5167 at Watts Car House
The saga of PE #717 / #5167: PE #5167 is seen here at Watts Car House shortly after its arrival from the Western District in March of 1956. By January of 1955, only about 30 Hollywood cars were still active. About 15 “low 5100’s” were assigned to the Watts line (numbers 5111 to 5125, all older 600s) and the cream of the remaining crop, the “high 5100s,” were assigned to the Glendale / Burbank line (numbers 5153 to 5168 — all Brill 1925 700s).
From Ralph Cantos:
When the Glendale / Burbank lie was abandoned on 6-19-55, all the 30 PCCs and the 15 Hollywood cars were shoved into the Subway tunnel in one continuous 45-car coupled train. The train was now stored on the outbound track. The inbound track was removed within a few months of abandonment. The PCCs were at the “deep end” of the train, with the Hollywood cars located at the front of the line just inside the portal at Toluca Yard. It was reasoned that the Hollywood cars had no future, and were destined for Terminal Island. Hollywood’s #5166 & #5167 were at the head of the line just inside the portal. Whomever was in charge of rail operations for Metropolitan Coach Lines, seeing this last chance to bolster the “fleet” of shabby 5100s on the Watts line, requested that 2 of the “high 5100s” at the Subway be sent over to the Southern District via flatbed truck along with the Western District line car #00164. So it was, that in February of 1956, the first 2 Hollywood cars in the “dead line” — numbers #5166 and #5167 — were winched out of the Subway, and trucked away for continued service on the Watts line. The 2 cars had cheated the scrappers torch , at least for the time being. The remaining 13 mint-condition “high 5100s” were trucked off to Terminal Island and scrapped. When the Watts line was abandoned in November of 1960, rail fan Walter Abbenseth purchased 5 Hollywood cars from the LAMTA. One car, LAMTA #1805 (PE #633 / #5116) was scrapped at OERM for parts to keep the other 4 cars #5112, #5123, #5166, and #5167 in good operating condition . The #5167 would become today’s legendary #717 of OERM. The trucks from #1805 would later find their way under PE #655 now on static display at OERM. And as the late Paul Harvey would say “and now you know the rest of the story.”
Ralph Cantos Collection
If you look on page 52 of ALLEN COPELAND’s book,Pacific Electric in Color Volune 2, you will see a beautiful photo taken by Ray Ballash showing the “lucky” cars #5166, #5167. tool car #0080, and Tower Car 00164 waiting for the flat bed trucks that will carry them away to the safety of the Southern District. The 15 Hollywood cars used on the Glendale / Burbank line were in much better condition and better maintained, then the cars on the WATTS line for what could only be discribed as “obvious reasons”. The survival of #5166 and #5167 was a miracle.
I’ve seen that photo. Its a shame that more of these Hollywood cars couldn’t be saved.
5167 is on the front page of today’s (12 March 2013) L. A. Times. It’s shown coming out of the Subway tunnel with another 5050 heading into the Subway. I thing the photo is by Donald Duke. Back in its original number, 717, and its pre-1938 paint job, this car is running regularly at Orange Empire. The Times article is about an historical lecture in San Marino, given by a long-time southern Californian who remembers both the Red Cars and the Yellow Cars.