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Santa Monica Air Line

ROUTE: From 6th & Main Station via elevated tracks, San Pedro St., E. Ninth St.(Olympic) to Hooper, thence via private way to Amoco Junction.; at this point the Santa Monica Air Line entered its own single track private right of way line, crossing the southern part of the city of Los Angeles, emerging onto Exposition Boulevard. at Figueroa St., entering private way again at Vermont, thence to Culver Junction., where it crossed the Venice Short Line. The line then continued on private way to Palms, Talamantes, Home Junction., Santa Monica and terminus at Ocean Park Car House. (Note: This line was designated "Air Line-Inglewood Line" on Employees' Timetables; see Inglewood Line for continuation from Ocean Park to Inglewood).

Soldiers' Home Branch left the Air Line at Home Junction., proceeded via west Los Angeles (Sawtelle) to Soldiers' Home grounds, a distance of 2.14 miles, all single track and all on private way; this branch crossed the Santa Monica via Sawtelle Line at Santa Monica & Sepulveda.

HISTORY: Built in 1875 as a steam railroad from Los Angeles to Santa Monica; name: "The Los Angeles & Independence RR." First train ran on October 17th of that year. Sold to Southern Pacific on July 4, 1877. In 1891 SP built the Long Wharf half a mile to the north of Santa Monica Canyon and this line became a freight and passenger hauler of prime importance. The government's decision to build a breakwater at San Pedro doomed both Redondo Beach and Port Los Angeles(the Long Wharf) and in 1908 SP leased the railroad line and the wharf to Los Angeles Pacific which electrified the portion between Sentous and the Long Wharf in that year; the remainder of the line was electrified three years later.

The Soldiers' Home Branch, 2.61 miles long from Home Junction. to the Home at Sawtelle, was built in 1877 by SP. It was leased by LAP in 1908 and electrified.

In 1911 the Great Merger brought the Air Line and its Soldiers' Home Branch to the PE which operated freight and passenger service over both for many years.

Passenger service on the Air Line was abandoned on September 30, 1953 west of 11th Avenue; on October 26, 1953, the remainder of the line saw its last passenger car. Passenger service on the Soldiers' Home branch was abandoned probably in 1920 except for special movements.

After abandonment of passenger service in 1953, trolley wire was removed and diesel locomotives took over all freight movements.

Los Angeles0.00
San Pedro Street3.77
Grand Avenue4.54
11th Avenue7.68
Culver Junction11.16
West Los Angeles14.87
Soldiers' Home15.87
Santa Monica16.88
Tool House17.54
Ocean Park19.20

EQUIPMENT: 500 and 800 Class cars to 1940, 950 Class to 1951, 1000 and 5050 Class cars to the end.

Single-track rules govern operation of trains between Nevin and Inglewood, between Talamantes and Soldiers' Home, and between Milwood Junction. and Venice City Hall.

At meeting points outbound trains will take siding unless otherwise ordered.

Register Stations: Nevin, Culver Junction., Talamantes and Ocean Park.

Railroad crossings: 2.44 miles from LA , Amoco; PE; interlocker. 3.05 miles, Hooper Avenue; LATL; 3.77 miles, San Pedro ST., LATL; 4.32 miles, Jefferson & Main, LATL; 4.58 miles, rand Avenue, LATL; 11.16 miles, Culver Junction, PE Venice Short Line; 20.29 miles, PE Venice short Line; 22.04 miles, Alla, PE Redondo-Del Rey Line. At LATL crossings, speed was required to be reduced to 10 mph with no stop required if crossing seen to be clear. AT Culver Junction, absolute automatic block signals controlled. At Venice, derail switches with switches indicators controlled. At Alla, trains firsts stopped, then flagged across. All LATL crossings had flagmen who controlled LATL cars.

