Southern District

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

PE/MCL 5124 at 6th and Main: Midnight at the Oasis

Posted on: October 23, 2016 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This tranquil 1956 photo at 6th & Main Street Station, once the hub of Pacific Electric's comprehensive Northern and Southern District rail operations, belies the dire conditions of the Southern District and at this point, it was getting worse by the month.

Car no. 5124 prepares to depart on one of the last late-night runs along the 7-mile route to Watts. Anti-rail, pro-bus Metropolitan Coach Lines management had managed to destroy the Western District rail operations in less than two years after purchasing PE's passenger service. The wonderful Subway Terminal tunnel was now a tomb for the worlds most beautiful PCCs , left unguarded to rot and endure horrible damage by sick vandals.

The four Southern District lines were now operating under the most deplorable conditions. The elevated terminal was now a rail island in a sea of green MCL buses. About 45 Blimps and 15 Hollywood cars were now on an RFT (run till failure) status. Except for replacement of broken windows, all cosmetic maintenance on the cars ceased the day Metro Coach Lines took over the rail operations. Only minor mechanical repairs on the cars were made under primitive , open-air conditions at Fairbanks Yard, using "arm strong" tools.

The loyal passengers of the Southern District (myself included ) endured filthy and unkempt cars. All the while, MCL management continued to request the complete abandonment of the rail system to the PUC, to no avail. That dirty deed was left to the LAMTA. The Southern District rail line did not stand a chance for survival, as the new LAMTA did not have to answer to the PUC or anyone else for that matter. The Southern District along with the 6th & Main Street Station were now doomed.

By the time the Watts line was abandoned, only one extra car was available to meet basic rush hour service requirements. Four unserviceable Hollywood cars, stripped of usable parts, sat in the weeds at Fairbanks yard. Finally in April of 1961, only about 30 or so operable Blimps, now in disgraceful condition, were still serviceable. Only one car (1543) received a new coat of paint, the first new paint since the big car left Torrance Shops back in 1947. The rest of the Blimps died with their RED PE boots on.

Ralph Cantos Collection

1538 on East Olympic Boulevard at Ceres Avenue

Posted on: September 8, 2016 by Pacific Electric 3 Comments

 

Photographer unknown, Steve Crise Collection

Photographer unknown, Steve Crise Collection

Los Angeles MTA blimp no. 1538 is photographed heading eastbound on East Olympic Boulevard at Ceres Avenue in February of 1961. Dash signs reads Long Beach, with connections for Wilmington San Pedro.

Photographer unknown, Steve Crise Collection

PE’s Butterfly 12s: The Magnificent Six

Posted on: August 2, 2016 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Craig Rasmussen Collection

Craig Rasmussen Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This 8x10 photograph from the Craig Rasmussen collection shows "Butterfly 12" no. 1221 rolling along towards San Pedro Station on March 5, 1948. In as much as the Butterfly 12s numbered 1216 to 1221 were rebuilt in 1939-40 for "Deluxe" service for the 58 mile long San Bernardino line, passengers aboard the #1221 must have marveled at the 1221's interior appointments and striking exterior appearance. Most post-World War II runs on the San Pedro line were usually handled by 1000s, so this run using the 1221 must have been an unexpected treat for those passengers on aboard.

I have examined this crystal clear photo with a high-powered magnifying glass, and it appears that the 1221 is in virtually PERFECT condition at 35 years of age. She could have lasted indefinitely. Say what you want about the PE, but when it came to car maintenance, most if not all of PE's rolling stock from the venerable 950s to the Blimps were kept in A-1 condition. Sadly, little more than 2 years after this photo was taken, the entire 1200-class of high speed interurbans were sold for scrap and burned at Kaiser Steel in Fontana.

Officials from Buenos Aires looked at the 12s and liked what they saw, but the 1200 were so well built, that adding second passenger loading doors to the car ends was virtually and economically impossible. The slower 11s, with their double-loading passenger doors, went to South America instead, leaving the entire 12 class to face the scraper's torch. A terrible loss to the traction preservation movement that was still several years into the future.

