo was probably taken around 1924.

The text reports that the PE now has 160 of these versatile suburban cars in service at the time the ad was printed. Actually, the St Louis Car Co. did not build all of the reported 160 cars. The 160 cars were built in 4 orders:

1. Cars 600 to 649 — St Louis Car Co. 1922
2. Cars 650 to 699 — St. Louis Car Co. 1924
3. Cars 700 to 749 — J.G Brill 1925
4. The last 10 cars, 750-759 — St. Louis Car Co. 1928

No matter, all 160 cars were equal in all performance respects. The cars were fast accelerating, and could reach their astonishing top speed of 28 mph in short order.

Minor improvements were made on the last 3 orders. The 10 "750's" were by far the best of the lot. The last ten cars had two major improvements, those being: roller bearing on all axles, and to me, the most important...brass window sashes. I remember riding the dilapidated Hollywood cars on the Watts line in their final years. Years of neglect by Metropolitan Coach Lines and the MTA had taken a terrible toll on these last valiant veterans. The wood window sash on the last survivors were lacking in red paint which left the exposed wood window sash subject to swelling after rains. The windows were almost imposible to open for several days after it rained. It was minor problem, as it never rains in Soouthern California. The Timken Roller bearings were replaced by standard friction bearings when the cars went through Torrance Shops as time passed.

Today, the spot where this photo was taken is unrecognizable. Everything is gone, and the Stanley Mosk Courthouse has replaced the background in the old photo. Out at OERM, 5 Hollywood cars have been saved, representing 3 of the 4 orders. The Hollywood cars would become legendary in the decades after their construction. The Pacific Electric contently got their money's worth from these fine cars.

Ralph Cantos Collection

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

From their 1936 introduction until the end of 1939, almost 900 air-electric PCCs had been built and delivered to several US cities. While St. Louis Car Co. built the majority of the cars, Pullman Standard did manage to land a few orders. Until the end of 1939, all 900 cars were nearly identical. There were some minor differences in length, one- or two-piece head signs, the deletion or addition of rear marker lights and head light wings, lift or crank windows, and so on. But by in large, the cars were all the same. Then came 1940!

In early 1940, the St. Louis Public Service took delivery of 100 "all-electric" PCCs, six years before this equipment would become almost standard equipment on post-War PCCs. There were some postwar exceptions, but all-electric operation was almost standard unless otherwise ordered by the purchasing transit system.

The St Louis Public Service 1500s (nos. 1500 to 1599) had several new features such as a deeply slanted front windshield, new "super-resilient" wheels, built-in, factory-installed rear round marker lights (as opposed to the "PEP BOYS "tear drop" truck markers), and the longer trolley base shroud with air intake.

The new unproven all-electric 1500s, as beautiful as they were, proved to be very troublesome cars. Retirement of these handsome cars came early and by 1954, they were all scrapped save for 50 cars that had been pawned off to Philadelphia Transportation Co., and there too, all were gone by 1955.

Then came PE's revolutionary Pullman Standar-built MU-double-enders. They entered service in November of 1940. The PE PCCs were a sensation at the time. Trade publications gave the 30 cars full page coverage, like the one pictured above. I believe it is from RAILWAY AGE. Regardless, this was the beginning of "PCCs built to order." The first 25 all-electric postwar PCCs ordered by Louisville Railways looked nothing like the hundreds of standard "off the shelf" PCCs that were to follow such as LA's P-3s.

The service life of PE's beautiful PCCs fell victim to the "rails to rubber" hysteria that befell this country in the 1950s and after just 15 years of splendid operation, they were out of service.


This is St. Louis Public Service car no. 1515 just after entering service in 1941. Notice the new wheels, trolley shroud, and recessed windshield, features that would become standard on postwar PCCs six years later. It was also one of the first to sport a full width anti-climber.

Ralph Cantos Collection

PE 913: Forever Part of the Formosa Cafe

Posted on: January 16, 2017 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

PE 913 outbound at Culver Junction, 1940. Harold F. Stewart Photo, Craig A. Rasmussen Collection

Editor's Note: News upon the sudden closure of the West Hollywood architectural icon Formosa Cafe, whose exterior features former Pacific Electric car no. 913, prompted transit historian and frequent PERHYS contributor Ralph Cantos to pass along this image and information.

By Ralph Cantos

There is only one PE car at the Formosa Café, and it’s the 913, part of it anyway. It was one of the last 800s still in service when this photo was taken, but the end was near. By the end of 1940, they were all gone, except for the four 800s that were made into box motors: cars 1495 to 1498. They lasted until about 1950. The trucks from the 1498 are out at OERM, and the 913 could be restored. That would be fantastic.

Harold F. Stewart Photo, Craig A. Rasmussen Collection