Return to ERHA homepage
Los Angeles Terminal District
WThe Los Angeles Terminal District included trackage within an area of Valley Junction on the north, Main St. on the west, 6th & Central on the east, and Long Beach Avenue (Four Tracks) and Adams Street on the south.
WFocal point of the Los Angeles Terminal District was the great 6th & Main Station.
WPrior to the opening of this terminal, Southern District trains terminated first at East 9th Street & Main; then when standard gauge tracks were placed on Main Street, cars proceeded north to a temporary terminus on the northeast corner of 6th & Main.
WAt one time or another there were four distinct routes by which Southern District cars could reach the station:
- Via East 9th and Main Streets
- Via East 7th and Main streets
- Via East 7th to Surface Yard
- Via East 9th, San Pedro Street and the elevated
WIncluded in our coverage of the Los Angeles Terminal District are tracks on East 9th Street to Mateo and on East 6th Street to Central Avenue
East Ninth Street, Los Angeles:
WThis line was built by LARy from Main Street to Mateo Street in 1899---one of Henry Huntington's first lines; it was operated by LARy in conjuction with that company's Mateo Street Line to the Santa Fe's La Grande Depot at First Street and Mateo. This line was single track.
WWhen PE built its Long Beach Line, it was decided that the line's entry to Los Angeles would be via the East 9th Street Line to a temporary terminal at Main Street. During May, June and July of 1902 the line was rebuilt and standard gauged and a second track added between Tennesse Street (Hooper Avenue) and Main Street. Between Tennesse Street and Santa Fe Avenue the line was also standard gauged and double tracked in mid-1903 and early 1904.
WLARy operated this line in its infancy in conjuction with its Mateo Street Line---which continued from East 9th Street and Mateo north on Mateo to the Santa Fe Station at First Street. When the PE Long Beach Line was opened, its cars used this line from Tennesse Street (now Hooper) to a temporary terminus at Main Street, vieing with LARy cars for street space; LARy cars also turned back there. This brought about interference and delay and irritation between crews of the two companys.
WHuntington solved this problem by giving the East 9th Street Line to Pacific Electric; this was done on January 1, 1904. A great public outcry arose immediately, for PE would not issue transfers from its local cars to LARy Main Street cars resulting in the paying of two fares by East 9th Street residents to reach the downtown area. The transfer war eventually landed in court and judgment was rendered in favor of the plaintiffs---resulting in PE's having to issue transfers to LARy and accepting their transfers in return---one of the few times this was ever done.
WWith the East 9th Street Line from Hooper to Main becoming the Southern District main stem, the remainder of the line sank into oblivion. A shuttle car was operated for several years between Hooper and Santa Fe Avenue, but it was pulled off at an unknown date and tracks were pulled up in 1916; this segment was 0.72 miles long; all in public street.
WEast 9th Street from Main to San Pedro Street continued to operate until October 22, 1950 when the last line using this segment---the Watts Local Line---was rerouted into Main Street Station via the elevated tracks. A franchise car ran over this trackage until December 28, 1950. Trolley wire was removed in April, 1951, and rails shortly thereafter.
Main Street, Los Angeles:
WSouthern District trains operated on Main Street from the concourse of the 6th & Main Station to Ninth Street. The street was shared with LARy, resulting in combination gauge trackage.
WDue to difference in track gauge, PE's Long Beach cars had to terminate at 9th & Main streets from opening day, July 4, 1902 until mid-1903, when a third rail had been laid on Main Street from 9th to 1st. Cars used a temporary terminus at 6th & Main until January 5, 1905, when the great station building formally opened.
WSouthern District trains continued to operate via Main Street until October 22, 1950 when the Watts Local cars were rerouted into the station via San Pedro Street and the elevated tracks. A franchise car made its last run on December 28, 1950 and the big red cars thereupon disappeared forever from Main Street.
East Seventh Street, Los Angeles:
WThis line was constructed in 1909 from Alameda Street to Main Street to relieve congestion caused by the overtaxing of the East 9th Street Line. By using the 7th Street route trains saved about five minutes.
WOn February 23, 1908 LARy opened its new East 7th Street Line from Broadway to Mateo Street. This line passed directly in front of PE's new shops and yard at 7th & Central, so it is not surprising that PE officals soon noted the comparative ease of adding a third rail on 7th and obtaining a faster entry into the 6th & Main Station. This was authorized by Mr. Huntington and the PE began using this route on April 1, 1909 from Alameda to Main. To reach 7th & Alameda, PE cars traversed company trackage in yards from 9th to 7th, entirely on private way. (Note: East 9th Street continued to be used by several lines.)
