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California once was riddled with traction companies, but they threw it all away. This story is about the Fresno Traction Company.

In 1901, three different lines, Fulton, Fresno, and Mariposa Streets were merged into one and called the Fresno City Railway Company.  While converting the merged lines to electricity, the owners changed the name to the Fresno Traction Company.  The Fresno Traction Company was incorporated in 1903 with authorization to build 196 miles of electric lines  connecting Fresno to Selma, Trimmers Springs, Wawona, Central, and Washington Colonies. Electric operations commenced with three single truck Hammond cars purchased from the United Railroads of San Francisco, and five California cars built by W. L. Holman Car Company. After 4 miles of new track had been laid, these expansion plans were curtailed by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. By 1909 the lines along Tulare Street, Fresno Avenue, and J Street had been improved with double track. A car barn and repair shop was built at the end of Tulare Street to hold ten new double-truck Paye cars built by the American Car Company.

Southern Pacific purchased a controlling interest in 1910 and replaced most of the older rail with heavier 75-pound rail. The Roeding Park branch line was completed in 1912, and four longer Paye cars were purchased from the Jewett Car Company. A line was completed to the company-owned Fresno Beach in 1915. A total of 41.55 miles of track was in operation when automobile competition halted further expansion after World War I

 Power was purchased from San Joaquin Light and Power Corporation at 1000 volt, 60 cycle, 3 phase AC and converted to 550 volt DC in substations at O and Platt Streets, at Herndon and Forkner Avenues, and on Blackstone Avenue near Webster Street. Nineteen Birney cars were placed in operation after the war, and the original Hammond cars were replaced by twelve lightweight double-truck cars built by St. Louis Car Company in 1925. Individual lines were abandoned as service contracted through the 1930s.  All streetcar operations ended on 20 May1939.

Fresno 68 was rescued from a field in 1970 & restored at the San Jose History Park as SJRR 143

Fresno 68 was rescued from a field in 1970 & restored at the San Jose History Park as SJRR 143

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Thanks for your ongoing research and photos, Bobby.  My iPad is taking days to load this and the prior posts' photos, so this text-only reply will have to do.

The last two photos in your post of a trolley-to-restaurant conversion are actually one and the same.  That great Standard Diner photo is new to me but I recognized the photo just above it as a former trolley restaurant described by our friends at Hicks Car Works.  

They reported that the building consists of a 1912 Brill built as a Fresno Traction Dragon car and a 1925 Birney, apparently placed in an L-shaped configuration.  They dated the Standard Diner remodel to 1936.

The trolley restaurant was later turned into an office and at one point the interior was damaged by fire.  Google maps still shows it at 1732 S. Cherry Avenue in Fesno, CA.

Tomlinson Run Railroad

Colorado Springs & Interurban Railway Company

By 1902, the Colorado Springs & Interurban Railway Company consisted of a consolidation of the Colorado Springs Rapid Transit Railway and the Colorado Springs & Suburban Railway Company. Colorado Springs and Interurban Railway ridership peaked in 1911 and within three years it began to suffer financially as automobile ownership increased. By 1916 the system served Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs, Ivywild, and Roswell over 38 miles of track with 56 motor cars and 13 trail cars in 1917. Buses began replacing the system's trolley cars in 1931, and the last electric trolley ran on April 30, 1932. In the mid-1930s, the Works Progress Administration removed most of the street car rails.

Colorado Springs & Interurban Ry 135Colorado Springs & Interurban RyColorado_Springs_&_Interurban Ry DrawingColorado_Springs_&_Interurban_Railroad_car


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To get back to California trolleys for a minute. This afternoon I did some work on the brakes and air compressors on Sacramento Northern 1005. At the end of the day we took it for a ride to the end of the line to ensure everything was working properly. The trip south was in Salt Lake and Utah control trailer observation 751. I had a few minutes to take a short video on my phone. Nicest day so far this spring. Very pleasant ride. 

