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Pasadena Oak Knoll Line

W PASADENA OAK KNOLL LINE The Pasadena via Oak Knoll Line was one of PE's most profitable lines during the major share of its existence. Undoubtedly it was one of the least expensive to build, for it was brought into existence by constructing a double-track connection between El Molino station on the Monrovia-Glendora Line and the intersection of California St. and Lake Ave. in Pasadena, a distance of about two miles. From California and Lake, the Oak Knoll interurbans followed city car tracks on Lake to Colorado St., thence on Colorado to Fair Oaks and the car house.

The Oak Knoll Line could not compete with the Pasadena Short Line for through business due to its greater length and longer running time(13.81 miles versus. 11.37, 57 minutes versus. 43 minutes off-peak average). Nevertheless, Oak Knoll served a well built up residential district all its own, as well as performing all local service on the four-track trunk system between El Molino and Sierra Vista. As a result, Oak Knoll's financial standing was only slightly below that of the Pasadena Short Line, one of PE's best paying lines.

ROUTE: From 6th & Main Station, Los Angeles, the Oak Knoll Line followed the Monrovia-Glendora Line to El Molino station, 9.84 miles. There it turned north on its own private way, climbed the bluff on winding and beautiful way to Hotel Huntington where it entered city streets, proceeding up Lake Ave. to Colorado St., thence west on Colorado to a connection with the Pasadena Short Line at Colorado & Fair Oaks Avenue, 13.6 miles. From there it followed the PSL into the car house at N. Fair Oaks Avenue, 13.80 miles. Total length of trackage used exclusively by Oak Knoll trains was 3.97 miles. After 1916, Oak Knoll trains entered Los Angeles via Main St., looped through the station and out San Pedro St. On September 27, 1942, trains were rerouted into LA via San Pedro St., 6th St. and Main St. When 6th St. went one-way, Oak Knoll trains were rerouted into Main St. elevated stub tracks, using San Pedro St., both inbound and outbound(October 5, 1947). A demand for through service to LA by Pasadena and Altadena residents on N. Lake Ave. was met with a six-months trial service which saw Oak Knoll trains terminating at N. Lake & Woodbury Road; inaugurated on October 20, 1928, this service enjoyed 49 trains to LA daily, 48 from LA. It did not prove a financial success, however, and the following June the Oak Knoll cars returned to their former terminus, Fairs Oaks & Union. Rush hour service to N. Lake & Woodbury Road continued, however, The last through trip to Woodbury Road operated on Saturday, January 18, 1941; this was due to PE's sale of its local lines in Pasadena to Pacific City Lines and the N. Lake tracks were among the city lines to be abandoned.

HISTORY: The oak Knoll Line was unique in that it was brought into being by a hotel--the tremendous Hotel Wentworth, built by General Wentworth, manager of the older and only slightly less pretentious Hotel Raymond, 1903 atop the beautiful Oak Knoll. Pasadena, famous for its resort hotels(the Green, the Pintoresca, Maryland, and Raymond), at once acknowledged the preeminence of the Wentworth and surrounded it with stately and costly mansions. Henry E. Huntington bought into the section, even eventually acquiring the Hotel Wentworth itself which he renamed the Huntington.

To serve his namesake hotel and its rich contributory areas, Huntington through the Los Angeles Interurban Railway built a cross country double-track line due north from El Molino to a connection with the Pasadena city system at Lake Ave. & California St. This was in 1906. When the Oak Knoll Line opened that year it was known as the Wentworth Line, and carried that name for many years.

A double-track standard gauge line was built in 1903 by PE from Oneonta Park to El Molino(and on to Monrovia). Two additional tracks, making a four-track system, were built in 1910 by L.A. Interurban.

On the Pasadena end, a single track narrow gauge electric line on Lake Ave. from California St. to Colorado St. and on Colorado St. from Lake to Fair Oaks was built in 1894-95 by the Pasadena & Los Angeles Electric Railway Company(see South Pasadena Line). PE in 1903 standard gauged this entire line and double tracked it on Colorado St. from Lake to Broadway. In 1908 a second track was constructed on Colorado St. between Broadway and Fair Oaks, and in 1910 built a second track on Lake from Colorado to California St.

OPERATION: The Oak Knoll Line was one of the few PE interurban lines which did not have any form of freight service. All of the carload freight destined to Pasadena was moved via Southern Pacific, while 1-c-1 moved in box motors via the Pasadena Short Line. As of 1949, the number of trains operated daily except Saturdays and Sundays was 41 to Pasadena and 40 to Los Angeles. The scheduled running time was 56 minutes in base periods, 58 minutes in morning rush, 59 minutes in the evening rush, and 50 minutes at night.

To provide this service during the four periods listed, PE supplied 13, 4, 15, and 4 cars respectively. These consisted of 13 of the 1100 Class and 2 of the 1200 Class. Average miles per hour during these four periods: 14.4, 14.9, 14.2, and 16.7. Approximate headways in these periods were 15-20 minutes, 20-30 minutes, 15-20 minutes, and 40-60 minutes. Cars were stored at Macy St. in LA and at the Pasadena carhouse.

TRACK: Trackage used exclusively by the OK(El Molino-Colorado & Fair Oaks) is here listed by weight of rail and year built:

Section Weight Year El Molino-Huntington Hotel 60 lb. 1906 Huntington Hotel-Colorado St. 91 1914 Colorado, Lake to Fair Oaks 128G* 1923 *Girder


BEST YEAR: 1944---2,906,414 revenue passengers

EQUIPMENT: The OK Line was opened by cars of the 800 Class which ran until 1912, when replaced by the 950 Class(700 then); in 1924 the 1100s took over the service aided by the 450s of the Mt. Lowe run which performed local service en route. In 1943-44 the 1100 Class underwent rehabilitation and 950s and 1000s took over meanwhile. In 1947 some 1200 Class cars augmented the 1100s, and the 1000 Class served as needed.

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