Pacific Electric 5167/717: A Lucky Warrior
By Ralph Cantos
Pacific Electric Hollywood car no. 5167 is seen here at Gardner Junction in the last days of the Hollywood Boulevard – Beverly Hills Line. After 29 years of service, the old gal still looks great having just gone through a rehab that turned her into a one-man car. She was built new in 1925 by the J. G. Brill Company as PE no. 717. She was renumbered 5167 in the 1949-50 one-man rebuild, which also included a fresh coat of paint.
Number 717-5167 was a fixture of the Western District most of its adult life, primarily working the Hollywood Boulevard and Glendale-Burbank Lines. Pacific Electric rail management had a tendency to assign cars to different lines in blocks of consecutively numbered cars. For instance, the Watts Local had cars numbered 5111 to 5125 assigned to that line, to its very last days. Hollywood Boulevard and the Glendale Line had cars numbered 5144 to 5168, while the San Fernando Valley Line featured cars numbered 5169 to 5181.
When the Valley Line closed, the “best of the best” (all former 700s) were placed in dead storage at Torrance Shops, never to run again in revenue service. The 1953 abandonment of the Santa Monica Boulevard Line saw still more Hollywood cars go into dead storage. Then in mid-1954, the Hollywood Boulevard Line was abandoned.
Out-of-service Hollywood cars were now stored anywhere the PE could find room. West Hollywood Yard was full and so several cars wound up stored at the 8th street freight yard. By the end of 1954, only 30 Hollywood cars remained in service, 15 to the Glendale Line and 15 to the Watts Line. When the Glendale Line closed, all 30 PCCs and the 15 Hollywood cars were stuffed into the Subway Terminal tunnel and put up for sale.
The future looked grim for the Hollywood cars, still in mint condition.
Meanwhile, things down at the Watts Line were not looking good. Metropolitan Coach Lines management did not give a damn about the remaining Southern District lines. By late 1955, the Watts Line was down to 12 serviceable cars. So it was decided to truck two Hollywood cars from the Subway to Watts before the rest of the unfortunate cars were sent to Terminal Island to be scrapped.
It just so happened that, cars 5166 and 5167 were located at the mouth of the Subway Terminal tunnel and were loaded up onto a pair of flatbed “low-boy” trucks for the trip to Watts — and as it turned out, a trip to eternity.
Also trucked to the Southern District at the same time was Line Car no. 00164 and an old wooden boxcar loaded with Hollywood car spare parts. Soon after the lucky 5166 and 5167 plus the 00164 and boxcar departed Toluca Yard, several flatbed trucks arrived to take the remaining 13 Hollywoods to slaughter.
And so, by sheer luck, the 5166 and 5167 went on to a new life on the Watts Line and then to Orange Empire Railway Museum.
The 5167 is now the sole remaining operable Hollywood car, now numbered 717. Long live this old warrior.
Ralph Cantos Collection
Also found as LAMTA 1815 in this site. Another nice b/w side view as PERy 5167: https://www.pacificelectric.org/pacific-electric/southern-district/5167-at-watts-car-house/
Wouldn’t surprise me if my father had been a regular rider on this car….used to love to point out that gone section to us where “his” red cars ran through that cut.
No one breathes life into our Pacific Electric memories like Ralph Cantos. Thank you, Ralph.
Back in 1956-57 I used to have to cross the P.E. tracks to elementary school, we lived in Compton on right down the street from the tracks used to love watching the trains go by. I sure miss the old days