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Although built after the Alhambra and Pasadena Short Lines, the Monrovia Line was the actual physical backbone of the Northern District (excepting those lines which diverged at or before Valley Junction.). It was built well, for before Huntington favored the old right-of-way of the San Garbriel Valley Rapid Transit, the Monrovia Line was the leading contender for the distinction of being the Los Angeles end of the through line to San Bernardino and possible objectives beyond.
Of the PE lines which turned north at Valley Junction., the Monrovia Line was the most "interurbanish" of them all; not only was it the longest of these lines, but it enjoyed opportunities for longer stretches of fast running.
The line had at least two unusual features which gained it wide publicity: the old and the new Santa Anita Racetracks were erected on the old Baldwin Ranch near Arcadia and PE Monrovia trains were joined by special trains which carried thousands to see the ponies run; and then there was the Great Bridge over the San Gabriel River, just west of Azusa which will receive due attention subsequently.
ROUTE: From 6th & Main Station, LA, the line followed the Terminal District to Valley Junction, 3.31 miles. There it followed a double-track line to Indian Village, 4.62 miles (all mileage is from 6th & Main), where a four-track system began, continuing through Sierra Vista (7.60 miles) where the Alhambra Line and the Sierra Vista diverged, through Oneonta Park (8.45 miles) where the Pasadena Short Line turned north, and ending at El Molino (9.98 miles). At this point the Oak Knoll Line turned north. From El Molino the line continued as a double track line to San Marino (11.33 miles) where the Sierra Madre Line jointed, then on to Arcadia (16.28 Miles), Monrovia (17.89), Azusa (23.27) and Glendora (26.07). In later years, a single track only was used between Shamrock Avenue in Monrovia and East Duarte. After 1938 single track only was used from west end of Great Bridge over San Gabriel River to Azusa substation. Between Pasadena Avenue, Azusa, and end of line in Glendora the line was always single track.
This line was on private way from Mission Road, LA, to Glendora, although short stretches of street running were encountered in Arcadia, Monrovia and Azusa. From a point just north of Indian Village to Arcadia the line was in center strip between the twin boulevards of Huntington Drive.
HISTORY: A double-track standard gauge electric railway was built in 1902 from LA to Alhambra-San Gabriel. In November 1902 this line was continued from Alhambra Junction (Sierra Vista) to Oneonta Park. In 1903 it was further extended as a double track line to Huntington Drive, Arcadia, and as a single track line from that point to Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia; from that point it became a double track line again, continuing to the station in Monrovia at Myrtle Avenue The first through train from LA to Monrovia operated on March 1, 1903 making the 17.5 miles in 53 minutes with a 50 cent round trip fare charged.
Construction further eastward was delayed somewhat. The first car reached Azusa in mid-November, 1907, and Glendora was reached the following month. To cross the San Gabriel River (between Rivas and Azusa), Huntington had to construct the Great Bridge, an engineering marvel of its day.
In 1917 PE contemplated extending the line from Glendora to Lone Hill where it would connect with the LA-San Bernardino Line; after all rights-of-way had been obtained, PE was refused permission to built the line by the State Railroad Commission on the grounds it would unjustly compete with the Santa Fe.
Prior to World War II PE and the Railroad Commission looked with favor upon the idea of abandoning rail passenger service east of Monrovia, due to extremely light patronage between Monrovia and Glendora. The upsurge of war traffic saved the line for the duration, but from 1946 onward, an almost continuous decline in number of revenue passengers handled per month set in.
PE applied to abandon the M-G Line rail passenger service, permission was given, and the last car rolled out of LA at 12:40 AM September 30, 1951. It was an SC-ERA special, car 5078
OPERATION: As of 1949, PE operated 40 trains to Monrovia, of which 24 continued to Glendora; 38 trains left Monrovia for LA, of which 24 originated at Glendora and 14 at Monrovia (these figures apply to daily except Saturdays and Sundays schedules). This furnished Monrovia with 30" service and Glendora with 60" service during the base period; during the AM rush Monrovia got 15" service, Glendora 30"; the PM peak saw Monrovia get 10"-2"0" headway, Glendora 30"; at night all trains operated through to Glendora on a 40-70" headway. Running times for these four periods to Monrovia were 57", 54", 60", and 48", with Glendora runs needing 20" more. 18 cars were required in the two peaks, with 5 needed in the base period and 4 at night; 16 1l00s and two 1200s were assigned to the run.
Average speed fluctuated from 17.9 mph in the evening rush to 23.3 mph at night. These cars were stored at Macy Street in LA, at Shamrock Avenue in Monrovia, and at Glendora.
Automatic block signals governed trains from Aliso Street Viaduct, LA, to Oneonta Park. On single track, the Shamrock Avenue E. Duarte segment was governed by two single-light circuit blocks with light circuit switches located at Shamrock Avenue, Day & Night Spur, and East Duarte; the single track from west end of Great Bridge and Azusa, and Azusa Substation and between Pasadena Avenue, Azusa and Glendora was controlled by absolute-permissive automatic block signals.
