Pacific Electric 680: A Remarkable Tale of Survival

By Ralph Cantos

Some ninety-five or so years after they were built, seven of the Pacific Electric Railway’s world-famous Hollywood cars survive in various stages of condition. The Orange Empire Railway Museum is home to five of the seven survivors. The 717 remains the only one of seven that is still operable. Car 655 (5094), though beautifully restored to its 1939-40 appearance, is not currently operable. The other three Hollywoods at OERM are stored in need of major restoration.

Ralph Cantos Collection

The former PE 758, sold to Buenos Aires along with 26 of her sisters in 1952 for passenger service, was converted to a line car many years ago. The other 26 Hollywood long since retired and presumed, scrapped after decades of service. The 758 is reported to be in poor condition at this time. One last car, PE 680 (5069) was sold to Portland Traction Co. in mid-1953 as their 4022 for continued passenger service.

Ralph Cantos Collection

The #680 and seven other Hollywood’s were repainted at Torrance Shops before being shipped to Portland. Sadly, their service life in Portland lasted only about 5 years.

One of the Portland Hollywoods was involved in a serious crossing accident with a log truck shortly after entering service, and was severely damaged beyond repair. Of the remaining seven cars, one car, the former PE 680 escaped scrapping and would be moved to the Oregon Electric Railway Museum, its 4 motors having been removed before being saved. After decades of storage at the Oregon museum, the severely rusted and weathered 4022 was sold to the Seashore Trolley Museum were it remains today in need of a major, multi-thousand-dollar restoration.

PE 655 on Hollywood Boulevard in 1941. Ralph Cantos Collection.

Ralph Cantos Collection

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Showing 4 comments
  • Scott Anderson
    Reply

    Great information- thanks! I have been in contact with folks at the Ferroclub Argentino, Villa Lynch campus, and learned that ex-PE 758 (line car FCGU 3758) is in inside storage and in line for a roof replacement, but isn’t high on the priority list. From recent photos I’ve seen, it looks a little rough, but far from hopeless.

  • Art Curtis
    Reply

    On the pic of 655 on Hollywood Blvd in 1941, if you look just above the 2nd & 3rd windows on the lowest window level on the right side and above the arched entrance, you will see a trolley wire overhead support eyebolt embedded in the building. That eyebolt still exists today, along with about another 52 eyebolts along Hollywood Blvd between address 7051 on the west and address 5218 on the East, that supported the overhead wires of the Hollywood Blvd line in lieu of trolley wire support poles. I have photos of them all.

  • Bob Davis
    Reply

    I’ve visited Seashore a number of times, and have found 680 under a tarp in the “off limits” storage area where casual visitors are not likely the wander. I remember seeing it in Oregon, next to the ex-SP “Red Electric” body that’s now at Orange Empire. Restoration of either of these cars is in the “I should live so long” category.

  • Al Donnelly
    Reply

    4022, and presumably kin, would be serving those last years over a line that was the very first interurban electric route in America. That beats being the Podunkville trolley.

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