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Lines Of The Northern District

 Throughout most of its existance, the PE divided itself into three main divisions for ease and efficiency of operation. These were the Northern District, the Southern District and the Western District. Each district was physically semi-independent of the others and might be said to constitute an electric railway system in its own right.

 Of these three divisions, the Northern District was first to open, first to close, and the largest throughout most of its history. It sprawled from Los Angeles to Redlands — from Ye Alpine Tavern to Corona — totaling approximately 400 miles of trackage divided into 33 separate lines; compare this with the Southern District (400 miles, 17 lines) and the Western (260 miles, 12 lines). These figures are for December, 1916 when PE sent out 6200 electric trains daily over 1061 miles of track. The Northern District took its place at the head of this great rail system from the very start; in 1914, for instance, the comparison was as follows:

Pacific Electric Lines, 1914
Northern807 trains1098 cars daily
Southern424 trains598 cars daily
Western395 trains566 cars daily

 Even in 1948, when the end was drawing near, the five remaining interurban lines of the Northern District carried 42.64% of the total passengers carried on all interurban lines of the PE.

 Yes, the North was distinctive and had a character all its own. It shared the 6th & Main Station with the Southern District, but it had its own shops at Macy Street capable of performing all but the very heaviest repairs on cars and locomotives; it had the unique box-motor terminal at the Union Passenger Station; it had State Street Yards, one of the heaviest freight points on the PE; it had PE's only 1200 volt line which also was PE's longest and fastest line; it had the highest of all PE bridges, and the most massive bridge; it had the wonderful Mount Lowe Line, which took the traveler up through the clouds to enjoy a never-to-be-forgotton vacation; it featured staff operation over the tracks of a steam railroad; and it included numerous city systems, each operated within its own tiny world as a separate microcosm. Today all this has gone and remnants we still have are devoted to diesel locomotives wheeling freight cars. But the old glory is still there if one will but look for it — and that is the purpose of this work.

Henry E. Huntington:
 When Henry E. Huntington purchased the Los Angeles & Pasadena Electric Railway in 1898 (South Pasadena Line), he obtained a foothold in the rich San Gabriel Valley which he was not slow in exploiting to the utmoStreet Within three years, the now—familliar form of the Northern District began to take shape. Built together with in 1902 were the Alhambra and Pasadena Short Lines; when they were completed, the gangs of laborers were transfered to the Monrovia Line and it was completed in 1903. Between then and 1910 the Sierra Madre Line, the Oak Knoll Line, the Sierra Vista Local Line, the Covina Line, the Annandale Line, and numerous local lines were constructed, each to the highest standards prevailing. So it was that the lush, beautiful San Gabriel Valley was criss-crossed by lines of the Huntington System. By 1910 it was virtually impossible to get beyond the sound of the red cars' whistles.

 Huntington, shrewd as they come, reaped a double profit. Before building his interurban lines, he purchased large acreages of the most desirable land. Then came his electric line into that city — and his subdivisions opened as regularly and profitably as his red car lines. Clearly did he understand the tie-in between subdividing vacant land and providing speedy, economical transportation to Los Angeles. The communities of El Sereno, Sierra Vista, Oneonta Park, El Molino, San Marino and others were brought into existance by Huntington — while older cities such as Alhambra, South Pasadena, Pasadena, Altadena, Monrovia and Glendora were awakened and stimulated to new heights of growth and commercial importance because of Huntinton's big red cars.

 The development of the private automobile and good roads brought about a state of affairs which Huntington could not have forseen. Additional grade crossings and traffic congestion cut down the speed of the red trains; communities imposed local speed restrictions on them; gradually the red cars were throttled by settlements they had brought into being. As their speed was cut down, the attraction of the private auto grew. It was a vicious circle, and the PE was the loser.

 Business steadily dwindled, and as money grew scarce, track maintenance was deferred and rolling stock was not kept up to date. As early as June, 1937, PE sought permission to abandon rail service to Pasadena, replacing it with motor coaches running on the Arroyo Seco Parkway. This application and others were held in abeyance for several years; World War II caused the State Railroad Commission to dismiss them. However, PE did succeed in abandoning rail service between Los Angeles and Alhambra, San Gabriel and Temple City in November, 1941, and the San Bernardino Line lost rail passenger service beyond Corona at the same time.

 The War brought about improved traffic conditions, but immediately after the war ended, passenger patronage began a steady continuous decline. By 1949 the situation became intolerable and PE asked permission to abandon all rail passenger service on the Northern District. Before so doing, PE investigated three possible courses:

  1. Rehabilitating rail passenger service with PCC cars and major track improvements.
  2. Instituting a rail shuttle service between 6th & Main Station and Sierra Vista, there transferring passengers to motor coaches.
  3. Complete bus substitution.

 The first proposal called for 101 PCC cars at a cost of $40,000 each. Rail facilities at Main Street Station would have to be expanded, two additional tracks would be required from Valley Junction to Indian Village, Macy Street Shops would have had to be enlarged, and certain other lesser improvements accomplished. To bring trackage up to PCC standards would have required almost $3 millions alone. Altogether this proposal would have cost $9,356,000 which PE claimed it did not have, nor could it borrow such a large amount.