The Shamrock Ave.-East Duarte portion of the line was originally double track, but in 1941 the inbound track between these points west removed from service and that portion of it in the Shamrock Avenue area was used for car storage. Midway through this stretch of single track was the Day & Night Spur, so named because it served the factory of the Day & Night Water Heater Company; trains made numerous meets at this spur, with the inbound train using the spur to clear, being careful not to operate beyond trolley wire which extended for only 150 feet from spur.
The spur track leading from outbound main line track east of Huntington Drive, Arcadia, to Day & Night Water Heater plant in Monrovia (2.6 miles) was formerly a portion of the SP Duarte Branch Line and was purchased by PE in 1942; this spur was not electrified and was used for freight only.
Trains cutting off trailer cars at Shamrock Avenue, after securing possession of light circuit, pulled onto single track before the trailer was cut off. The crew on the trailer car immediately pulled through the crossover onto the inbound track. If a delay occurred in trailers' clearing the main track, protection had to be made.
The normal position of switches at Valley Junction., Sierra Vista, and San Marino was for the Monrovia-Glendora Line.
Yard limits were defined by yard limit signs at the following stations: Valley Junction., Sierra Vista, San Marino, Arcadia.
At Indian Village, a block signal was in use at a point approximately 500 feet in advance of the switch to the outbound local track; this was an absolute signal and the block signal preceding this signal was an operating distance signal.
Protection was not required while taking crossover at East Duarte; the motormen on inbound trains were required to operate under control during the last 300 feet before reaching the crossover at E. Duarte.
The M-G Line used the inside tracks of the four-track system between Indian Village and EL Molino, running "limited" between these points.
EQUIPMENT: The Old PE 300 Class (800 Class) opened the Monrovia Line, and continued to serve the line for 21 years, In 1924 the 1100s took over, running until 1951 when they were replaced by the 732-759 Class with some 5050s running also as two-man cars. In the years of their tenure, the 1100s were aided by 1300s, 1200s and after 1945 by cars of the 4600 Class; the latter (as 400s) took over Sunday and holiday service in 1948-49; the M-G Line was the only Northern District line on which PE operated its 400s.
SANTA ANA SERVICE: The original Santa Anita Racetrack was located on the opposite side of the M-G Line in Arcadia from where the present track is located; PE had a spur into the old track's grounds and carried passengers to and from the old track in special trains. With the outlawing of horse racing in California in 1908 the old racetrack closed forever, although PE made money during World War I hauling soldiers to the balloon school operated on the site by the US Army. This spur track was removed in 1913"-1"9 and 1928.
When horse racing was again legal, the new Santa Anita racetrack was constructed, close to PE's M-G Line. A spur track was built into the grounds for horse cars, but patrons of PE had a fairly long walk from the new Santa Anita station to the grandstand. From its opening day (Christmas, 1934), Santa Anita furnished PE with a sizeable passenger traffic; special trains were operated as needed, with all classes of interurban cars being used---indeed, the venerable 456-465 saw their last service as Santa Anita race trains. The race specials were stored on sidings northerly of Huntington Drive, Arcadia, and on one of the two main tracks if necessary. About 100,000 passengers were carried during the average meet, the trip from 6th & Main Station requiring 35 minutes and selling for 50 cents per round trip. Three and four car trains were employed, making a happy sight as they bowled along beside hopelessly jumbled automotive traffic, creeping bumper-to-bumper along Huntington Drive.
FREIGHT OPERATION: The M-G Line was the second most important freight line on the Northern District, being exceeded only be the San Bernardino Line. It ranked ninth on the entire PE system. The movement of freight on the
M-G Line consisted mainly of perishables which were interchanged with connecting roads at LA.
Due to the Monrovia ordinance prohibiting the operation of freight trains through that city between the hours of 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM, the daily (except Sunday) freight train ran at night, leaving Glendora at ll:00 PM, collecting freight on the Glendora, Sierra Madre and Alhambra Lines, hauling it to State Street Yard, and then handling outbound loads for these same lines---finally tieing up at Glendora at 7:00 AM.
Most freight hauled was bridged to and from LA with very little originating on the line and destined for points on the line.
Daily express and mail service was furnished except Sundays. The combination car left 6th & Main Station at 11:00 AM and returned at 3:50 PM.
PE retained its freight business on this line after that portion of trackage between Arcadia and LA was abandoned and torn up; a new connection between the M-G Line and the San Bernardino Line was constructed from Crushton to Rivas, 2.82 miles, at a cost of $436,000. First train over this connection ran on September 17, 1951, hauled by diesel 1327. Thereafter, the M-G Line became known as PE's Azusa Branch and was operated on a switching service basis, using Crushton Yard as its headquarters.
