N Line

Tony the Trolley Puller and 1245 at Spring and Sunet

Posted on: May 26, 2012 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment
Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Tony the Trolley Puller stands before Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1245 at the Spring and Sunset terminal on the N Line. The image is dated August 25, 1950.

Alan Weeks Photo
Alan Weeks Collection

From Alan:

After my friend copied some negatives I decided to scan a few more Negatives of the N Line. The first batch was scanned from the Prints. There should be a noticeable difference in this batch scanned from the Negatives.

The N Line was abandoned on September 10, 1950 this marked the end of the first phase of Post War abandonment's on the LATL. June 30, 1946 was the first with the A Line, Edgeware Rd., Gage Ave., E & 10 Line Shuttles. Also I believe the G Line on Griffith Ave. went. Then the big abandonment of Aug 3, 1947. The D, F, H, U & 3 Lines were abandoned. They were all replaced by buses except the 3 Line which became LATL's first Trolley Coach Line. The first Trolley Bus Line was in Laurel Canyon in 1914 or so. It did not last long. Then in December 1948 the B Line was converted to Trolley Bus operation. These remained the only two lines to use Trolley Buses.

It is interesting how Trolley Buses happened to come to Los Angeles. In 1947 the Federal Government filed a Law Suit against NCL National City Lines for conspiracy and restraint of trade. LATL was owned by NCL as well as the Key System Transit lines in Oakland. Just before Key System was purchased by NCL the old company ordered a batch of Trolley Buses. They were delivered to Oakland after NCL had taken over the property. NCL did not want to run them in Oakland. Because of the Law Suit they decided to move them to Los Angeles to prove they were not against electric transportation. They also ordered 48 Electric PCC cars. The Conspiracy to destroy trolley car systems was never proven. They were however convicted of restraint of trade. This is how the Myth of GM, Standard Oil and Firestone tire company set out to destroy street cars systems in L.A and the other systems they owned got started. I have never totally bought into the theory. There may have been some fire but it was mostly smoke. The argument will go on for ever.

I have not looked at these pictures in over sixty years. The minute I saw picture 060 it brought back some interesting memories. My family and I moved to Eagle Rock when I was fifteen. I soon discovered I could walk up the hill and catch a W Line Streetcar and go to Los Angeles. From there I could ride the yellow and red car lines all over So. Calif. Many times I would get off at Broadway and Sunset and walk over to Spring. That is where I met Tony the Trolley Puller .Between St. cars I would ask him all kinds of questions about the LATL cars and system. Some time he would let me help him when two cars were at the Terminal at the same time.

Both the N & 7 Lines ended there. He had these heavy gloves wrapped in heavy tape so he would not burn his hands on the pull ropes. He was there for many years Maybe all day or perhaps just the AM and PM peak periods. I am not sure but he might have had a disability because LARY/ LATL were good about keeping disabled operators in some kind of job. They were used as Flag Men in the little houses at railroad crossings. Also rear door loaders on Street Cars and Buses. They had a Key that opened the back doors and a small hand pulled register hanging around their necks.

When you look at his picture you can see his head held high. He was proud of his humble job. He was a big strong guy but being on your feet rain or shine hot or cold was not easy. I bet he never complained to management or filed a law suit. Day in day out he did his job well. Helping all the other operators make a quick turn around at the Terminal. Probably no one would even take a job like that today.

The pictures taken at Division 4 Georgia Street Car House are interesting because the Convention Center sits on that site today. There used to be a little shop building, a Electric Substation and an Office building called Sentious. The Division train room was on the lower floor. The top floor was occupied by the Schedule Division, and Transportation Dept. M. Edwin Wright was Supt. of Operations and George Goehler was Supt. of Schedules. Both highly feared Transit Gods. At sixteen I never had to fear them lol. Then twenty years later when I went to work for RTD George Goehler had risen to General Manager. I then joined the others who stayed out of his way. lol Funny years later some of the guys started a rumor that I was the
nephew of George Goehler and that was how I got into the Schedule Dept. I got a good laugh but I am not sure I ever convinced them that I was not.

I also met Jim Madigan who was Superintendent of Division 4. He was in charge of several hundred motorman and conductors. He always had a few minutes to talk to me when I made the rounds. He later gave me his RR Brass button collection. Uniform buttons from Street Car companies all over the U.S. He grew up in Brooklyn and asked me how the Dodgers baseball team got its name. I did not know but he said they were originally called the Trolley Dodgers. lol He was always thankful that LATL gave his son a job as a Flagman. He was disabled and was wheelchair bound. He flagged the crossing of Vermont Ave cars crossing the Santa Monica Air line at Exposition.

I will never forget the strong character Jim Madigan had. He said no matter how a worker would screw up he always tried to salvage the person and keep them working if possible. Most of the operators had sat in his office talking to him about problems that would arise. He talked about their tragedys, deaths in the family, accidents, divorces etc. Having started out as a Motorman he knew how hard this job was. My life was better for having known these men.

Alan Weeks
May 25, 2012

One Response

  1. Bob Davis

    May 29, 2012

    Thanks for the story. It takes men and women to make the machines that we find so fascinating come to life. Last time I saw a worker who might be called a “trolley puller” was in Chicago, where they had a man stationed at South Blvd. on the Evanston Line, where the “L” cars changed from third rail to overhead wire. During off-peak hours, the operator would pull or raise the pole, but at busy times the man at the station would do this.
    Probably the nastiest mode change job was the “plow man” in Washington DC, who would remove or attach the “plow” current collector for the conduit system used within the district. They would be stationed in the plow pits at the District boundaries–someone had to do this, rain or shine, sleet or snow.

    Reply

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