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