 The second proposal was considered seriously for a time. Motor coach routes were laid out, operating schedules prepared for both rail and motor coach lines, and financial estimates were prepared. The results of the analysis indicated that this shuttle operation would in a net annual operating loss of $90,000. The big advantage of this plan would have been to cut down the number of units operating in the streets of the congested metropolitan district, especially during the peak periods, but this advantage was considered to be outweighed by the relative inconvenience to passengers destined beyond Sierra Vista.

 The third proposal was thereupon decided as the logical choice, even though it meant abandoning facilites having an estimated ledger value of approximately $5 millions.

 The Public Utilities Commission and other regulatory bodies granted PE permission to abandon rail passenger service on the Sierra Madre Line, the Baldwin Park Line and the Oak Knoll Line in 1950; the abandonments were accomplished in October of that year. The remaining lines continued to operate (using one-man 5050 Class cars on the Pasadena Short Line and Sierra Vista Line) until September 30, 1951 when they were replaced by motor coaches. The State precipitated the latter abandonment by preempting Aliso Street in Los Angeles for a freeway project; PE claimed it was unable to bear its share of the cost of relocating its tracks.

 Trackage on San Pedro Street (Los Angeles) from Sixth Street to Fourth Street and between Valley Junction and Indian Village for freight use. Removal of rails on Abandoned lines was accomplished in 1952.

  FURTHER EAST At the eastern end of PE's Northern District were those lines east of Upland. For the sake of convenience, we have included the Pomona City Lines and the San Dimas Shuttle line, plus the Pomona-Claremont-Upland Line. PE headquarters in the east was located at San Bernardino, with an Assistant Superintendent in charge. As of 1916, this region compared with PE's other districts as follows: Northern: 279.41 miles 22 lines Southern: 402.85 " 17 lines Western: 257.50 " 12 lines Eastern: 121.87 " 11 lines TOTAL: 1061.63 " 62 lines

HISTORY: Electric traction in the Orange Empire of Southern California centered about three nuclei: San Bernardino-Redlands, Riverside, and Pomona. Each of these areas enjoyed well-developed electric railway service before the Great Merger of 1911.

The San Bernardino-Redlands group of lines was controlled by the San Bernardino Valley Traction Company, although an independent company operated one line in Redlands (Redlands Central Railway).  The Riverside situation was controlled by the Riverside & Arlington Railway, which had been a Huntington enterprise since 1903. An independent company built the line from Riverside to Rialto (Crescent City Railway Company) but R&A under agreement, provided all passenger service over the line.

 Pomona was an Old PE operation, as was the San Dimas shuttle, An independent company, the Ontario & San Antonio Heights Railway, owned and operated two lines: Ontario-San Antonio Heights, and Ontario-Pomona.

 It is not our intention at this time to delve into the pre"-1"911 histories of these lines. We will devote our attention mainly to the lines after they became a part of the far-flung PE rail empire. Only a cursory history is outlined to enable readers to appreciate properly the origins of these once-important passenger routes.

 The eastern lines were formed on 30 August 1913 by merging the San Bernardino and the Riverside Divisions, which had been created on 30 September 1911 (Pomona was included in the Riverside Division). This was coincidental with the linking up of the Riverside system with the San Bernardino system at Colton-West Highgrove. Superintendent Groftholdt was ably assisted by Assistant Superintendent C.H. Belt—and business was centered at the SP-Pacific Electric Station, in San Bernardino; additional space was added to the old SP depot to accommodate the new electric railway administrative offices.
 Without the population density enjoyed by the other Districts, the Eastern District was handicapped in the battle against automobiles and busses. It is not surprising, then, to find that many of the lines of this District were abandoned comparatively early. Without taking into consideration apportioned items of cost such as superintendence, practically all of these lines were operated either at an actual loss to PE or with a very small margin of profit. It is said on good authority that none of the Redlands lines save Smiley Height ever showed a profit!
 To combat the downward trend, PE installed Birney cars in 1918 in Pomona, Riverside, Redlands and San Bernardino. In 1920 the traditional fare of 5 cents went up to 6 cents. This was all in vain, and the excuse of a power shortage in 1924 enabled PE to cut many lines. 1925 saw more go, including all city lines in Pomona. One by one other lines followed, culminating in the final abandonment of Riverside service in 1943.

FACILITIES: Substations in the east were: No. 22-North Pomona, 23-Etiwanda, 47-Rialto, 27-Riverside, 48-Corona, 24-San Bernardino, 25-Arrowhead, and 26-Redlands. All local lines were 600 volts except the following which were 1200: Ontario-San Antonio Heights, and San Dimas Shuttle, and Pomona-Claremont-Upland east of North Pomona. Line cars used were 00157 and 00162 after 1916.

 Car houses and capacities were: Redlands (4), Riverside (4), Pomona (4), San Bernardino 'E' Street (4), San Bernardino Third Street (4), all as of 1912. The small shops at Riverside and at San Bernardino were capable of overhauling one car each per month. The erection of the new San Bernardino Shops in 1918 focused all maintenance and light repair work there; heavy repairs required the 600-volt cars to be transported to Torrance Shops on flat cars.

 We acknowledge the valuable aid extended by Messrs. Marler and Stevens of PE who made company records available for our use. Other data came from files of the California Public Utilities Commission, the Electric Railway Journal and Ira Sweet.

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