Pacific Electric No. 742: A Visitor From The Valley

By Ralph Cantos

As was always the case on New Years Day on the PE, it was “all hands and cars on deck.”

New Years Day 1940 was no exception. With the exception of the 100s (and, later, the PCCs), just about every class of PE’s vast assortment of interurban and suburban cars put in an appearance on the Northern District to handle the deluge of passengers headed to the Rose Parade.

Even the trusty fixtures of the Venice Short Line, the handsome 950s, would head to Pasadena.

The Valley Sevens were no exception to the migration of “out-of-towers” called upon for Rose Parade duty. In this photo taken on New Years Day 1940, Western District no. 742 heads up a three-car train as it rolls along the Northern District’s “4 track main line.”

Compared to the other as-yet-to-be-modernized Hollywood cars (nos. 600 to 734), the Valley Sevens were real speedsters. As built, the Hollywood cars had a breathtaking top speed of 28 miles per hour. You would have to drive a wooden stake into the ground with fluttering white flag next to an unmodernized Hollywood car to see if it was actually moving. The Valley Sevens could clip along at brisk 45 mph, so the passengers aboard this train will arrive at the Rose Parade in record time.

This would be the Valley Sevens’ final event in this configuration. All 15 Valley Sevens were modernized into the new “Butterfly” paint scheme in late 1940. The rest of the Hollywood cars were brought up to Valley Seven performance standards as part of the modernization program.

In later years, the 742 would become a fixture of the Northern District. With the September 1951 destruction of the Northern District by foolish freeway construction, the 742 and 27 of its sister Hollywood cars would head for Buenos Aires for further service where they would have a long and prosperous career.

Northern District passengers would have to settle for slow, pokey replacement bus service in the name of progress…yeah right!

Ralph Cantos Collection

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Showing 5 comments
  • Eriks Garsvo

    great write up!liked the part of the breathtaking top speed of 28 miles per hour! haha.
    Have a question why were they called Valley Sevens? and the paint scheme in this photo is from where? was this done by PE and later as you say painted into the Butterfly paint scheme?

  • Ralph Cantos

    PE was under the gun to retire all of their wooden interurbans by 1940, 131 800’s , 50 950’s, and 57 1000’s. The 800’s were the oldest and a fixture of the San Fernando Vally lines, so they were retired first. The PE speeded up 15 700’s (735-749) gave them a flashy new paint job (red / cream / black trim) big roof mounted destanation signs (taken from about to be retired 800’s) and put then in service. Because they were for the San Fernando Valley line only, the 15 cars became known as “Valley Sevens”. they ran as Valley Sevens for about 3 years.

  • Eriks Garsvo

    aww very interesting thanks for the info! I hope to make it down to California here early next summer and meet with Steve Crise and visit some of the remaining PE ROW. and get back out to Orange Empire and take a better look at the cars out there.

  • Jorge Garcia

    This photos shows the PE Red Car going east on Huntington Drive in historic El Sereno, right before crossing Eastern Ave. You can see Ascot Hills in the background. El Sereno had one of only two four-track system in the PE. That’s why Huntington Drive in El Sereno is so wide. Great picture!

  • Robert Anderson

    The 950s (then numbered in the 700s) were no strangers. They were once trusty fixtures of the lines to Pasadena.

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Los Angeles Examiner photo, Charles Wherry Collection