Pacific Electric business car no. 1299 is now preserved at OERM. It began as a Portland 12 trailer before being rebuilt and powered as Officers Car 1299.

Craig Rasmussen Collection

1498: On the way to Travel Town

Posted on: August 2, 2016 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Jack Finn Collection

Jack Finn Collection

From the Jack Finn collection comes this image of Pacific Electric no. 1498 in around 1954 at the Torrance Shops. It's being loaded onto a lowboy trailer for transport to Travel Town, as the banner says.

1498 began life at the St. Louis Car Co. in 1904 as Pacific Electric no. 338. In 1911, it was renumbered 881 and rebuilt. It went through another rebuild in 1928 and emerged as Express Motor 1498. It was rebuilt back as coach 881 in 1942 and back as express motor 1498 in 1944.

Jack Finn Collection

Video: The Last Wig-Wag Signal, Anaheim, California

Posted on: July 15, 2016 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Ed Fleming is back with an absolutely amazing video he just produced, entitled "The Last Wig-Wag Signal, Anaheim, California." This one is a MUST-WATCH-NOW! Enjoy!

 

Fred Victor DuBritz Photo, Steve Crise Collection

Fred Victor DuBritz Photo, Steve Crise Collection

By Ralph Cantos

The last day of regular service was a very sad day for me. For several months I had been getting petitions signed by rail passengers to prevent abandonment — petitions given to me by the City Of Long Beach on actual city letterhead. In all, about 8000 passengers signed the petitions. I, along with Long Beach city officials, went to court in an effort to save the rail service. The court ordered the Southern Pacific to make the right-of-way available to the LAMTA, but the LAMTA was not interested in continuing the rail service for many reasons. I really thought we would win the fight to save the rail service. Twice while I was petitioning aboard the cars, MTA Special Agents put me off the train, telling me that I was not allowed to petition on State Property.. The second time they threw me off the train late at night at Dominguez Junction. I was pissed. I had to walk a mile to find a pay phone and call my dad to come and get me. I got an ear full from him. All this work was for nothing. I was 18 years old at the time and on the very last run as we pulled into Long Beach at dawn, the track was lined with red flares in the dawn mist. I broke down and cried like a baby. I will NEVER FORGET THAT LAST RUN.

Fred Victor DuBritz Photo, Steve Crise Collection

1054 at Municipal Power & Light

Posted on: May 30, 2016 by Pacific Electric 4 Comments

 

Jack Finn Collection

Jack Finn Collection

From the Jack Finn Collection comes this image of Pacific Electric no. 1054 powering past Municipal Power & Light, possibly in San Pedro, in a photo that is circa 1945.

Jack Finn Collection

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

When the first Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA) took over the operations of the Los Angeles Transit Lines (ex-Los Angeles Railway) and Metropolitan Coach Lines (ex-Pacific Electric) in March of 1958, I (as a 15-year-old railfan) was foolishly optimistic to actually think that LA was on the threshold of a new beginning in public transit. LA newspapers published photos of abandoned PE rights of ways, proclaiming that rail rapid transit would make a dramatic comeback to LA under the guidance of the "transit experts" who were supposedly part of the first LAMTA.

But as all rail fans in Los Angeles soon found out, rail rapid transit was the last thing the LAMTA had in mind for LA commuters. First order of business was to finish what Metropolitan Coach Lines had failed to do — that being the abandonment of the Bellflower Line just two months after the MTA's inauguration. Over the next two years, rail service on the San Pedro and Watts lines was abandoned in quick succession.

Then in February 1960, just two months after the Watts line an abandonment, the MTA conducted test with former Los Angeles Transit Lines PCC no. 3148 riding on standard gauge PCC trucks on loan from San Francisco Muni. The 3148 made test runs along the length of the Long Beach Line, sometimes in reverse.

In my opinion, this was all a bunch of "BS."

