The Saga of the PE 1200s

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

In all their years of service on the Pacific Electric Railway, only three of PE’s own 1200-class interurbans would retire prematurely. One San Berdoo 12, no. 1206, was “T-Boned” on August 24, 1944 by a large truck while in service on the single-track Santa Ana Line. The driver of the truck died on impact, and 1206 was not that badly damaged. But the truck caught fire and the flames spread to the 1206 causing extreme damage. The 1206 was towed to Torrance Shops, stripped of all usable parts, and placed into Long Beach 12 trailer #1242. In so doing, the PE now had a “super Long Beach 12,” considerably faster than the “stock” Long Beach 12s.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

Two years later, on November 29, 1946, again on the Santa Ana Line, Long Beach 12 no. 1235 plowed head-on into no. 1231 at speed in a thick early morning fog. Because of the superior construction of 1200s no one was killed, not even the motor men in both cars. However, there were 35 injuries. This time, both cars were so badly damaged, they were placed on freight car trucks and towed to Torrance Shops. While the shop men at Torrance could have repaired the cars, it was decided by management to motorize two more of “yard queen trailers,” nos. 1243 and 1244. Motors and controls from the 1235 went into the 1243 and trailer 1244 got the the motor and controls from the 1231. Had this accident happened a few years later, say around 1948, I am not sure that the PE would gone to the trouble to motorize the two trailers, but passengers were still riding the “Big Red Cars” in 1946, in sufficient numbers, that both cars were still needed.

The 1243 made it to San Bernardino on October 15, 1950 under its own power, long after regular passenger service had been discontinued. It was motorized in 1946 using parts from the 1235. Ken Douglas photo

The 1243 made it to San Bernardino on October 15, 1950 under its own power, long after regular passenger service had been discontinued. It was motorized in 1946 using parts from the 1235. Ken Douglas photo

By 1950, the good times were over for the PE, and the magnificent 1200s were sold for scrap in 1951. Officials of the General Urquiza Railroad looked at the 12s, but the cost of adding a second passenger loading door to each end of the car was deemed to expensive and they chose the slower 1100s instead with their “factory” double passenger loading doors. An so, these fine cars were lost.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

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Showing 20 comments
  • Eriks Garsvo
    Reply

    Ralph when you say the car was Motorized, what does that mean? the car was no longer on electric line and had its own gas powered motor?

    • Ralph Cantos
      Reply

      Eriks, thank you so much for your interest. When I say “motorized” I mean that the trailers got the traction motors , trolley poles and other electrical parts from the damaged cars, in this case, cars #1231 and #1235, making them the same as the other motorized 1200’s.. Ralph

  • R Ruiz
    Reply

    Such a shame that none of PE’s original steel interurbans survived into preservation (in the US at least). The 1100s and 1200s were great looking cars.

  • Bob Davis
    Reply

    What’s left of PE 1141 survives in Argentina. Much as I would love to see an 1100 running at Orange Empire, repatriating and remotorizing the car would be a major challenge. It might be easier to have a replica body built, equip it with modern control apparatus (like the San Pedro 500s) and set it on Key System trucks (I think OERM has a set). But that would be “replication” rather than “preservation”.

  • Greg Davidson
    Reply

    Great story! Thank you for posting it! Out of curiosity, what series cars were used on the LA-Whittier-Brea-Yorba Linda line?

  • Harley Herndon
    Reply

    Ralph, what are the details of the pix that was taken the the 1207…in the 2 car train

  • Ralph Cantos
    Reply

    There was one other photo that was in the LA Times showing the 2 cars , but it is not as clear as the one here.

  • Bob Davis
    Reply

    The photo with 1207 shows the cars with destination signs for the Pasadena via Oak Knoll line. I’m trying determine the location, but parts of Pasadena have changed so much over the years that it’s hard to tell.

    • Robert Anderson
      Reply

      I can’t read the route signs, but looks like S. Fair Oaks Ave. to me, with Raymond Hill in the background.

  • Ralph Cantos
    Reply

    Harley, did understand your question at first, sorry. Bob Davis gives the best answer to your question Ralph

  • Harley Herndon
    Reply

    Bob, Ralph, thanks for your reply. When i was 14 years old i joined with the ERA(?). The meeting place was somewhere downtown. took many excursions: around LA on LATL…to Bellflower, San Pedro, Long Beach on MTA. Took many pictures, most were lost…about 50 or so are around..much enjoy this site work, and looking at pictures that were taken in the 50’s early 60’s with my 35 mm camera that i used at the time…

  • Ralph Cantos
    Reply

    The ERHA-SC would meet at the PE Building and for a time, at the LADWP Building in Downtown LA. It has been so many years, I could not tell you for sure which one we met at first….or last !! My very first meeting of the ERHA-SC in 1957 (then known as the SC-ERA)was in a abasement room UNDER the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park. The late Edmond J. Kielty sent me a “Welcome to the Club” letter.

  • Harley Herndon
    Reply

    Ralph, if possible, could you do a story on how train movements were controlled at the elevated 6th and main st station. i haven’t a clue… one of the meetings of the ERHA-SC, they showed a GMC propaganda movie: depicting the big mess, tracks and overhead, made in cities to convince the city fathers to purchase coaches.

  • Ralph Cantos
    Reply

    Harley, watch for an photo story about the 6th & Main “Rear Tower”. It will be posted in the near furure.

  • Harley Herndon
    Reply

    Ralph, Thanks that will be super cool !

  • Laverne Moody
    Reply

    Does anyone affiliated with PERYHS know if there is a photo in existence of the MOODY Station? My great grandfather Joseph Porter Moody lived on that property and the street is named after him. Thanks for any info

    • Pacific Electric
      Reply

      Hi Laverne – can you provide us with any location information for this station?

  • Bob Davis
    Reply

    According to the ERHA/SC PE Stations book, Moody was about 2.5 miles southeast of Artesia on the Santa Ana Line. Garden Grove was about 7 miles further down the line. No photos of Moody or Artesia in the book.

  • DAVE MOSER
    Reply

    I believe Moody was in present day Cypress. Great website, and keep up the good work.

  • Al Donnelly
    Reply

    This whole question of lost photos and forgotten stations is quite interesting. I don’t have my hands on them right now, but the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society had a two-part article in their journal covering SP shelter-type station structures. Not sure if they included PE (someone may know), will have to check. But hold out hope for someone recovering a lost candid photo from a family album pile. I was able to get a Red Electric (Portland-out lines) shelter along Lake Oswego that was largely un-documented. Hold your breathe…we might get lucky!

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