Northern District

PE 671-5078: Bound For Glory

Posted on: January 20, 2014 by Pacific Electric 2 Comments
Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

The September 1951 abandonment of Pacific Electric's Northern District brought about by freeway construction (in particular, the 10/101/5 interchange in East Los Angeles) suddenly made almost 50 recently refurbished Hollywood cars for the most part surplus. These Hollywood cars were the backbone of PE's local and suburban Northern District rail operations.

Except for the 1200-volt Baldwin Park Line, the Hollywoods roamed far and wide across the San Gabriel Valley until the last day of operations. After abandonment, most of the cars were placed in dead storage at West Hollywood along with the 1100s, which the Hollywood cars themselves had bumped from service several month earlier.

So in the early months of 1953, the Portland Traction Company sent company representatives down to Los Angeles to look over the near-mint surplus Hollywood cars. Portland Traction was looking for some "newer" cars to spruce up the company image, and the Hollywood cars were just the ticket.

The Portland Traction reps had the "pick-of-the-litter"; eight cars were chosen and run through Torrance Shops before heading north. The beautifully refurbished cars were well received with much civic celebration and media coverage in Portland.

However, their days of glory would last only five short years. By 1958, Portland Traction was on the financial ropes as were so many other private transit systems across the USA. Even bus companies were not doing so well in a time of interstate highway construction. By the end of 1958, all but one of the cars were burned and scrapped.

The former PE 680 / 5069 / Portland Traction 4022 was saved and is now stored at the Seashore Trolley Museum.

In the above 1953 photo, the 4020 prepares to leave Torrance Shops for its new home in the ROSE CITY.

Ralph Cantos Collection

2 Responses

  1. Bob Davis

    January 20, 2014

    I’ve taken a peek at 680 at Seashore (I also saw it when it was stored in Woodburn OR). The wet climate of the Willamette Valley was not kind to the car; at least at the Mother Church it’s under a tarp. As I recall it has no motors, and it’s a long way down on the Seashore priority list. Thank goodness for 717 at OERM.

    Reply
  2. Patrick Galligan

    January 24, 2014

    I’ve seen brief views of a Hollywood Car or two operating around Portland in an old video conversion narrated by a retired Portland motorman. They looked pretty misplaced trying to negotiate the snow-covered landscape in some winter shots.

    Reply

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