LATL 1444: “Repurposed”

By Ralph Cantos

When the first Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (Many Trolley Abandonments) assumed control of transit operations in the City Of Los Angeles, job number one was to begin planning for the eventual destruction of ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that operated on steel wheels.

The first order of business was to re-number the surviving ex-Pacific Electric Blimps and Hollywood cars from fleet numbers 300-400 and 5100 numbers respectively, into 1500-1700 and 1800 numbers. The plan was to scrap everything numbered below the 2000-class range (which were assigned to GM interurban buses at that time).

The LATL PCCs retained their 3001 to 3165 numbers, a false sense of optimism for LA railfans. The 34 H-3s and a handful of H-4s (numbers 1416-1450 and 12 & 1300s) then in service at the time of the “insurrection,” were immediately consigned to scrap. H-class car no. 1448 had been retired some years earlier. Reverse loops were build at both ends of the S line for the replacement PCCs and by September 1958, all the H-class cars were gone. Scrap value of the H-class cars was about $250 as compared to $2500 for PE’s beautiful PCCs that had been sold at about the same time. H-class cars 1423, 1435, and 1450 were saved and moved to OERM.

The 1444 headed for a different “situation.” It wound up on a miniature golf course at 190th and Figueroa Streets.

The new owners stripped the interior of the 1444 of all seats and sadly, the two bulkheads, all done to make room for a bank of several pinball machines. The removal of the bulkheads severly compromised the structural integrity of the 1444 and her condition began a slow but steady decline.

The golf course closed after about six years of operation. The 1444 had deteriorated to a point of no return. OERM members removed anything of value from the now-hopeless 1444 and what was left of her was “hauled off to the dump” by its owners. The 1444 would join its sisters in trolley heaven.

I took this photo with my little KODAK 620 box camera in 1961. She was still in decent shape, but the coming years would not be kind to the 1444 and her came slowly but surely.

Ralph Cantos Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

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Showing 8 comments
  • Bob Davis

    The trucks and some other mechanical parts were salvaged by OETM volunteers. Same thing happened to Huntington Standard 536 in Travel Town; the body was already weakened by rot and termites, and the final blow was when a tree fell on it. I have photos of this salvage operation, which was in the mid to late 1970s. My Ford pickup, DN 115, hauled some of the pieces out to OERM.

  • Bob Fried

    I remember “discovering” that car. Outside of OERM it was the only H I’d ever seen. Later in the Army in Seoul I got to ride one… A great treat!

  • Doug Stewart

    Looks like 1435 just returned to OERM earlier this year. I found it under a tarp downtown LA next to the Subway Terminal building and was wondering what it’s outcome would be. Unfortunately it’s facing the fate as 1444

    • Pacific Electric

      How do you mean, Doug? – Ed.

  • Ralph Cantos

    The #1435 will be scrapped for parts at OERM. The parts from the #1435 will join parts in stock saved from the #1444 many years ago..

  • Gary Starre

    My report of 1435’s body being scrapped may have been premature. Now there is talk of using it as a second birthday party venue. OERM also uses a stationary Santa Fe caboose in that fashion. 1435 still has one if its two bulkheads, and presumably some interior shoring could provide the structure in place of the one that is missing.

  • steven struman

    1435 was already a mess, having sat for a few years in Lake Tahoe in the open.The gentleman up there had a collection of retired Muni 1100’s, also 1435 was there. I know it was there for at least 5 years. I remember seeing it also in the old Subway Bldg behind fence as I had to use the parking lot when I worked downtown for Summit Riser Systems. I KNOW THE ROOF HAD BEEN REPLACED but the rest was a mess. I was not surprised when I saw its picture at OERM. I hope Gary is right, it would make a great Birthday Car.

  • Al Donnelly

    Sadly amusing! George Pullman would be spinnin’ in the grave over the idea of the world’s only “Pinball Parlor” Car. Or perhaps with that mast and pennant arangement, the “H.M.S. Pin-‘o-Four”.

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Ralph Cantos CollectionAlan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection