Category: Railroading

Streetcar residences

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Image: Undated photo of Class 1 Streetcar homes in the Old Town neighborhood of San Diego, CA from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Class_1_Homes_in_Old_Town.jpg .

“In early 1939, the San Diego Electric Railway Company began the process of retiring the Class 1 streetcars. For a period of seven months that year, public sales were held to sell off the streetcar bodies, which could be purchased for $50 each.

“Fortunately, some of the big, roomy Class 1 streetcar bodies were purchased, put on lots, and converted into residences. Within a few months, however, there were complaints, and city leaders passed laws which made it illegal to use any more of the retired streetcars as residences…

“Since 1939, any time residential property with a streetcar home was sold in San Diego, the streetcar body had to be removed from the property, because they were not legally transferable as homes. The only streetcar bodies that could be used for homes were those that were grandfathered in, and continually resided in by the original property owner. Most streetcar homes were gone by the 1960s.

“A young, newly married couple purchased three of the streetcars in 1939 during that short seven-month period. This couple lived in them together for over fifty years. These are the last of the original 24 Class 1 streetcars and they are ready to be restored and returned the streets of San Diego.”

Excerpts from: http://sandiegohistoricstreetcars.org/history.html . Read more about the history of this class of streetcar in San Diego at the link.

La Grande depot

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Image: cropped from Los Angeles Times file photo http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thedailymirror/2009/05/union-station-opens-may-4-1939.html .

“The Moorish-designed La Grande Station, located at 2nd Street and Santa Fe Ave., opened on July 29, 1893, and was the main terminal for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railways for over 40 years.

“However, the Long Beach earthquake of 1933 badly damaged it, resulting in the terminal building’s temporary closure and the eventual removal of the dome.”

Excerpt from https://bizarrela.com/2016/10/la-grande-station/ .

The depot continued in use until May 1939 when it was closed when the railroad moved to the newly built Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal on Alameda Street.

 

Last of the great stations

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The Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal opened on May 3. It was the last of the large multi-railroad depots built.

“In a city full of instantly recognizable architecture, it stands out as an iconic symbol of Los Angeles.

“Over 500,000 people turned out for the Opening Day parade.  (The city’s 1940 census population was just over 1,500,000).

“A 6,000 seat ampitheatre was set up to stage “Romance Of The Rails,” an elaborate production depicting the history of Southern California and its development through transportation.”

Excerpts from http://metroprimaryresources.info/72-years-ago-today-union-station-is-born-the-story-and-photos-from-the-citywide-fight-over-a-central-terminal-public-transit-plan/1169/ . Learn more at the link.

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Below are pages from an advance letter requesting floats from area counties to be in the parade on opening day.

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For a complete history of the depot, read The Last of the Great Stations by Bill Bradley.

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Here is a postal cover issued for the grand opening:

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Diesel-electric locomotive

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“This lead unit of the four-unit EMD-103 demonstrator locomotive became the prototype of the first mass-produced diesel-electric locomotives used for freight service in the United States. They rapidly replaced the steam locomotive. Called ‘the train that did it’ in a February 1960 edition of Trains magazine, it was a revolutionary step for the rail industry.”

Excerpt from https://www.asme.org/about-asme/who-we-are/engineering-history/landmarks/78-electro-motive-ft-freight-service-diesel .

This 4-unit set was tested on various railroads, including the Santa Fe in southern California, beginning in 1939.

For a full history, see http://trn.trains.com/railroads/railroad-maps/2016/08/1939s-big-breakthrough-the-ft .

Diesel-electric (diesel engine spinning a generator that powered electric motors on the axles) locomotives were successfully used in U.S. passenger rail service earlier in the 1930s.

 

Railway Express Agency

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Celebrating its 100th anniversary, REA issued postcards showing the transition from horse-drawn coaches to airplanes. The bulk of their shipping was done by rail, usually in their own express cars coupled to passenger trains. REA was formed in World War I when the U.S. government consolidated seven shipping companies (one of which dated back to 1839). Later it became a private multi-railroad-owned operation. Flanking the postcard above are two 1939 shipping labels.

Express offices were at virtually every railroad depot in the U.S. REA maintained a fleet of trucks for delivery and pickup of larger items.

For more information, go to http://www.wow.com/wiki/Railway_Express_Agency