This is a 5 mile stretch of the Sacramento Northern, which has been restored by the Western Railway Musuem. If this was in the days of the SN, which discontinued electric operation here in 1957, we would have been traveling south about 5 miles short of the ferry slip where the electric trains crossed Suisun Bay.  On the other side of the bay the trip would have continued on about 30 miles to Oakland. 


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Last edited by David Johnston

The Key Route of California

The Key System (or Key Route) was a privately owned company that provided mass transit in the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Emeryville, Piedmont, San Leandro, Richmond, Albany, and El Cerrito in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area from 1903 until 1960, when it was sold to a newly formed public agency, AC Transit. The Key System consisted of local streetcar and bus lines in the East Bay, and commuter rail and bus lines connecting the East Bay to San Francisco by a ferry pier on San Francisco Bay, later via the lower deck of the Bay Bridge. At its height during the 1940s, the Key System had over 66 miles (106 km) of track. The local streetcars were discontinued in 1948 and the commuter trains to San Francisco were discontinued in 1958. The Key System's territory is today served by BART and AC Transit bus service.


Key Pier, 1909

Key Pier, 1909

Key SysKey System transbay train heading west on 12th Street at Broadway in Downtown Oakland, circa early 1940s.Key_Route_Ferry_Terminal_Oakland_California_5027key_systemkey-system-187San Francisco, Oakland & San Jose Railway



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This post is about the sole surviving street car in Wyoming.

In early 1910, Albert Emanuel and William Sullivan of the Electric Street Railway of Dayton, Ohio, proposed to build and operate an electric streetcar system in Sheridan, Wyoming. The proposed line would run through Sheridan and serve as a direct line to the nearby coal camps. The City of Sheridan quickly approved the proposal and by July of 1910, rails were being laid. In just over one year's time, the City Line was completed with service beginning on August 11, 1911.

Following the tremendous success of the City Line, a second route, known as the Fort Line, was established. The Fort Line was an extension from Main Street, up Lewis Hill to the county fairgrounds, across Deadman's Draw, and on to Fort Mackenzie - the present day VA Hospital. Once at the Fort, passengers would help turn the streetcar on a turntable for the ride back to town.

The streetcar service expanded even more with the construction of a 12-mile route from Sheridan to the nearby coal camps. This Interurban route was completed in February of 1912 and made stops at Dietz, Acme, Model, Carneyville, and Monarch. Sheridan's streetcar system has some 18 miles of track within the city, which included a short spur from the end of the City Line to the sugar factory on Coffeen Avenue. Over the years, the streetcar became the pride and joy of Sheridan and the nearby mining communities.

 After the city decided to repave downtown Main Street and not replace that stretch of double track due to decreases in passengers, service on the City Line was discontinued in September of 1923. The Fort Line continued to operate until March of 1924 when it was replaced by a bus. That left the Interurban routes to carry on as the last remaining electric railway in Wyoming. However, it was abandoned in June of 1926.

Fifty years after the streetcars made their last runs, the dilapidated body of one of the cars was discovered in a field near town. As part of the Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, #115 from the Fort Line was saved and renovated by local individuals, businesses and organizations. Today, #115 is the only remaining streetcar in the state of Wyoming. Restoration plans and preservation continue for streetcar #115 to this day including a custom made protective cover during the winter months.


Sheridan, Wyoming



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Last edited by Bobby Ogage

The Sheboygan Light, Power & Railway Company of Wisconsin

In 1889, the Sheboygan Electric Light Company began providing electricity to homes, and in 1893 it took over the money-losing horse-drawn streetcar system, renamed itself the Sheboygan Light, Power & Railway Company, and replaced the horses with electric-powered cars. The cars ran 19 hours on normal days, and to improve revenue, the system carried freight for Kohler Co., local cheese factories, and quarries. Gradually the system added track until by 1908 the rail line had extended service to Elkhart Lake. In 1908 the Sheboygan rail system also bought three new cars from the Cincinnati Car Company: #25, #26 and #27.