PE handled an average of 100 carloads of race horses during each Santa Anita season. These were usually set out on the racetrack siding within one hour after being received. Box motors were frequently used to haul the horse cars. Ten horse cars could be handled at one time at the loading dock. After the abandonment of passenger service (September 30, 1951) and the subsequent removal of the tracks past Santa Anita, a new horse unloading facility was constructed 200 feet north of HUntington Drive, Arcadia; this marks the westernmost extend of the Azusa Branch.
TRAFFIC TREND: 1913: 1,078,247 PASSENGERS
1918: 865,992 "
1923: 990,729 "
1933: 561,396 "
Best Year 1945: 2,730,816 "
1948: 2,137,432 "
TRACK: Trackage used by the M-G Line between Oneonta Park and Glendora is listed by weight of rail and year laid.
SECTION: Weight Year
Oneonta-El Molino Main Track 90 1945
" " Local " 60-90* 1910*
El Molino-Holly Avenue 60 1903
Holly Ave-AT&SF Crossing 60 1903
AT&SF"-2"nd Avenue, Arcadia 75 1925
2nd Ave.-Mayflower Avenue, Monrovia 60-70* 1904
Mayflower Ave.-Monrovia Station 75 1926
Monrovia Station-Shamrock Avenue 70 1907
Shamrock Ave.-Angeleno Avenue, Azusa 70 1907
Angeleno-Pasadena Avenue, Azusa 75 1923
*Outbound local track
Inbound " on Wilson Avenue 70 1910
" " Wilson-El Molino 75 1929
*Outbound, 2nd Ave.-Mayflower 60 1904
Inbound " " " 70 1904
At Santa Anita Station, 550-feet of 990 lb. rail was laid in 1945 and tracks paved in.
Most of the above listed trackage was original rail and by 1949 was in very poor shape, being badly surface bent, badly out of line and surface with many low joints. It was estimated in 1949 that the total cost of putting this line (Oneonta-Glendora) in good shape (90-lb. rail, new ties and ballast) would cost $1,046,846.
FACILITIES: There were three station buildings on this line; they were located at Monrovia, Azusa, and Glendora. All were of the PE standard frame type and contained a passenger ticket office and waiting room, agent's office, and a freight room. They were constructed shortly after the line was extended to the respective towns, and cost at that time about $5,000 apiece. Each had a small freight yard with house tracks.
There were two substations on this line; Arcadia Substation (No 7), rebuilt 1922 of brick, contained one 1000 kw rotary converter and was automatic in operation; Azusa Substation (No. 19), built in 1909 of brick, had one 1000 kw rotary converter and one 400 kw motor generator set and was also automatic.
The M-G Line crossed two steam railroads at grade, and both crossings were controlled by interlockings. At Marengo Avenue in South Pasadena the four-track system crossed the Pasadena Branch of the Southern Pacific; in 1907 a mechanical interlocking plant tower was constructed at this crossing; in 1931 the Marengo interlocking was connected for electrical operation from nearby Oneonta interlocking plant and the old tower and its antiquated mechanical interlocker was removed. At Arcadia the M-G Line crossed the main line of the Santa Fe; the Arcadia interlocking installation was staffed by Santa Fe personnel on a 24-hour basis with costs allocated on an agreed basis. A General Railways electrical interlocker system was used, the facilities having been set up in 1919. Both the PE M-G Line and the PE Duarte ranch (which crossed Santa Fe about a block away) were controlled from the Arcadia Tower.
Two bridges were features of a the M-G Line. At Eaton Wash a double-track steel structure spanned this normally dry wash, and near Rivas the Great Bridge (Puente Largo) took trains over the wide San Gabriel River. The Great Bridge was one of the most impressive structures on the entire PE system. A reinforced concrete structure 1019' long, it was built in 1907 "so strong that the heaviest train in the world can pass over in perfect safety and without taxing the bridge to anything like its capacity." It had 18 spans, each 57' long; these hung 50' in the clear and were supported on piers sunk into the river bed some 15 feet. There were seventeen piers, each 12' thick and 30' wide at the bottom and 7' thick and 26' wide at the top; these had a height of 19'. The extreme width of the bridge was 26', permitting the laying of a double track its entire length. 8000 cubic yards of concrete, 10,000 barrels of cement; and 250 tons of steel were used. Trolley poles were held in slots on the outer edge of the bridge parapets; -the poles were firmly wedged in place and could easily be removed when due for replacement. After digesting the above figures, out readers doubtless will appreciate the enthusiasm of a contemporary newspaper editor who, after inspecting the Great Bridge, wrote that here was no ordinary interurban bridge but a major structure destined to be a link in a coast-to-coast electric railway. For 30 years the Great Bridge withstood the fiercest floods the river threw at it, but in 1938 the Great Bridge and the Great Flood met; so tremendous was the fury of the waters that three of the massive piers were undermined and toppled. The rebuilding saw the three missing spans replaced by a single-track steel structure; this led to the outbound track's being removed from Rivas to Vernon Avenue in Azusa.
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