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Morgan Yard

WMorgan Avenue Yard was constructed in 1910 to replace Seaside Park Yard; Old PE's original inspection-storage facility for main line trains in Long Beach.

WSeaside Park Yard was located at the extreme end of the line; all beach trains had to deadhead from the Pine Avenue Station to Seaside Park and then return to pick up inbound passengers. Thus, with a round trip distance between Pine Avenue and Seaside Park of 2.78 miles and with a figure set by PE of 22 cents per mile per car operating expense, it is not difficult to understand why General Manager McMillian wrote as follows to Vice-President Williams Herrin on March 14, 1910:

"For nearly four years I have been trying to get some inspection, oiling and turning back point for our Los Angeles-Long Beach cars nearer the terminal station at the foot of Pine Avenue in order to cut out the unnecessary deadhead mileage by going way down to the end of the line at Seaside Park for that purpose, which system was inaugurated by General Manager Schindler for some reason which no one but himself understood and it was, I believe, the result of my representations to Mr. Huntington in connection with this unnecessary and expensive deadhead mileage on every car running between Los Angeles and Long Beach that Mr. Huntington instructed the making of this lease. The unnecessary deadhead about 155 miles per day...amounting to a savings of $34.10 per day. As the inspection pits at Seaside Park have rotted out and are half full of seepage water from the ocean and will have to be rebuilt or abandoned, I believe it will be economy to make this arrangement instead of spending any money at Seaside Park..."
WThe arrangement to which Mr. McMillan refers in the above letter was the leasing of lots 11 to 16 at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Ocean Park Avenue The lease had been effected in 1909 with the approval of Mr. Huntington; PE paid but $300 per year for this strategic location!

WHerrin balked at the lease idea and on July 14, 1910, PE took title to lots 8 to 16, comprising the entire block from Ocean Avenue to First Street along Ocean Park Avenue, where the double track Long Beach-San Pedro Line was being built. The following day McMillan ordered work to begin on Morgan Avenue Yard, named after a street which was doomed to disappear under the turgid waters of the relocated flood control channel in 1920.

WIn 1910 PE's tracks on Ocean Avenue ended a little west of Golden Avenue; the Seaside Park tracks left Ocean Park Avenue at the junction of Santa Cruz Avenue and Daisy Avenue Thus this double track spur on Ocean Avenue had to be extended one block west to hook up with the new yard.

WBy March 16, 1911, Assistant Chief Engineer Johnson reported Morgan Avenue Yard to be 85% completed; tracks were in, inspection pits completed, but considerable fill was necessary before tracks could be operated over. On April 14, 1911, McMillan received work that the new yard was ready and thereupon issued the following order:

"Use the new storage track and car inspection pit, Ocean Park Avenue, Long Beach, as the terminus of our Los Angeles-Long Beach cars instead of Seaside Park as at present, and run the Alamitos Bay cars thru to Seaside Park to take care of whatever business has developed down there...We should then fill up the old pit at Seaside."

WMorgan Avenue Yard as of 1911 was quite a bit smaller than in more recent years. There were but five tracks, and only tracks 1, 2 and 3 went all the way to First Street; 4 and 5 were but half as long. By May 19, 1911 McMillan was being importuned to recommend extending the pit track to handle more cars; subsequently this was done. On May 22nd Southern District Superintendent Maddex wrote Mr. McMillan that he had been down watching Morgan Avenue handle cars on a busy day and found it could only store ten or twelve cars and that he would still have to rely on Seaside Park to take care of extra cars after Morgan filled up. Maddex estimated Morgan would need about 600 additional feet of track to accommodate the 20 or 30 cars tied up at Long Beach between noon and 4:00PM on busy summer days and holidays. So additional trackage was built at different times; final work of this nature was done in 1922 when two completely new tracks were added: one between tracks 3 and 4, and one between tracks 4 and 5. This crammed the small block of PE property to overflowing, and no additions were made after that time. Other changes included a new pit beneath track 1, the filling in of the original pit track (that nearest Ocean Avenue) and the erecting of miscellaneous service sheds on the Ocean Park Avenue/First Street corner of the property.

WMorgan Avenue Yard was an operating point for passenger trainmen until 1954, when MCL erected new trainmen's quarters at Fairbanks Avenue Yard. Since then, Morgan Avenue has been a layover point only, with some car washers still working there. Most of the trackage in the final years was used to store out-of-service cars awaiting removal to scrappers' yards. This property, but not Fairbanks, was acquired by the Metropolitan Transit Authority in 1958. Early in 1959 LAMTA and the City of Long Beach effected a deal whereby Morgan Avenue Yard will be swapped for property of equal area lying farther to the east---including Ocean Park Avenue which is to be vacated.

WWhy, when it became necessary to get out of 5th & American did not PE locate its new Long Beach carhouse at Morgan Avenue instead of Fairbanks; especially when it was necessary to purchase considerable land at Fairbanks whereas PE already owned Morgan? The answer is that PE did everything possible to work in a carhouse and they did enlarge storage capacity at Morgan; the first attempt came in 1924; to create sufficient room for a suitable yard, it would have been necessary to vacate Broadway and half of the width of Ocean Park Avenue; this the city refused to consider. In addition, property owners fought the enlarging of the Morgan site as being detrimental to land values; PE even offered to erect a 15' wall with a false roof section to disguise the yard. This wall would enclose the entire property but would have large openings for entrance tracks and residents of second floors of adjacent homes could still see the cars. So Morgan Avenue had to give way, despite the fact that elaborate plans were drawn up for a new Morgan Avenue Yard which would have had sufficient trackage space for 15 tracks to accommodate 70 sixty foot cars and a four-track carhouse 220' x 80' and related smaller structures.

WOnce it had been determined that expansion of Morgan Yard was impossible, the pendulum swung rapidly to the other extreme. In mid-1924 Mr. D.W. Pontius, head of PE, requested a work order covering the abandoment of Morgan Avenue Yard except for car storage space for 15 cars; this would have resulted in the sale of all that part of the yard fronting on Ocean Avenue, but with three tracks retained at the extreme west end of the property. It was subsequently decided to retain Morgan to cut down deadhead mileage to Fairbanks from downtown Long Beach; this was estimated to save 300 car miles daily, as the distance from Morgan to Fairbanks is 4,000 feet.

WOriginal cost of this property was $77,600 divided as follows:
  • Tracks, pits, buildings: $20,835
  • Land, PE Ry.: $35,019
  • Land PE Land Co.: $21,765

Area of Morgan Yard is 98,281 square feet exclusive of streets and alleys. Estimated cost of building the new Morgan Yards (1923) $262,300.

WEven had the 1923 plan been carried out, no future expansion would have been possible. Thus PE would gain but nine car storage spaces; 5th & American could hold 23 big cars and Morgan could hold 38; the rebuilt Morgan would hold 70 big cars.

WAdditional trackage at Morgan Yard was constructed in 1918, when 550' of single track was relocated and 610' of new single track was added; also 320' of new concrete car inspection pits was built. In 1919, a store room, men's and women's locker rooms, an oil storage room and a trolley inspection platform were built. In 1922, two additional tracks were constructed.

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