In this photo taken at 6th & Main Station in February 1960, the 3148 departs under the watchful eyes of 50-year-old Blimp no. 1708. The MTA concluded that the test went very well. To convert the Long Beach Line to single-end PCC operation would have meant that reverse loops would have to be constructed at 6th & Main and in Long Beach. PE's beautiful double-end PCCs were available, but the LAMTA did nothing and the double-enders were sold to Buenos Aires.

In one last bit of MTA "BS," Blimp no. 1543 was given a hasty two-tone green paint job to show Long Beach Line commuters that the LAMTA really wanted to continue rail service on the line.

But even before the green paint job on the 1543 could fully cure, LAMTA announced that the line would be converted to bus operation on April 9, 1961. The MTA said the the Southern Pacific Railroad (who owned the tracks) would not renew the lease on the right-of-way. In my opinion, MORE BS. The LAMTA was a state agency that could have told the SP to stick it where the sun don't shine. An so, that was that.

Next order of business, complete destruction of LA's five modern, excellent PCC-operated car lines, and for good measure, the two clean electric trolley bus lines would be abandoned as well. So much for bringing rapid transit to LA, which in five short years became an all bus "town."

Ralph Cantos Collection

Pacific Electric Wreck in Santa Ana, July 12, 1927

Posted on: January 25, 2016 by Pacific Electric 2 Comments

 

From Jeff Lear: My great grandfather was a mechanic and an avid photographer during the early part of the 20th Century. In one of my albums (which I've now made public) are several pictures taken by him of an accident which occurred in Santa Ana on July 12, 1927 between a Pacific Electric train and a truck. My great grandfather was called to the scene to tow one of the vehicles involved in the accident.

Further information from Jeff: While my great grandfather was an avid photographer, he made his living working in a garage, on July 12, 1927 he was called to the scene of a train vs. truck accident where the tracks cross 17th street in Santa Ana... This is how the Los Angeles Times reported it on July 13th...

FATAL CROSSING SMASH
One Killed and Two Injured as Pacific Electric Train Crashes Into Truck
--------
SANTA ANA, July 12 - One man was killed and two were injured today at the Pacific Electric crossing of Seventeenth Street, west of Santa Ana. Olen M. Lilley, 18, of Fullerton, was killed beneath the wreckage of a truck and a Pacific Electric train. The youth, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Claurant C. Lilley, 244 East Emerige Avenue, Fullerton, was crushed to death when his father's gravel truck rolled onto the tracks in the path of an electric train bound for Los Angeles with two carloads of passengers at 8:35 a.m. The head car of the train was derailed and partially demolished as it ploughed its way into the ditch.
W.B. Artz of Tustin and Los Angeles, the father of C.O. Artz, Tustin merchant, was severely injured. He was a passenger in the head car and was removed from the wreckage to the Santa Ana Valley Hospital where it was reported that he would probably recover. Except for Motorman A.H. Norris of Santa Ana, who rode his car into the ditch, no other occupants of the train was injured. Norris suffered an injury to one foot.

Lilley's body was removed to the Smith and Tuthill undertaking parlors in Santa Ana and later today was taken to the McAuley establishment at Fullerton. Coroner Charles D. Brown had not completed arrangements for the inquest.
Why the truck driver failed to stop at the crossing was a question that could not be answered today by witnesses of the wreck which was one of the worst in this district since two boys and a girl, of a party of six were killed in the same manner at the same crossing, two years ago.

Train crew and passengers stated that Lilley was driving his truck east on Seventeenth Street, bound toward Santa Ana while the train was traveling toward Los Angeles. The track crosses the boulevard at an angle so that the truck driver could have viewed the approach of the train without having to turn his gaze fully to the side. The vision at the crossing was unobstructed, it was said.

Ed. note: the car remaining on the track is likely PE no. 1039. Jeff has provided us with higher-resolution images of the car shots for closer examination. Thank you again, Jeff!

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission

Jeff Lear Collection, used with permission