SUBSTATIONS: Power for this line was supplied by the following substations, none of which served this line exclusively:

Amoco: Substation No. 50, built 1926; one rotary converter, 1500 kw., concrete building.
Culver: Substation No. 39, built 1907; two motor-generator sets, 1300 kw., brick-stucco.
Ocean Park: Substation No. 40, built 1896; four motor-generator sets, 3250 kw., brick building.

OPERATION: As of 1913, hourly service was provided from Main Street Station, Los Angeles, to Santa Monica where cars terminated at Broadway & Ocean. In late 1915 passenger service west of Culver Junction. was discontinued except one round trip daily except Sunday; east of Culver Junction. service remained on an hourly headway. As of 1920, cars ran on a 90-minute headway to Culver Junction. with 30-minute headway in rush hours to 11th Avenue One through round trip ran daily, leaving Santa Monica at 6:45 AM, Los Angeles at 5:30 PM.

In mid-1924 operations were reduced; cars ran in morning and evening rush hour only. Sunday service ended probably in 1926. In 1929 30 minute service from Main St. Station to 11th Avenue was again tried but was soon stopped. By the end of 1931 but a single round trip remained from LA to Santa Monica. This ran as more or less a franchise car until September 30, 1953 when it was cut back to 11th Avenue Even this was eliminated as of October 26, 1953.

In the early days PE provided passenger service via Hill St. 16th St. to Culver Junction., thence over the Air Line to Ocean & Montana, Santa Monica; this ended November 1, 1913. Another early routing left Main Street Station via Amoco and the Air Line to Culver Junction., thence via the Venice Short Line to Ocean & Broadway, Santa Monica; this line quit probably in November, 1913.

That portion of the Air Line from Santa Monica to the Long Wharf was operated as a Santa Monica local line.

Passenger service on the Soldiers' Home Branch was operated from Santa Monica Boulevard. in Sawtelle(West Los Angeles) into the grounds of the Soldiers' Home. As of 1911, 30-minute headway was provided until 7:15 PM with no night service. 22 daily round trips were operated in 1918 between 6:58 AM and 5:28 PM. Passenger service was abandoned apparently in 1920.

FREIGHT: The Air Line was the main trunk for freight on the Western District. In addition to freight trains, RPO cars and box motors were regularly scheduled.

This line, built as a steam railroad, was particularly apt for freight operations. It had easy grades and curves(sharpest curve was from outbound local track to Air Line at Nevin(Amoco Junction) At Sentous a fair-sized yard was maintained, and spurs and sidings were located all along the line, particularly in the Sentous-Palms section. PE pushed hard for new manufacturing plants along the Air Line and was quite successful, especially in the Sentous-Culver City area; a large loop line was constructed to permit exploitation of one manufacturing zone. The Air Line was the only Western District line on which two electric locomotives were allowed per train.

Although the total freight revenue from the Western District was but a very small fraction of that of the Southern District and about one-sixth of the Northern District total, the Air Line(as of 1935-36-37) was turning in an average freight revenue per mile of line of $5,895---and stations served via the Air Line ranked well up the list of important revenue producers; Hollywood with $121,980 average for 1935-36-37, Beverly Hills with $48,737 for the same period, Santa Monica with $46,208 and Culver City with $24,847.

Most Air Line freight trains moved after 11:00 PM, for between 6:00 AM and 11:00 PM trains were limited to 25 cars within the Los Angeles City limits(11th Avenue).

Box motors and RPO cars ran over the Air Line on regular schedules, although most of these runs used the West's main passenger trunk lines. An interesting operation as of 1938 was the method of handling the Beverly Hills box motor which ran daily; this car was hauled outbound in a regular freight via the Air Line carrying express matter; it was kept at Beverly Hills Station all day for loading and unloading, then ran back under its own power.

In December, 1938, this freight schedule was in effect: The Culver Junction.-Santa Monica freight left Butte Street Yard at 1:00 AM, arriving at Culver Junction. in time to spot all loads for Sentous, Culver, West LA, Home Junction., and Santa Monica. At 2:45 AM the Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Hollywood switch crew picked up the loads at Culver and handled them to destination.

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