Western District

PE 748: Last Days of the Venice Short Line

Posted on: January 5, 2018 by Pacific Electric 2 Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This photo of Pacific Electric no. 748 and train was taken in the last days of the world-famous Venice Short Line. The scene is at the foot of Venice Blvd. at Pacific Avenue in Venice. Behind the 748 is a new GM 2700-class Diesel bus, most likely on a training run. And like a scene out of the jungle, the GM Diesel bus is stalking the hapless 748 and train hoping to pounce on the train for the kill.

The September 17, 1950, abandonment of the VSL WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END for the Pacific Electric Railway as a large-scale commuter rail system. The VSL had great potential for upgrade to a fast and efficient light rail route. But the thinking of the day was to eliminate all forms of suburban and city rail transit in Southern California in favor of "more efficient" freeways.

And so, the VSL passed into history. The wide right-of-way down the center of Venice Blvd. would lay abandoned and weed-grown for more than a decade after abandonment. Finally, in 1963, the "improvement" of Venice Blvd. began. The right-of-way was removed and ONE auto traffic lane was added in each direction. The massive La Cienega / Venice Blvd. bridge was demolished and at the same time, and the long Pico / San Vicente viaduct went with it.

From the September 1950 abandonment of the VSL, to the last run on the Watts Line on November 2, 1959, the entire PE rail system was wiped out except for the Long Beach Line. Finally on April 9, 1961, the massive job of destroying a fantastic commuter rail system was complete. Modern freeways now moved the masses with far more speed then any of PE's trains.

Then in the 1980s, as auto traffic had reached intolerable conditions, transit experts came up with a brilliant idea. Why not built a light rail line between Long Beach and Downtown LA? I am sure some of these experts wondered why no one had come up with that idea before. As a result, the METRO RAIL BLUE LINE was born. And so now, decades after the PE was destroyed in the name of progress, the LACMTA is faced with rebuilding "HUMPTY-PE-DUMPTY" once again.

If I had not seen this transit fiasco with my own eyes, I would never believe that something this stupid could have ever taken place....

Ralph Cantos Collection

1260 at Vermont

Posted on: November 28, 2017 by Pacific Electric 6 Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

Here is another photo of Pacific Electric no. 1260 working the Santa Monica Air Line as an EXTRA. The train is west bound at Vermont Avenue.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Fatal Accident for Pacific Electric 654 in Hollywood

Posted on: October 31, 2017 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Steve Crise Collection

Steve Crise Collection

Historic Caption: Mrs Loyce Newton, 44, was killed here today (4/10) when here car skidded on wet streetcar tracks and crashed headon into a streetcar. She was thrown from her car and under the streetcar, dying before a wrecking crew and two ambulance teams could extricate her. Workmen are shown holding a blanket over Mrs. Newton while policeman comforts her.

Research suggests that the date of this photo is April 10th, 1948, and this accident possibly took place somewhere on the Hollywood Line along Sunset Blvd. The car number is PE 654.

Steve Crise Collection

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

In this October 1949 photo, Pacific Electric PCC no. 5021 rolls to a stop on Brand Boulevard at Broadway. This was urban rail transit at its finest. The Glendale-Burbank Line was perfection in every respect. The infrastructure was completely rebuilt just 10 years earlier, and the revolutionary double-end MU PCCs were nearing their 10th birthday.

And yet the dark gray skies above the perfect catenary signaled the fact that the Pacific Electric Railway as an interurban rail system would soon begin to disappear. As News Year's Day 1950 dawned, the PE still operated about 450 rail cars over 15 major lines. Three-car Rose Parade Specials would again take thousands of passengers to the Rose Parade in Pasadena as they had done for decades. The popular Venice Short Line would provide worry-free, dependable transportation to the beach at Santa Monica and Venice aboard the breezy, venerable 950s and 10s. But all this wonderful, trusty rail transportation was at death's door.

