Monographs

Life Along the Pacific Electric Monrovia-Glendora Line

Posted on: October 29, 2012 by Pacific Electric 16 Comments

 

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

Notes by L. A. Toothaker

Posted on: December 27, 2011 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Sometime perhaps in the 40's or 50's my grandfather wrote a brief treatise on his railroad-related experiences, calling it "Notes by L. A. Toothaker," which I came across and have typed as a Word document.  He was born and lived in Rangeley, Maine and later moved to Phillips, and elsewhere on the East Coast before moving to California; about the first half of the text is about the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes, which of course was part of life around there, though he never worked for that road.  (At least three others of my ancestors did, however, including his great-grandfather "Squire Abner" Toothaker, first president of the Sandy River.)  The remainder referred to his time on the PE and I have made that into a separate document, attached herewith.

L. A. Toothaker Collection
Thomas Pollock Collection

... Read More

 

Monograph #1: James N. Spencer: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric

Monograph #1: James N. Spencer: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric

From early childhood trips on the P. E., Railroad Boosters fan trips, riding a three-car train from Hollywood Boulevard and Vermont Avenue to the Rose Parade and rail fanning around the system during and after World War II, Jim Spencer recounts them all in his own unique style. 44 pages with 33 photographs and index.

Oral History Series #1

 

Monograph #2: John L. (Jack) Whitmeyer: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric

Monograph #2: John L. (Jack) Whitmeyer: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric

Jack Whitmeyer recalls his experiences of the P.E. with particular emphasis on Riverside from 1934 to 1942. This monograph also covers San Bernardino and the San Bernardino – Los Angeles RPO. 56 pages with 46 photos (most of which were taken by Jack Whitmeyer), 5 maps (four specially drawn by Jack Whitmeyer for this monograph), reproductions of P. E. notices and forms, and an index.

Oral History Series #2

Monograph #3: Charles Seims: Last Days of Mount Lowe

Posted on: December 10, 2009 by PERyHS No Comments

 

Monograph #3: Charles Seims: Last Days of Mount Lowe

Monograph #3: Charles Seims: Last Days of Mount Lowe

Charles Seims recalls his experiences discovering the P. E.’s Mount Lowe Line 20 years after its abandonment and his attempts to recover, record and preserve its artifacts in subsequent years. Historical material derived from official documents and personal interviews gleaned after the publication of his book, Mount Lowe, the Railway to the Clouds, Golden West Books, San Marino, California, are also included. This monograph contains 30 photographs, which the author believes have never been published before, 60 pages, map and index.

 

Monograph #4: Craig Rasmussen and Jack Finn: The Pacific Electric Goes to War, Volume 1, Moving the Freight

Monograph #4: Craig Rasmussen and Jack Finn: The Pacific Electric Goes to War, Volume 1, Moving the Freight

Containing an economic analysis if P. E. operations up to the beginning of World War II, a photo essay, “Steam to the Rescue” covering the extensive use of steam power by the P.E. during the war, including rare scenes of San Diego and Arizona Eastern #27 in action, and a reproduction of the 20 page P.E. Special Instructions to Employees Relating to Air Raid Precautions, Air Raid Alarms and Blackouts, Effective June 1, 1944. 68 pages with map, 68 photographs, the vast majority of which have never been published before, and index.

 

Monograph #5: Robert B. Petersen: Redondo Beach and the Pacific Electric

Monograph #5: Robert B. Petersen: Redondo Beach and the Pacific Electric

A native of Redondo Beach, with family members involved with the Main Street and Agricultural Park Railroad, LARY, LATL, LAMTA, SCRTD, and MTA, and living through the demise and rebirth of electric traction in Los Angeles, Robert B. Petersen brings a unique perspective not only to the rail history of Redondo Beach, but also the history of the Pacific Electric. Bob, as he in known to his friends, also relates eye-witness accounts of some very unusual practices and events in the operation of the Pacific Electric. 60 pages, 38 photographs, 4 maps and index.

Oral History Series #3

 

Monograph #6: Bill Arnold: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric

Monograph #6: Bill Arnold: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric

Known to his friends as “Der Fliegender Hollander” (The Flying Dutchman) because he didn’t seem to have a home and could always be seen riding the Pacific Electric, Bill Arnold still found time to work for the P. E., raise a family, as well as doing a lot of rail fanning. The remembrances of his years with the P. E. and his escapades are peppered with anecdotes and personal comments about the times in which they occurred. 60 pages, 53 photographs, map of the Santa Monica Airline, and index.

Oral History Series #4

 

Monograph #7: Walter Abbenseth: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric, Volume 1

Monograph #7: Walter Abbenseth: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric, Volume 1

A former employee of the Pacific Electric Railway, the late Walter Abbenseth was also well known to the Southern California rail fan community both for his efforts to save and preserve P. E. equipment and his generosity in sharing his extensive collection of photographs, slides, movies and videos. (Which now reside at the Orange Empire Railway Museum) This monograph covers his experiences and observations of the P. E. while growing up in Echo Park and South Central districts of Los Angeles, his employment by the P. E., and rail fan activities. The span of this monograph is roughly from the late Great Depression years to 1965. 60 pages, 52 photographs, Echo Park Avenue Line map, and index.

Oral History Series #5

 

Monograph #8: Fred Hust: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric

Monograph #8: Fred Hust: Remembrances of the Pacific Electric

Fred Hust’s interest in the P. E. started when he was about three years old and continued throughout his life. Fred was fortunate enough to grow up in the area near Vineyard Junction, the busiest interurban junction of the P. E.’s Western District, at a time when the P. E. was still near its peak. He starts his colorful narrative with his childhood experiences at Vineyard and riding various P. E. lines. He goes on to describe both his adult activities as a P. E. commuter and as a rail fan from the late 1930’s to the very early 1950’s. A keen photographer from early on, his photographs provide most of the illustrations used in this monograph.  60 pages, 52 photographs, one drawing, Venice Short Line map, and index.

Oral History Series #6