WOn March 31, 1914, the 7th Street Surface Yard was opened as a temporary teminal for Southern District trains. It served until the elevated trackage was completed and opened on February 11, 1917. Thereafter, East 7th Street steadily declined in importance. Trackage between San Pedro Street and Alameda was removed in 1926; that between the Surface Yard (midway between Los Angeles Street and Maple Avenue) and Main Street in 1932 (although unused for years previously), and that between the Surface Yards and San Pedro Street in 1952.
East Sixth Street, Los Angeles:
WTracks on East 6th Street between Main Street and Ceres Street and on Ceres to Central Avenue (opposite the Southern Pacific Arcade Depot) were constructed by LAIU in 1904 as part of the Glendale Line. Grading was performed by The Los Angeles & Glendale Electric Railway Company which sold out to LAIU on March 11, 1904. The trackage entered service on June 30, 1904.
WSouthern District cars used this trackage only to reach the Arcade Depot. Such cars were the SP specials, plus various box motors and RPO cars. For regular passenger service over this trackage, see Edendale Line.
San Pedro Street, Los Angeles:
W1912 and 1913 were stormy years in Los Angeles electric railway circles. First of all, the city (looking northward to the San Francisco venture) was anxious to establish a municipal railway to San Pedro via San Pedro Street. PE was eager to get its interurban trains off Main Street and onto San Pedro Street to alleviate congestion. PE promised an elevated from San Pedro Street to its 6th & Main Station if granted this privilege. Merchants on San Pedro Street wanted a narrow gauge line to bring local patrons to their stores. The final arrangement was announced in January, 1913. PE received a franchise for a line on San Pedro Street from Aliso Street to 9th Street with the proviso that it contain a third rail for narrow gauge cars and also that if the city ever needed San Pedro Street for its muncipal railway, PE would be permitted to build a replacement line on Los Angeles Street. The line opened on March 22, 1914, 1.37 miles long; owned by the city and leased by Pacific Electric.
WFrom 9th Street to 7th Street, both LARy and PE used the railway. North of 7th Street, not a single LARy car ever rolled; gradually the third rail disappeared as track was rebuilt.
Butte Street Yard
WButte Street Yard is located two blocks east of Amoco Junction on land originally comprising the old Huntington Industrial Tract. At its top, Butte connects with tracks of the Union Pacfic (over which SP has trackage rights) and the Santa Fe; at the bottom, Butte Street connects with the double tracks of the Santa Monica Air Line. Butte Street Yard contains twenty tracks and has a capacity of some 370 cars. Small as it is, Butte Street Yard is the undisputed center of PE freight activity. This little giant usually handles five or six times its car storage capicity daily, its small size making for speedy movements. During World War II there were days when as many as 3,000 cars went through Butte Street.
WAlthough PE had other yards which were interchange points, Butte Street is the principal interchange facility with SP, UP and Santa Fe connecting lines in Los Angeles. These roads brought all their freight destined for points on PE to Butte Street, where PE crews made up trains to be forwarded to destinations on the PE system. Freight originating on PE lines and destined to Los Angeles and points on the Northern and/or Western Districts, or to connecting railroads, also came to Butte Street.
WThree auxiliary yards in Los Angeles supplemented Butte Street; State Street Yard on the Northern District at Valley Junction, 8th Street Yard and Graham Yard, the latter two being on the Southern District. State Street received cars from Butte Street for relassification for the Northern District destinations; Graham received cars from Butte for Southern District reclassification; and 8th Street Yard, in the wholesale produce district, is the center for perishable freight interchange and distribution.
WButte Street required two Yardmasters and two yard crews for duty on each of the three 8-hour shifts. One yardmaster amd one crew worked the top, or east end, of the Yard near Santa Fe Avenue; another Yardmaster and crew worked at the lower, or west end, near Alameda Street Switching crews worked in and out of the Yard on short hauls.
WFreight received at Butte from connecting lines was classified according to destination; when a particular track was full, a PE switching crew would take the cut to Graham Yard where it would be reclassified and made up into trains which were later picked up by road crews coming from Butte Street Yard.
WIf a car required weighing it was put on track 12 of Butte. If a car had defective equipment, PE's Mechanical Department would effect repairs at a repair shop located near the top end of Butte.
WAs of 1945, the PE system handled almost 110,000 cars received from other railroads. PE forwared 65,000 cars. Most of these cars were handled through Butte Street Yard---indeed a little giant.
