TIMEPOINTS VOL 3 NO 03 September 1951




Rail Routes of Yesteryear - 13:



When streetcars first began rolling between 6th Street in Los Angeles and the Edendale residential district, they comprised part of the Los Angeles Inter-Urban Railway, a subsidiary of Huntington’s Pacific Electric.  After 1910, of course, this route, together with the suburban lines to Glendale and Burbank, which used its tracks to leave Los Angeles, became part of Southern Pacific’s newly merged Pacific Electric Empire.


This car line also served the S.P.’s old Central Station, being operated as it was by an S.P. subsidiary, gave it added importance.  The line ran from Cerres and Centeral via Cerres, 6th, Figueroa, Second, Glendale, and private right-of-way to what is now Whitmore Avenue, but which then was known as “Semi-Tropical Park.”


Frail wooden California-type city cars of the 100 and 200 classes provided service on the line for many years.  With their gradual retirement, the clumsy-looking step-less steel cars of the 50-80 series took over the route; eighteen of these were required in 1927.  These cars were sold in 1934, and the 600 class cars stepped in.


An important date in the line’s history was December 1, 1925 when the Glendale cars were diverted into the newly opened subway, leaving Edendale locals free to run by themselves on the surface route into and through the downtown district.  It was at this time that the Edendale and Glendale lines first became classed as belonging to the Western District; hitherto they had been considered Northern District services, as they ran into or past Main Street Station and had no physical connection to the West.


Headway on the Edendale line in 1927 was seven minutes during weekday base hours and during the busiest hours on Sunday.  It shrunk to five minutes in weekday rush hours, and lengthened to ten minutes at nights and during slow hours on Sundays.  There were 171 scheduled runs weekdays, all single cars, as the line never enjoyed Multiple Unit operation in spite of the fact that it was well patronized.


The Edendale route became involved in the Glendale motor coach experiment of 1936-1940.  As the Glendale rail line was (and is) located on semi-rapid transit right-of-way far removed from the streets the buses had to use, and in a very hilly section of the city, the removal of all but a skeleton of the Glendale rail runs on July 12th of 1936, would have left hilltop dwellers stranded without convenient transportation, while the fast right-of-way grew rusty with disuse.


The solution was to extend the Edendale cars as far as Monte Sano for the duration of the experiment.  This carried them over the famous high trestle at Fletcher Drive but not over the less spectacular bridge across the Los Angeles River. (Your Editor claims to have been born at the hospital, which give Monte Sano its name, overlooking the Glendale right-of-way. Perhaps that is why he developed such a taste for PE.)


In this extenuated fashion, the Edendale line continued to operate throughout the late 1930s.  But in 1940 the subway, whose mouth the streetcars had narrowly passed for a decade and a half, succeeded in swallowing the route in its entirety.  On September 8, 1940, Edendale service entered the fast tunnel, and tracks from Cerres and Central to 6th and San Pedro were abandoned—the Central Station had been closed to train movements a year earlier.  Trackage on Second-Figueroa-Sixth to San Pedro remained in use for box motors and as a link between PE’s North, South, and Western Districts.  Between 1942 and 1947, also, the westbound track on 6th between San Pedro and Main became reactivated for the very different use of Pasadena interurban trains looping through the city.


The Edendale line did not enjoy a very lengthy life in the subway as an independent entity.  On November 21, 1940, the Glendale bus experiment ended, a failure, and that suburban route returned to full-time rail service with PCC cars and 600s.  The Edendale line was merged into this revived Glendale line, whose route it now paralleled exactly, and Glendale cars were made local all the way into the city at most times.  In Monday to Saturday rush hours, however, “Edendale-Atwater” locals began operation, and if this is to be considered a continuation of the separate Edendale line, then that line was extended to Richardson in the Atwater District, just across the city limits (and the S.P. tracks) from Glendale.  Richardson is three stations beyond Monte Sano, and seven stations beyond the original terminus at Whitmore Ave.


During the war, Edendale-Atwater cars left Richardson from 4.23am to11.03am and the Subway from 4.00am to 10.42am, during which time inbound Glendale cars ran limited, discharging passengers only in the Richardson-Subway territory.  Afternoon locals left the Subway from 3.00pm to 6.20pm, leaving Richardson from 3.25pm to 6.19pm, with Glendale cars running limited outbound.  After the war, with declining patronage, the Edendale-Atwater locals had been the logical victims of the schedule-cutter’s axe.  The first big cut was effective September 30, 1946, leaving the locals only between 6.16 and 9.33am, 3.40 and 6.20pm.  On May 16, 1947, all Richardson locals were cut to Monday-Friday operation only, with the sole exception of the 4.49pm outbound from the Subway, which remained on Saturdays until March 19, 1948.  One-man service effective January 7, 1950, was the excuse for another cut in morning hours, from 6.16 to 8.30am, then to 8.17 on April 3, 1950.  The final blow came May 4, 1951, when a drastic service cut abolished all morning Atwater locals (along with all but three of the Glendale limiteds), and cut evening cars to six round trips leaving the Subway form 4.22pm to 6.01pm.


Thus the once-proud Edendale line, denied the dignity of total abandonment, has been gradually cut to pieces within the past decade, in its present role as shadowy accomplice of the still-rail Glendale suburban—the very line the Edendale cars had helped to replace when buses seemed to threaten it in distant 1936.




LATL presents a picture similar to PE in many respects, but with brighter spots.

