By Robert L. Davis
With attention now given to the LA-Pasadena Light Rail line, I thought I'd better write some of my remembrances of the Monrovia line, which shared the Pasadena lines as far as South Pasadena and San Marino. As I start writing this, one of the last segments of the old line is rapidly filling with housing units. When I tell people I lived next door to a double track electric railway they will have a hard time believing it.
I'm one of those rare birds, the Southern California Native. My birth certificate reads "Pasadena Rural" because the hospital was outside city limits in those days. St. Luke's Hospital is still in the same place, but Pasadena has expanded eastward. A few blocks away is Sierra Madre Blvd, where a grassy median is all that's left of the PE Sierra Madre line. I grew up on Fifth Ave. in Monrovia, on the north side of the PE right-of-way. From the time I was old enough to notice, to the sad days in 1952 when the track and trolley wire were ripped out, PE was part of my life. Here it is as I remember it, and as I have read about it in the works of Ira Swett and other rail historians.
Typical weekday service was a car every half-hour to Monrovia, with every other car continuing to Glendora. Rush hours would see two and three car trains running on ten or fifteen minute headways. Add to this a daily freight train, a daily "box motor", and assorted work cars, and there was a lot to watch.... Read More