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What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
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   What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
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   Author  Topic: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?  (Read 189 times)
Norm_Anderson
Historian
Posts: 1726
What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 1:24pm »
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I have been privileged to lurk around these Forums for about a dozen years now, without being run off the property, but I just recently discovered to my surprise that there doesn't seem to be a thread devoted to the history of what was once billed as "The Largest Interurban Railway System In The World."
 
This Company once operated over a thousand miles of trackage, serving the urban core, the suburbs, small agricultural communities, and stops in the middle of nowhere.  Its rails ran on streets, on private rights-of-way, underground, along ocean beaches, and up winding mountain canyons.  The company handled passengers and freight, had holdings in real estate and electric power, and helped transform a small coastal city into a major metropolis.
 
I am referring, of course, to the  
 
Pacific Electric

 
 
Here, to get things rolling, is a Wiki article that gives an interesting overview to this truly monumental enterprise:
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Electric

 
 
And, three videos that help to tell the story:
 
1.  An overview of the Pacific Electric's "place" in Los Angeles history:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiLGui8fxiw

 
2.  A "cab ride" of the last regularly-scheduled passenger run on the PE, in 1961 (a trip I may have actually ridden with my parents when I was small)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebboO52ln1w

 
3.  When I was a child, I grew up in the city of Monrovia, along PE's Monrovia/Glendora Line, and though I missed seeing passenger service there, I recall the freight trains that still used the rails.  It is heartening to see the resurgence of light rail service through these communities under Metro Gold Line auspices.  (Note: The Metro Gold Line uses the former Santa Fe mainline, not the PE line, but still . . .)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vch246fd6NA

 
 
Regards,
 
Norm


« Last Edit: Jun 3rd, 2016, 2:03pm by Norm_Anderson » Logged
LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #1 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 1:35pm »
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Norm:
 
The "Big Red Car" mystique has been with us for decades; here was the world's largest electric railway, operating above ground, on the ground, and underground.....they operated everything from second-hand NWP and SP MU's (the "Blimps") to sleek, modern, double-ended PCC's.....they even operated buses!
 
One can only imagine what the face of California mass transit would be like today, had the PE survived long enough to have been incorporated into the "light rail mania" of later years......indeed, there would be few places you would not have been able to reach, with an electric railway of that vast scope available!
 
Though I hate to play favorites, my all-time favorite PE cars were the "Hollywood" cars and the "Blimps".....those distinctive cars seemed to shout out top the world: "RED CAR!"
 
Spencer Crump's "RIDE THE BIG RED CARS" is indeed a must for any serious "Red Car" enthusiast; PE's corporate history, you will find, is every bit as fascinating as its diverse electric fleet!
 
"Long Live The Red Car"!    
 
"L.F.L."


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #2 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 2:17pm »
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Here's an early view of one of PE's famed "Blimps"; these hulking monsters were once operated by both the SP and the NWP in the San Francisco area, until 1941.
 
These cars were originally equipped with sliding mesh gates at the vestibules; PE replaced these with conventional doors......
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/pe/htm/pe609.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #3 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 2:27pm »
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Here are two views of the "Blimps" before they came to the PE, running on the SP's IER and the NWP (the NWP cars operated off of third rail, while the SP's "Red Electrics" used pantographs).........
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/odds/ca/htm/nwp01.htm
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/odds/ca/htm/sp03.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix.com)


« Last Edit: Jun 3rd, 2016, 5:18pm by CLASSB » Logged
LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #4 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 2:35pm »
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When is a Red Car NOT a Red Car......  ??
 
"Blimp" #1543 was the only car painted in the new green Metropolitan Coach Lines colors; though the car still retained its stolid dignity, the green could never replace the familiar distinctiveness of the traditional red.....  
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/pe/htm/pe455.htm
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/pe/htm/pe456.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #5 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 2:42pm »
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Any discussion of the "Red Car" must include mention of LA's FIRST subway, operated by the PE......
 
http://www.awalkerinla.com/2012/05/11/las-original-subway
 
(courtesy: awalkerinla)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #6 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 2:53pm »
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See also:
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subway_Terminal_Building
 
http://wikimapia.org/1923553/Pacific-Electric-Belmont-Tunnel-Portal


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #7 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 2:56pm »
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A classic "awaiting the highball" scene at the Subway Terminal, 1947.....
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/pe/htm/pe090.htm


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #8 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 3:03pm »
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Action at the Subway portal.....
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/pe/htm/pe293.htm
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/pe/htm/pe322.htm
 
"LAST CAR TO OBLIVION" (1955).......
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/pe/htm/pe295.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #9 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 4:35pm »
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Excellent collection of rare PE photos.....
 
http://www.pacificelectric.org/category/pacific-electric/
 
(courtesy: pacificelectric.org)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #10 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 4:44pm »
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More PE photos.....
 
http://www.pacificelectric.org/tag/ralph-cantos-collection/page/5/
 
(courtesy: pacificelectric.org)


« Last Edit: Jun 3rd, 2016, 5:17pm by CLASSB » Logged
LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #11 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 6:52pm »
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If the "Red Car" was still with us......
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/pe/htm/pe404.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #12 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 7:09pm »
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Interesting reading on what caused the demise of the PE empire....
 
