LARY 357 in Troubled Waters: Navigating 7th Street

By Ralph Cantos

This remarkable photo taken on March 1, 1938 shows LARY car no. 357 as the “skipper” navigates the streetcar in high water along 7th Street in Downtown LA.

During the last week of February and the first week of March 1938, rain amounts of biblical proportions fell on Los Angeles.  Rain amounts of more then 10 inches fell on LA. Damage was widespread all over the city. Taking the hardest hits were the railroads. The Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific , and the Pacific Electric all suffered major damage to roadbed and bridges.

The rains of 1938 spelled the end of the Mount Lowe Railway. Large portions of the Alpine Division were washed away, never to be rebuilt.  The PE lost two bridges; the most impressive of the two was a portion of the Puente Largo concert-arch bridge on the Monrovia-Glendora Line. The other, less impressive PE bridge was on the San Fernando Line.

For the most part, the LARY came out of the rains with little damage.  As a result of these rains, new and sweeping flood control projects were implemented city-wide.  Probably the most notable of these flood control projects was the major improvements to the LA River. As a result, the LA River is navigable by pedestrians most of the year.

PE car no. 335 sits alone and abandoned on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood during the Great Floods Of 1938. The high water was just too much for the little fellow. As a result of the damage done to the 335, the little guy was never returned to service.

The PE had a large surplus of Birneys, so the 335 was a goner. Of interest to “car guys”, a 1938 Cord and a 1937 Studebaker pass the stranded 335 on the other side of the street. The Western-Franklin Line was referred to by PE crews as “The Merry Go Round,” as it really went from no where to no where.

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