Pacific Electric in Snow, January 11, 1949
By Steve Crise
Snow in Southern California has always been a big event for residents of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley and the oddity of snowfall on January 11, 1949, was no exception.
Railroad historian and photographer Ralph E. Melching, one of the founders of the Railroad Boosters and the Pacific Railroad Society braved the freezing conditions and made this wonderful image of Pacific Electric Railway car 668 headed north along Vineland Avenue. He captured the two-car train just before crossing Riverside Drive in North Hollywood. These cars were preforming their regular daily routine as scheduled in spite of the unusual weather conditions encountered in the San Fernando Valley.
To the best of our knowledge the standard gauge lines of the Pacific Electric Railway did not have in its huge equipment arsenal any snow fighting machinery. The one exception being a snowplow attachment that could be affixed to a narrow-gauge car on the Alpine Division, better known as the Mt. Lowe Railway, that ran between Echo Mountain and the Alpine Tavern.
In Ralph’s photo, Vineland Avenue still shows the P.E’s full right of way. After the abandonment of the Pacific Electric Railways’ lines in the San Fernando Valley in 1952, the tracks were removed, and the land was gobbled-up by the City of Los Angeles in order to double the number of lanes on Vineland Ave.
The Medical Arts Building seen at the left is still in use today as a medical facility although it has gone through a major upgrading since the 1949 photo was taken.
As a side note, the North Hollywood Sub-Station, a building that is still standing today in the southwest quadrant of Vineland Ave and Riverside Drive, is just out of frame to the right of the spur track and is used as a church.