Sheboygan's electric rail system operated into the 1930s, but ridership began dropping in the early 1920s. Aiming to keep its rail system viable, Sheboygan expanded the freight service in 1930, joining with other railroads to haul loads to and from Chicago. This service was called the "Bathtub Special" because the main user was Kohler Company for its plumbing supply business. Service within Sheboygan ended in 1935 and the last run to Plymouth was in 1938.

As business waned, car #26 was sold in 1937 and became a summer cottage near Lake Michigan. By 1988 it was deteriorating, so it was donated it to the Friends of the East Troy Electric Railroad Museum. They restored it to near original condition. The car was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. Today the car is operated intermittently by the East Troy Museum, carrying visitors on the museum's 7.5 mile remnant of the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company's interurban line.


Sheboygan Power & Light Ry Car 26

Sheboygan Power & Light Ry Car 26

Sheboygan Power & Light Ry Car 28

Sheboygan Power & Light Ry Car 28

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Last edited by Bobby Ogage

Traction in Charleston, West Virginia

The Charleston Interurban Railroad Company was organized on July 28, 1909 for leasing and operating the Kanawha Valley Traction Company. The Kanawha Traction Company was organized on May 20, 1902 as the successor to the Charleston Street Railway. The properties were operated under the name of the Charleston Street Railway until the early part of 1902. It consisted of 6 miles of track and 12 mule-drawn cars, 6 of which were open summer cars. Also in 1902, the line was electrified with 8 open summer cars and 8 closed cars. A 40’ x 140’ brick powerhouse and car barn of the same size were erected. By 1905 the properties had a value of $200,000.

By 1906 the company extended the line 2.3 miles to Edgewood Park, and added 2 loops for an additional 2.3 miles of track. A new powerhouse was also built containing 300 horsepower boilers and a 400 kilowatt generator. A Kanawha & Michigan Railway bridge was purchased and a new bridge was built enabling the railroad to expand another 28 miles in 1907.

The Charleston Interurban Railroad also operated two interurban lines, one west to St. Albans built in 1912, and the other east to Cabin Creek built in 1916. At a receiver’s sale in 1935, the property passed into the hands of the Charleston Transit Company, which converted the entire operation to buses on June 29, 1939.

charleston_card023p_standardCharlston Traction Car 1Charlston Traction Car nCharlston Interurban RR Co. TicketCharlston Interurban RR Ticket nnStreet Car Barn on Virginia Street West 1920Charlston Interurban RR Co. Car 11Charlston Interurban RR Co. Car 29Charlston Interurban RR Co. Car 31Charlston Interurban RR Co. Car 44Charlston Interurban RR Co. Car 103Charlston Interurban RR Co. mCharlston Interurban RR Co. nCharlston Interurban RR Co. nnCharlston Interurban RR Co. nnnCharlston Interurban RR Co. nnnn


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  • Charleston Interurban RR Co.

The Yakima Valley Transportation Company of Washington

The Yakima Valley Transportation Company (YVT) began operations in 1907 as a streetcar line downtown. Although some freight operation took place almost from the beginning, streetcar service was the company's primary activity for its first several years, and interurban service extended to several areas. Its greatest length was just over 44 miles. Presently, approximately five miles of track remain that connect the cities of Yakima and Selah, Washington. Electric trains have operated on the YVT trackage every year since 1907.

From 1909 onward, the company was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad. Freight service expanded in the 1910s, and by 1920 it had become a major function of the YVT. Interurban service was discontinued on May 15, 1935.

The Yakima Valley Transportation Company operated the local streetcar system from 1907 until 1947. The first streetcars purchased new came from the Danville Car Company of Illinois, while later purchases were from the John G. Stephenson Company and the J. G. Brill Company.

