Los Angeles Railway

A Tale of Two “Maggies”: LARY nos. 1 and 7

Posted on: May 8th, 2014 by Pacific Electric 6 Comments
Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This remarkable photograph from a Keystone Cops silent film made around 1918 shows Los Angeles Railway "Maggies" nos. 7 and 1 putting the "squeeze" on an early Model T Ford. Both cars shine under the production company lights.

Decades later, these very same two cars would figure into LARY history in dramatically different ways.

LARY owned about 45 "Maggies." Over the years, most of the short little cars were rebuilt and converted to larger cars of at least three different types, with all the work being done by the master woodworkers at the company's South Park Shops.

Several cars were converted to type B (Standard), type C (Sowbelly), and type F (Arch roof). By the 1930's, only 8 "Maggies" remained in their last recognizable configuration. These surviving Maggies were a fixture of the short but hilly I Line that ran out west 1st Street and Beverly Blvd, to Bonnie Brea Street where connections could be made to the D line.

Principal braking for the Maggies was a magnetic brake shoe located between the wheels on the other wise standard arch-bar truck. The "fatal flaw" with this usually dependable braking system was that if the trolley pole left the overhead wire ("de-wire-ment"), the brakes were not worth a damn, and the motorman would have to spring into quick action and wind up the hand brake. This flaw would manifest itself one afternoon in 1939.

The City Of Los Angeles was planning to reconfigure the tricky intersection of Glendale and Beverly Blvds. where 2nd Street joined the fray. A new massive viaduct would span Glendale Blvd. and 2nd Street, both streets hosting busy Pacific Electric rail lines. The new viaduct did not include the rails of the LARY I Line, because the I Line was scheduled for abandonment by the end of 1939.

One afternoon in the early months of 1939, Maggie #1 was in bound for the Downtown terminal at 1st and Hill Streets. As the eastbound #1 crested the last hill at Grand Avenue, for unknown reasons, #1's trolley pole left the wire. By the time the motorman realized what the HELL was going on, it was too late to wind up the hand brake and the long career of #1 came to a crashing end at 1st and Hill Streets.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

All the surviving Maggies were scheduled for retirement with the I Line abandonment, and so, as skilled at LARY shop men were in rebuilding such accident damage, the #1 was scrapped on the spot.

Years later in the early 1960s it was brought to the attention of OERM members that a streetcar body was uncovered in a house located in Barstow. The house was to be demolished. While inspecting the car body trapped in the confines of the doomed house, it was discovered that, lo and behold, there was old Maggie #7. The #7 was "rescued" and now awaits restoration at OERM.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

And so the two Maggies that came together for the Keystone Cops comedy would lead two very different, but noteworthy, lives.

MAGGIE EPILOGUE: LARY / LATL arch roof "type F" car #1160 rebuilt in 1923 from a Maggie, is preserved in operating condition at OERM.

UPDATE from Ralph: Here is LARY car #1031 at the end of the Edgeware Road line. The 1031 is on Douglass Street at Kensington Rd. The production crew and cameras for the Maggie shots was set up right where the 1031 sits in this 1946 Robert T. McVay photo. The apartments and craftsmen houses have change very little, if at all, in this historic zone.

Robert T. McVay Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

Robert T. McVay Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

6 Responses

  1. Duncan Still

    May 10, 2014

    I am guessing the location for this Keystone Cop scene is in the Angeleno Heights section of L.A. – probably Edgeware Road. Does anyone agree? There is a hill on the street behind the streetcars, characteristic of this part of town. Also, it would make sense for this area to be used for movies because there was not a lot of traffic on this line (I think the “A” car ran here during the time this movie was made, although I could be wrong), regular cars could turn back at the intersection of Temple and Edgeware. Also, it is well known that Mack Sennett, the producer of Keystone Cops, had his studio within 2 miles of this location and made many of his movies in proximity to his studio.

    Reply
  2. Ralph Cantos

    May 10, 2014

    The 2 Maggies are on Douglas St. The camera is set up at Kensington Rd. looking south. About one block behind the 2 cars is Edgeware Rd. The line came up Edgeware Rd. to Douglas, made a right turn onto Douglas for one block to the end of the line at Kensington Rd. In the film clip, Maggie #7 is on the track that leads into the crossover at the end of the line. I would bet that all the houses in the photo are still standing to this day.

    Reply
    • Ralph Cantos

      May 11, 2014

      Thanks Peter T. for the present day image of the MAGGIE location. If you notice the apartment to the right of the #1 has a stair case going up to the second floor, very visable in the past and present images .

      Reply
  3. Peter T

    May 11, 2014

    Ralph,
    I’ve never been to LA but thanx to http://www.pacificelectric.org/ it seems as if I know it inside out. (lol)

    Reply

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