Los Angeles Railway

LATL 1500s for the Fishes

Posted on: March 22, 2013 by Pacific Electric 6 Comments
Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

A former Los Angeles Transit Lines streetcar is craned into position before being placed into the waters off Redondo Beach as an artificial reef in 1956.

From Ralph Cantos:

After LATL abandoned rail lines 5-7-8-9-& F in the big 1955 abandonment, more then 300 LATL cars (all in mint condition) of the 1200, 1300, and 1500 series and the last remaining standards (500s and 1100s plus the #2501 and #2602) were sold for scrap to National Metals and Steel in early 1956. National Metals later either sold or donated about 25 1500s for use as "fish hotels". The K-4 1500's were chosen because they were not of heavy steel construction like their H-4 cozens, but rather mostly wood bodies built on a steel frame. The K-4 bodies were not as valuable as the all steel H-4's. Only the roofs of the H-4's were wood. The car bodies were transported by NAVY salvage ship to the waters off Redondo Beach without ceremony and DUMPED! A few years later on an 1958 episode of "SEA HUNT" Lloyd Bridges swam with the local fishes in and out of the car bodies. After being in the sea water for more then 2 years, the 1500's still looked good. Their wood slat walk over seats , less brass handles , looked ready for rush hour passengers on the W & 9 lines. The local "fish passengers" seemed oblivions to the historic nature of their surroundings. On the East Coast, the local fish were treated to more "substation" hotel accommodations. The fish there , were treated to retired all steel New York City RED BIRD subway cars. The body of LATL #2501 was later rescued from National Metals, and moved to OERM. Sadly , the #2602 perished, but its sister #2601, lives on at OERM.

Ralph Cantos Collection

6 Responses

  1. Jonathan

    March 22, 2013

    I wonder how they look now.

    Reply
    • Paul Jackson

      March 22, 2013

      As per http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/99n3p098 “On September 28, 1961 the last diving observation showed only one streetcar with the framework intact. The remaining five were reduced to wreckage, with only the floor areas somewhat intact.

      “[In November 1963] The relatively short life for car bodies and streetcars is a serious drawback to use of these materials. At Paradise Cove, where car bodies have been on the ocean floor for about 4½ years and at Redondo Beach where the streetcars have been soaking for about 4 months less, deterioration has been so bad the materials are almost entirely rubble.”

      Reply
      • Pacific Electric

        March 22, 2013

        Awesome find, Paul! Thank you!

        Reply
  2. Michael Patris

    March 22, 2013

    Wow! I grew up in that area and never knew this story! Of course, my mom was still in high school when it happened, but we did plenty of diving in the late 1970’s but obviously not in the right place! Now we have to send a crew! Amazing photo and story!

    Reply
  3. Robert Hernandez

    March 23, 2013

    I was upset when we lost Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Transit Lines ( aka L A Metropolitan Transit ) …. THEN they took the Streetcars and put in Ocean for the Breakwater and for an Artificial Reef …… I am sure the Fish and other sea animals found a good home…… SEE the Trains and Streetcars at Orange Empire Railway Museum, Perris, CAlifornia …….

    Reply
  4. Dave Greaves

    April 24, 2013

    Does anyone know the episode number of the sea hunt tv show that had them in it ? For a while they were playing sea hunt on the air again in socal but as I saw them all a gain a few time they must have been showing a different season/yr as I never saw the episode with them in it…. ?

    Reply

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