Due to declining revenue, the Union Pacific filed for abandonment of the YVT and operation ceased on November 18, 1985. However, at the request of Yakima city officials, the Union Pacific donated the entire YVT railroad to the City of Yakima. This enabled the city to allow continued operation of a heritage streetcar service by the Yakima Valley Trolleys which currently operates. The donation included two of the railway's three locomotives, 1909 "Line car" A (for overhead line maintenance) and 1922 GE "steeple-cab" locomotive No. 298.[6] The third YVT electric locomotive, 1923 boxcab-type No. 297, was donated by UP to the Orange Empire Railway Museum.



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Washington-Virginia Railway of Northern Virginia

The Washington, Alexandria, and Mount Vernon Electric Railway merged with the Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway in 1913 to form the Washington-Virginia Railway. The trolley company went into receivership in 1923. In 1927, the two railways were separated and sold at auction. The last trolleys of the line ran on January 18, 1932. Later that year the tracks were removed when some of the right-of-way was used for the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The path of the trolley turnaround at Mount Vernon remains as a traffic circle at the south end of the Parkway, while the former rail yard in southern Arlington now serves as a Metrobus yard.

Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway

In 1896, the Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway began running electric trolleys from Rosslyn to Falls Church on the present routes of Fairfax Drive and I-66. By 1907, the line linked downtown Washington to Ballston, Vienna, and the Town of Fairfax.

Washington, Alexandria, and Mount Vernon Electric Railway

The Washington, Alexandria, and Mount Vernon Electric Railway served the populace of northern Virginia and began transporting people in 1892. This company ran between Alexandria and Mount Vernon. By 1896, the company had expanded and was using tracks owned by the Belt Line Street Railway Company in Washington D.C. Also by 1906, the railway reported transporting 1,743,734 passengers along its routes with 92 daily trains. During World War I, the line was extended to Camp Humphreys (now Fort Belvoir).

Washington, Alexandria & Mount Vernon Electric Railway

Washington, Alexandria & Mount Vernon Electric Railway

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Washington, Alexandria & Mount Vernon Electric Railway

Washington-Virginia Railway


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The Springfield Terminal Railway in Vermont

The Springfield Terminal Railway was only 8 miles long, operating between Springfield, Vermont, and Charlestown, New Hampshire. The railway opened in 1897 and it provided rail service to Springfield from a connection with the Boston & Maine Railroad. Freight was always a major contributor to revenue and when passenger service ended in 1947, electric locomotives continued until replaced by diesels in 1956. The company was originally the Springfield Electric Railway, but after a bankruptcy in 1918, it became the Springfield Terminal Railway in 1923. The line was controlled by the Boston & Maine for many years, and it became part of the Guilford Lines. When the railway changed its the Springfield Terminal Railway became the operating arm of the Guilford Lines and a major railroad system.


The above depicts  an Illinois Terminal  Motor and does not belong in this post.


T1e1d02680cf8f0930434e1e52744f033--terminal-vermont5c2037a3660e9cc169e8fd63711b6656labor rules,



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Last edited by Bobby Ogage

Well, I just had to ask, Bob. The IT did sell off some of it's Class A and B motor's to on line power plants, such as Danville, IL. at the end of electrification as diesels took over. My wife and I just seen the Class C and B motor's and the IT rail bus at the Museum of Transport near St. Louis, Mo. a few weeks ago.

Thank you for posting on this topic regularly, I enjoy seeing the photo's and reading about Interurban's and Trolley lines. I've always had an attraction to things that run under wire and down the middle of the street! Must be something I did and enjoyed in a past life. 


Random photos of trolley & interurban cars:


The hitchhiker is in for a surprise. The motorman in Car 3343 has his window open, and it wouldn't surprise me if the motorman has a club. These are New York City cars.

Hack Pat1[640)Pictures of traction in New Jersey are scarce.


This car originally operated in New York CityAllAboard

This car is in Kansas. Notice the bend in the trolley pole. That pole is exerting a lot of force on the overhead wire.


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