8th Street Yard
W8th Street Yard originally was the track area surrounding the PE's great shops at 7th & Central. When the shops were moved to Torrance in 1929, this area (bounded by 7th Street, Alameda Street, 8th Street and Central Avenue) was vastly changed in appearance. The northeast portion of the property became the site for the enormous warehouses of the Los Angeles Union Terminal Company. The northwest portion, hitherto used by PE as its Los Angeles freight house and tributary tracks, was given over to miscellaneous private freight haulers on the 8th Street side, with buildings of the Terminal continuing all the way down Central Avenue to 8th Street. On the Alameda side, extending all the way from 8th Street to 7th Street, a new yard was constructed and two large remaining shop buildings rebuilt into PE's Los Angeles freight depot.
W8th Street Yard, because of its proximity to the Union Terminal, was an important center for perishable freight interchange and distribution. An ice truck was kept waiting at all times to top-ice perishable freight when necessary.
WPE's Los Angeles Freight House, at 7th & Alameda Streets, made out through waybills for cars bound to connecting railroads. It was also the heart of PE's box motor service; most of PE's box motors could be seen alongside the freight house on weekends---but during business hours they were coming and going constantly.
WCapacity of 8th Street Yard was 206 cars on classification tracks, and 19 cars on repair and service tracks. This included Los Angeles Union Terminal Market tracks.
WOnly one switch engine was assigned to 8th Street Yard, working on three shifts. It handled all switching at both 8th Street Yard and in the Union Terminal area. All switching moves betwen 8th Street and Butte Street were handled by Butte crews. For many years the 8th Street switcher was home-built locomotive 1599.
Four Tracks South:
WFrom 9th Street and Hooper Avenue, Los Angeles, to Watts, 6.04 miles, the Long Beach Line enjoyed a four-track main---one of two such impressive quadruple lines on the PE. (See Northern District for the other.)
WOrders were issued in May, 1906 by Long Beach Line as far as Watts, and to rush the work. At that time PE was operating daily more than 600 cars over the Long Beach Line and its allied lines: Whittier, Santa Ana, San Pedro and Newport Beach and traffic was steadily becoming more congested. Mr. Huntington also secured the necessary rights-of-way to ultimately continue the four track system from Watts to Dominguez Junction, but the latter stretch was never built. Note that at the time the Long Beach Line was four-tracked to Watts, PE had yet to operate a multiple-unit train; all trains were single cars.
WLAIU began work on the two new, outer tracks on December 1, 1906. The new tracks were of 60 lb. rail, similar to the 60 lb. steel used on the two inner, main tracks. As the outer tracks were intended for use by local cars and slower moving freights, it was felt that 60 lb. rail would be quite acceptable, despite heavier loads.
WSlowly the four-track avenue of the interurban main line took shape. Shifting and connecting the 2.33 miles of spur tracks was in itself a major job. By late summer of 1907 the third and fourth tracks had been completed and operation began about October 15th (PE records are indefinite).
WRelief from congestion was immediate; no longer did Watts Locals tie up the beach cars---the latter were now free to use the speed inherent in their 75 hp motors and 33" wheels. By November 16, 1907, PE could report through the pages of "Electric Railway Journal" that "all difficulties have been overcome, and long-distance cars are making their trips on schedule time."
WLos Angeles thus gained the only four-track interurban main line west of Chicago, and there began an era of electric train operation which, as far as PE was concerned, endured until April, 1961.
WGradually the original steel gave way to heavier rail---which was second hand 90 lb. steel from the Southern Pacific. In 1928, the local tracks were relaid from 9th Street to Slauson Avenue. In 1943-44, heavy wartime freights made it necessary to re-lay the local tracks from Slauson Avenue to Watts. Attention was then given to the two inner tracks; due to the importance of freight deliveries to San Pedro and quick dispatch of same, freights were using the inner tracks more and more, despite the lighter 70 lb. rail. In 1944 authority was obtained to re-lay the inner tracks with 90 lb. rail between 9th Street and Slauson Avenue, the reason being that heavy freight movements were injuring the lighter rail. Much of the re-laid rail came from the SP's coast line and was marked prior to being removed; it was then re-laid in exactly the same sequence.
WSubstations were located on the Four Tracks at Amoco, Slauson Junction and Watts.
Towers were located at Amoco Junction, Slauson Junction and Watts.
Main yard of the Electrical Department was on the west side of the Four Tracks on the north side of Washington Boulevard.
Main yard of the Engineering Department was on the east side of the Four Tracks on the south side of Washington Boulevard.
Return to ERHA homepage