Maintenance is far superior, and every vehicle at least has a clean look, whether or not it really is clean.  Most of the remaining rail is in good shape, as are the cars.  Of course, the latest group of PCCs is the gem of the entire LATL and PE rail fleets.

Too bad there weren’t 400 instead of 40.


LATL service is of course inferior to Eastern transit service, but there again you have a case of almost hopeless competition.  At least LATL doesn’t pretend to be a high-speed electric railroad, and no mere streetcar and bus company can give really speedy service.  Headways are not too frequent on many lines, especially in the evenings, and those hourly owl line-ups give LATL the small town trolley appearance, but after all, LATL rail lines are almost small town in their present set up.  They certainly did not develop after the city hit the half-million mark. (Not true, Mr. Abrams; LA’s population was above the 500,000 mark in 1920, and substantial rail line extensions continued to be made as late as 1931-Ed.).


A good job has been done in rebuilding the ‘H’ and ‘K’ class cars.  The side skirts do look rather fantastic, though.  The routing scheme has been quite modernized and a lot of dead wood cut out, such as Bonnie Brae Street and the twisting former ‘U’ route.  The only rail that might possibly have been saved out of the whole program of postwar abandonments would have been West Adams, Brooklyn, and Central Avenues.  In fact, it would have been better if West 48th Street or York Blvd. had been cut and these other lines kept.  Adams and Brooklyn might have been thru-routed, with Temple-Hooper, a trolley coach line.


The only line to get PCC cars since the war was of course the ‘R’ line, and as these came largely from the adjacent ‘3’ line, it was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.  Is there some unwritten law limiting PCC cars to only 3 lines at a time?


As LATL has the cream of the local routes, it is in a much better position financially than PE, which has too may light volume suburban lines, and lines with a lot of unprofitable mileage, like their Wilshire and Olympic bus lines, where LATL gets all the more lucrative local work.  I was glad to see the break-up of Los Angeles Motor Coach, as that setup only added to the confused transit picture in Los Angeles.  What surprises me was that PE was the loser in the deal, but I was also surprised that PE even took any routes out of the split-up.


As to LATL’s future, I think that in time lines will be “bustituted,” with possibly another 30 or 40 PCC cars bought to go to either route ‘5’, ‘7’ or ‘S’.  The other old type car lines, such as ‘8’, ‘9’ and ‘V’ will probably go when the next phase of LATL modernization begins (the first phase having ended on September 10, 1950, when the last wooden cars were retired).  There are quite a number of places around the city where new bus routes should be installed, but as LATL never does this, apparently without tremendous pressure or guaranteed profits, I guess these will not materialize.


In summary, public transit in Los Angeles does not have the importance it does in the East.

Too many people think it far beneath them to ride public vehicles.  This psychology is unfortunate, for even if rapid transit is ever built (monorail or otherwise) it will be hard to get the populace here to give up its automobiles no matter what advantages reach them by using public rapid transit.  Of course neither LATL nor PE has ever tried to combat this psychology.  In fact, as far as PE is concerned, they welcome it because the less people that ride, the less service they have to provide, and thus they can turn their attention more and more to freight.


In time I imagine some sort of transit authority will be set up in Los Angeles to try to coordinate this hodge-podge transit that now exists.  But it will probably be a long uphill fight to get real rapid transit in the City of Angels.



----------------A TIMEPOINTS EDITORIAL-------------------------------------------


June 30 seems to be a jinx date.  In 1946 it brought an end to Los Angeles’s Birney fleet; in 1950 it wrote finis to the superb Newport Beach line; and it 1951 it saw the last regularly-scheduled Birney operation in North America dissolve into discontinuance, as the only surviving small-town trolley system in this country, Fort Collins, Colorado, succumbed.


Inevitable as it was that Fort Collins should go, the shock was unpleasant, nevertheless.  With it went an entire era in American history, for there was a time when every self-respecting town had its trolleys.  The once-ubiquitous Birney is now solely a museum piece.





The fifty interurban cars, 1100-1149, retired by Pacific Electric last March 19 from service on Northern District Lines, have been sold to Buenos Aires, Argentina, as replacement cars for subway operation there.


Three steamship companies are shipping them: Westfal-Larsen Lines, Moor-McCormak Lines and Pope and Talbot Lines.


Cars are to be moved to the harbor and shipped three or four per ship until the entire fifty cars are thus removed.




Construction of the Reliance Rock diesel freight link is to be finished around September 15, and all of the North will go bus on September 30 or any week thereafter.  The Pacific Electric underpass at Foothill Boulevard was completed in early August.




The 5050s will not be used on Los Angeles-Long Beach, San Pedro, or Bellflower lines after abandonment of Glendora, according to someone who should know, and contrary to published reports in TIMEPOINTS (July), Interurbans, and the Bay Area Electric Railroad Review.  A number of 5050 class cars will be scrapped or sold.



-------------------------------CALIFORNIA NEWS NOTES-------------------------------

Angel’s Flight in early August was repainted with the same old colors.  The new paint shows how faded the old had been. (Ray Long).


Cal Cable has suspended all operations because Lloyds of London refused to renew the line’s insurance. (Mark Lees).


All of the latest group of Pacific Electric busses had arrived by August 4th, except three expected to arrive in early September.


LATL is removing West Ninth Street rail from Francisco Street west.  Crossings have been removed at Venice and Figueroa, Venice, and Grand, and at Eleventh and Hill Streets.


Most of the car storage yard at Macy Street has been torn down and a parking lot for buses is being made.  About half the car house remains to be used for bus repairs (Alan Weeks).