355 Headed North on Western Avenue

By Steve Crise

This recently acquired print, dated February 1938, shows Pacific Electric Birney Car no. 355 headed north on Western Avenue moments away from turning left on to Franklin Ave near Griffith Park. The car will continue west on Franklin Ave where it will head south on Argyle Avenue to Yucca Street, continue for one block west and then turn left onto Vine Street where the line terminates.

The Western & Franklin Line dates all the way back to Pasadena & Pacific days in 1895 when eastern portions of this line were originally constructed as a 3 foot-6 inch narrow gauge line. Trackage from Western Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard were constructed by the Los Angeles Pacific in 1908. This was also built as a narrow gauge line but rebuilt as a standard gauge line a month after completion.

The Pacific Electric took over this line in 1911 as part of the Great Merger. There were numerous schedule changes to this line throughout the years. Perhaps the most interesting change was on July 4, 1924, when service was suspended due to a power shortage and bus service was temporarily established on a portion of the line. Full rail service resumed once again on January 2, 1925, almost seven months after its suspension.

Another unusual line connected with the Western & Franklin Line, this being the Brush Canyon Line. The Brush Canyon Line connected with the rest of the system at Franklin Avenue at N. Bronson Ave. This line was also originally built as a narrow gauge line by Los Angeles Pacific in 1908 and was standard gauged at the same time the Western & Franklin Line was. This line had a very brief passenger service history starting with the LAP in 1913 and ending with the PE in 1917. However this line was very important to both the LAP and the PE for the access to the Brush Canyon Quarry that was at the north end of the line. Rock from this quarry rolled down Bronson in wooden gondola cars and was used to pave Sunset Boulevard, Highland Avenue, Adams Boulevard, W. 6th Street and Wilshire Boulevard. A few photos of the Brush Canyon Quarry have surfaced in later years but I have yet to see a photo of a Pacific Electric or Los Angeles Pacific car anywhere on the Brush Canyon Line.

Also rare are photos of cars on the Western & Franklin Line, which is why were so happy to be able to share this image with you of PE 355 at Western and Franklin. As an extra feature, we’ve included a photo of an actual dash sign from the Western & Franklin Line courtesy of the Craig Rasmussen collection. The dashes sign provides a nice glimpse into the color and style that the PE employed on all their equipment throughout the system.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Al Donnelly

    I guess for reference we should point out that Immaculate Heart College lies just out of view to the left (N.W. corner and uphill stretch). The road ahead goes to Los Feliz Drive, heading east towards Glendale passing Ferndell and other park entries. I believe a Chevron station remained at the right forever (still there?). To the very left, I think “Market Basket” opened a giant supermarket (cotton candy & clowns grand opening) about the late 60’s…a flower store should be here near the streets too. Changes never stop where the PE once roamed.

  • Craig A. Rasmussen

    Re: PE 355 Photo by Ernest M. Leo. The original negative & the copyright belongs to Craig A. Rasmussen. I do not mind the image being used, but proper credit needs to be displayed for the photographer & the owner.

  • Al Donnelly

    Thanks for clarifications. Always good form to note those facts, regardless even of copyrights held. And let me personally thank you for all members for graciously sharing your image collections!

  • James D Johnson

    Interesting for me as I am assuming the Brush Canyon quarry possibly is what has been a long used movie location called Bronson Cave. I think in one episode of the Lone Ranger it was the source of his silver bullets. Played there as a kid many times

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