http://www.uncanny.net/~wetzel/pedemise.htm
 
(courtesy: uncanny.net)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #13 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 7:13pm »
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PE's Ocean Park car house yard ........man, what a museum collection these historic cars would make for today!
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/pe/htm/pe491.htm
 
(courtsey: newdavesrailpix)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #14 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 7:18pm »
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After reading this, one cannot help but wish that at least one of PE's handsome double-ended PCC's survived long enough to be preserved......
 
http://www.streetcar.org/streetcars/1061-1061-pacific-electric/
 
(courtesy: Market St. Railway)


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Norm_Anderson
Historian
Posts: 1726
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #15 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 7:48pm »
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on Jun 3rd, 2016, 7:18pm, LOCAL F LINE wrote:       (Click here for original message)
After reading this, one cannot help but wish that at least one of PE's handsome double-ended PCC's survived long enough to be preserved......
 
http://www.streetcar.org/streetcars/1061-1061-pacific-electric/
 
(courtesy: Market St. Railway)

 
Y'know, that MUNI tribute car is close enough.  I have many pleasant memories of riding MUNI's PCCs (usually, the "L" Taraval line out to the Zoo through the Twin Peaks tunnel).  I vividly recall how the Twin Peaks often served as a moderator of climate-- the tunnel itself was only about a mile long, but on the Market Street (east portal) side it would be 70 degrees and sunny, and five minutes later on the "ocean" (west portal) side it would be 55 and damp fog).  Great memories . . .
 
 
Regards,
 
Norm


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #16 on: Jun 3rd, 2016, 7:55pm »
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on Jun 3rd, 2016, 7:48pm, Norm_Anderson wrote:       (Click here for original message)

 
Y'know, that MUNI tribute car is close enough.  I have many pleasant memories of riding MUNI's PCCs (usually, the "L" Taraval line out to the Zoo through the Twin Peaks tunnel).  I vividly recall how the Twin Peaks often served as a moderator of climate-- the tunnel itself was only about a mile long, but on the Market Street (east portal) side it would be 70 degrees and sunny, and five minutes later on the "ocean" (west portal) side it would be 55 and damp fog).  Great memories . . .
 
 
Regards,
 
Norm

 
Norm:
 
I am now reminded of a "how to" kitbashing article in a circa-1960 issue of RMC (or MR) that I once had many, many years ago.
 
The article dealt with taking two HO scale PSM PCC car bodies and splicing them to create a double-ended PE PCC.
 
I was all about 5 years old at the time, but, man, it was love at first sight for yours truly!  
 
"L.F.L."


« Last Edit: Jun 4th, 2016, 1:33am by CLASSB » Logged
LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #17 on: Jun 4th, 2016, 8:07am »
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Another fine collection of PE photos......
 
http://www.pacificelectric.org/tag/ralph-cantos-collection/page/7/
 
(courtesy: pacificelectric.org)


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Norm_Anderson
Historian
Posts: 1726
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #18 on: Jun 4th, 2016, 3:52pm »
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Before there was Charles Lindbergh, before there was Henry Ford, before there was Thomas Edison, there was Thaddeus S. C. Lowe.  A native of New Hampshire, Lowe was a lifelong dreamer and inventor whose dreams and inventions brought good to the lives of people around him.
 
During the Civil War, Lowe (as a civilian) captained the Union Army's Balloon Corps, which advanced the practices of aerial reconnaissance.  After the War, he pursued the dream of trans-Atlantic ballooning (as a smoother and faster alternative, thirty years before the Wright Brothers, to the perilous crossing of the North Atlantic in the relatively small and fragile vessels of that time).  While this dream failed to materialize, Lowe was enormously successful in the field of hydrogen gas production, which helped to provide reliable heat and lighting to millions of homes and helped to usher in the "Gaslight Era" of the late 19th Century.  He also advanced the development of artificial ice, which had enormous benefits for food preservation and distribution.   In short, Lowe may have been second only to Edison in developments that improved the lives of everyday Americans during the late 19th Century.
 
In 1888, Thaddeus Lowe retired from his mid-life endeavors, and relocated his family to the mild, healthful climate of Pasadena, California (just northeast of Los Angeles, at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains).  Even in "retirement," Lowe was a developer and benefactor.  His love of astronomy led him to construct a working observatory atop one of the nearby peaks, and to develop and build a three-stage railway climbing to a resort above the clouds.  This venture began with high hopes, but after only a few years it was struggling, and fell into the receivership of Henry Huntington and the Pacific Electric.
 
Mount Lowe was touted as one of the Crown Jewels of the PE system, and for the first two decades of the 20th Century it was  a definite "tourist draw" for locals and distant visitors alike.
 
Here are a couple of links to this amazing PE curiosity:
 
 
http://www.mountlowe.org

 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCFR2pNKJDE

 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxXbFk61fmw

 
 
Regards,
 
Norm
 


« Last Edit: Jun 4th, 2016, 6:42pm by Norm_Anderson » Logged
LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: What's Big, and Red, and Runs All Over?
 
« Reply #19 on: Jun 4th, 2016, 4:40pm »
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Norm:
 
Hope you will enjoy these from my files.......
 
http://waterandpower.org/museum/Mt_Lowe_Railway.html
 
http://www.thaddeuslowe.name/mtlowe.htm
 
"L.F.L."


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