On September 17, 1950, the world-famous Venice Short Line was converted to motor bus operation and from that day forth, the rail abandonments came fast and frequent. Cities along many of PE's routes and the Highway Department could not destroy the remains of the PE fast enough, as the lines were abandoned. Just 10 years after the last run of the VSL, New Years Day 1960 saw just one line remaining, the Long Beach Line utilizing about 35 battered and neglected rail cars dating back almost 50 years. With the PE rails and rights-of-way gone, city planners could now move forward in building a futuristic freeway system that would make automobile travel across Los Angeles a happy and joyous experience. (How joyous was your trip on the I-10 or 405 yesterday?)

And today, the ghost of the PE past has come back to haunt the very cities that were so quick to see the last PE trains gone. So now, the cities that were so quick to put an end to urban rail service, must come up with unmanageable hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild something that was allowed to be destroyed as City officials looked the other way. A very painful lesson has been learned...the hard way.

Ralph Cantos 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

 

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

PE’s El Segundo and Santa Monica Air Line: Two of a Kind

Posted on: January 16, 2017 by Pacific Electric 3 Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This very rare photo taken in 1914 shows Pacific Electric car no. 214 southbound on the new El Segundo Line, just after leaving Watts.

Like the Santa Monica Air Line, passenger service on the El Segundo Line seemed to be an "afterthought" to the PE brass. The big money on both lines, was FREIGHT, and in the case of the El Segundo, lots of it. While the Air Line handled all manor of general freight, on the El Segundo Line, it was BLACK GOLD....OIL that kept the green money rolling into the PE revenue books and lots of that too.

Passenger revenues on both lines — that was another matter.

Passenger service to El Segundo was inaugurated when the line opened in August of 1914. And again like the Air Line, passengers were not packing the cars in sufficient numbers to make the line as important to the PE's Passenger Department as other Southern District Lines, chief among them, of course, the Long Beach Line.

After just 15 years , PE pulled the plug on El Segundo passenger service; it was gone by the end of October 1930.

The El Segundo Line did not have the legions of loyal passengers like the Santa Monica Air Line did (all 75 of them), and so passenger service on the Air Line was whittled away until the final, one-car-a-day schedule went into effect in 1933 and lasted to the bitter end in October of 1953. Both Lines continued and thrived as freight lines for decades after the last passenger services made final runs on both lines.

Today, the Santa Monica Air Line has been reborn as the LACMTA Metro Rail-Expo Line. And someday, thanks in part to the passage of Measure M , passengers wishing to travel from Los Angeles and points in-between to El Segundo by rail, might again do so via an extended Metro Green line.

Only time will tell.

Ralph Cantos Collection

The Life and Times of Pacific Electric 1260

Posted on: November 19, 2016 by Pacific Electric 8 Comments

 

Here are a collection of images of Pacific Electric no. 1260, its many adventures and even a prominent mishap, all captured by photographers back in the day.

Jack Finn Print Collection. Craig Rasmussen print. From the PERyhs.org archive.  Photographer: Unknown Location: Westbound on the Santa Monica Air Line crossing Vermont Ave. Date: 1949 Railroad: Pacific Electric Line: Air Line Car#: PE 1260  PE 1227 Notes on back of print: Santa Monica Air Line: 1260 - 1227, W.B. at Vermont Ave, 1949 LATL Strike Collection of Craig A Rasmussen  Image notes: Photo appears in Interurbans Special Western District page 53. Photo credited to Magna Collection.

Jack Finn Print Collection. Craig Rasmussen print. From the PERyhs.org archive.
Photographer: Unknown
Location: Westbound on the Santa Monica Air Line crossing Vermont Ave.
Date: 1949
Railroad: Pacific Electric
Line: Air Line
Car#: PE 1260 PE 1227
Notes on back of print: Santa Monica Air Line: 1260 - 1227, W.B. at Vermont Ave, 1949 LATL Strike
Collection of Craig A Rasmussen
Image notes: Photo appears in Interurbans Special Western District page 53. Photo credited to Magna Collection.

