PE 913: Destined for Immortality
By Ralph Cantos
This photo from the Craig A. Rasmussen Magna Collection was taken by the late Harold F. Stewart at Culver Junction in late 1940. The 913 is westbound on the evening Santa Monica Air Line run.
By this late date, almost all the mighty 800s had entered retirement and were being burned for scrap at Torrance Shops. By 1941, all the 800s were off the PE active roster. Four car bodies were donated to the Boy Scouts Of America for use as Summer mountain cabins, and five cars were converted to Express Motors and given numbers 1495 to 1499.
All the rest of the fast heavy 800s were gone as America and the PE entered World War II. The five Express Motors were retired in 1950 with one car, the 1498, being donated to the “Children Of Los Angeles” and moved to Travel Town. There the 1498 would be displayed open to the weather for almost 4 decades until the elements finally made the car unsuitable for continued display.
What was left of the 1498 was moved to OERM, but unfortunately, was destroyed in a disastrous brush fire in OERM’s “outback.” Only its trucks survived.
But this was not the end for at least one 800. Car 913, originally built as a control trailer, and later motorized with GE electrical gear in 1912, would live on. Just after retirement, the body of 913 was sold to a private party and moved to West Hollywood. There, the 913 would become part of the legendary “Formosa Café” where she still remains (in part) to this very day.
Back in the early 1960s her number was still discernible under a few coats of paint, But over the decades, her number was covered over by repeated repainting until it could no longer be recognized. And so the trucks of one 800 and the partial body of another survive more than 100 years after their construction.
Harold F. Stewart Photo, Craig A. Rasmussen Collection
Here’s a view of the carbody built into the Formosa Cafe, courtesy Google Maps Street View. Click here for a full-screen presentation.