Image from the Jack Finn collection. Photographer: Unknown Date: Unknown Location: San Pedro Street in downtown Los Angeles.  Notes on back of print: PE 1260 J 734 Image Notes: Scanned from a 3 /14 x 5 3/4 inch print

Image from the Jack Finn collection.
Photographer: Unknown
Date: Unknown
Location: San Pedro Street in downtown Los Angeles.
Notes on back of print: PE 1260 J 734
Image Notes: Scanned from a 3 /14 x 5 3/4 inch print

Steve Crise Archive - Acme Photo - Photographer unknown Photographer:  Acme Photo - Photographer unknown Location: San Pedro Street south of 6th Street, Los Angeles, California Date: November 28, 1943 Railroad: Pacific Electric Locomotive: PE 1260 Notes on back of 8x10 print: LA 23697  (Los Angeles Bureau) TWENTY-TWO ESCAPE INJURY - LOS ANGELES - Twenty-two passengers of this Pacific Electric car miraculously escaped without even a scratch when it jumped the tracks and overtuned. Faulty brakes were believed to have been the cause of the accident. Bureaus Coast CREDIT LINE (ACME) 11-28-43  From Acme Newspictures, Inc Los Angeles Bureau, 1257 So. Los Angeles Street. Please credit Acme Photo. This picture is sold to you for your publication only and must not be loaned syndicated or used for advertising purposes without written permission from Acme.  Purchased from Historic Images  6073 Mt. Moriah Ext Memphis TN 38115 historicimages.com ney01237  October 2016

Steve Crise Archive - Acme Photo - Photographer unknown
Photographer: Acme Photo - Photographer unknown
Location: San Pedro Street south of 6th Street, Los Angeles, California
Date: November 28, 1943
Railroad: Pacific Electric
Locomotive: PE 1260
Notes on back of 8x10 print: LA 23697 (Los Angeles Bureau) TWENTY-TWO ESCAPE INJURY - LOS ANGELES - Twenty-two passengers of this Pacific Electric car miraculously escaped without even a scratch when it jumped the tracks and overtuned. Faulty brakes were believed to have been the cause of the accident. Bureaus Coast CREDIT LINE (ACME) 11-28-43 From Acme Newspictures, Inc Los Angeles Bureau, 1257 So. Los Angeles Street. Please credit Acme Photo. This picture is sold to you for your publication only and must not be loaned syndicated or used for advertising purposes without written permission from Acme.
Purchased from Historic Images
6073 Mt. Moriah Ext
Memphis TN 38115
historicimages.com ney01237 October 2016

Robert X Loewing photo, Craig Rasmussen collection. Steve Crise Archive Photographer: Robert X Lowing Date: April 1949  Railroad: Pacific Electric Railray Car#: PE 1260 Location: Sentous Yard, La Cienega Blvd at Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, California. Present day location of the La Cienega Expo Line station.  Notes on back of 8 x 10 print: 1260 -1227 W.B. on Santa Monica Air Line at Sentous; 1949 (LATL Strike) Rob't X. Loewing Photo. Image notes: Photo taken during the 1949 Los Angeles Transit Lines strike. This explains the use of the 1200's on the Air Line.

Robert X Loewing photo, Craig Rasmussen collection. Steve Crise Archive
Photographer: Robert X Lowing
Date: April 1949
Railroad: Pacific Electric Railray
Car#: PE 1260
Location: Sentous Yard, La Cienega Blvd at Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, California. Present day location of the La Cienega Expo Line station.
Notes on back of 8 x 10 print: 1260 -1227 W.B. on Santa Monica Air Line at Sentous; 1949 (LATL Strike) Rob't X. Loewing Photo.
Image notes: Photo taken during the 1949 Los Angeles Transit Lines strike. This explains the use of the 1200's on the Air Line.