Trolleys and Interurbans, Classic American Streetcars
Trolleys and interurbans were once common throughout the country and could be found in cities both large and small. An interesting and unique part of railroading history traction systems were fondly remembered, particularly by those lines which served local towns and communities. Unfortunately for the trolley, while it offered flexibility and affordable fares it was mostly a money-losing operation as it was slower than traditional railroads, usually only served a local area, could never make a profit hauling passengers like railroads and lost out to more efficient modes of transportation as they became available. Today, though, these electrified operations are making a comeback (known as light rail transit or LRT) as folks look for alternatives to increasingly crowded highways.
Yakima Valley Transportation steeple cab #298 trundles through the streets of Yakima, Washington as it heads towards the Nob Hill and Congdon Orchards during August of 1971.
Classic streetcar systems have their roots dating back to the beginning of electrified railroad lines in the 1870s when Gramme and Siemens developed the first reliable and successful motors and dynamos. Over the next decade experimental electric locomotives (or "motors") cropped up around the country. However, it wasn't until Frank Sprague developed an electric motorcar in 1886 for the New York Elevated Railway whereby the motor(s) were situated within the axle, along with the trolley pole and multiple-unit control that the common trolley was born.
Another important developer of interurbans was Sidney Howe Short who invented a double-reduction and gearless motor along with learning that overhead catenary was usually the best means of obtaining power for motorcars (i.e., trolleys). Short also invented the contact "shoe". By the time main line electric applications were introduced in 1895 on the Baltimore & Ohio the technology was quite advanced. In 1885 there were only 48 miles of trolleys in the United States but by the end of the 19th century in 1899 this number had jumped to over 2,000 miles. At the peak of such operations the mileage had topped out at over 15,000 miles.
While this number may seem small most only served a local region, city or community and did not span more than a few miles in length. They became an extremely popular mode of transportation due to their reliability, ease of use and cheap fares. They operated over their own, dedicated rights-of-way although these were typically located next to or along traditional, heavy railroads or within public streets/roads (the classic portrait of a trolley is, of course, a motorcar traveling down the center of a city street).
MUNI PCC #1149 is about to head into the East Portal of Twin Peaks Tunnel in San Francisco during August of 1967. The tunnel and trackage are long gone today.
For power most interurbans used overhead catenary (energized electric lines attached to line-side poles), which was usually rated at about 600 volts. Although some used third-rail for power this was the exception. To produce the electricity for the operations interurbans either constructed their own substations or purchased the power outright. While most streetcar lines were small, local operations this was not always the case. Some, which were able to subsidize their passenger operations with freight were able to grow quite large. Some of these systems include the Chicago SouthShore & South Bend Railroad, Illinois Termimal, Pacific Electric and Iowa Traction (as it is known today). Since these systems were able to produce profits through freight service in conjunction with passenger operations they were able to outlive many of their brethren.
SEPTA Brilliner #6 rolls down Springfield Road at Clifton, Pennsylvania headed towards Sharon Hill in May of 1976.
Trolleys were most successful from the late 19th century through the 1930s and can best be characterized by the "Dot Com" boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s, they flourished for a moment and then died out. Being regional and local in nature they simply could not compete with the automobile once it debuted in the early 20th century and then was aided by the development of better highways and roads. By the 1950s most interurban railroads were out of business due to high capital costs and low ridership, although some were able to hang on until the early 1960s. Those able to survive did so only after recognizing that passenger service was a money-losing operation that must be scrapped and concentrated solely on freight traffic. Of course, to do so the system had to be large enough to offer enough such service to be profitable, such as was the case with the Illinois Central and Chicago South Shore.
Finally, for a state-by-state history please click here. While the classic trolleys are mostly a thing of the past they are not entirely gone. SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) operates a section of original traction lines in Philadelphia and the South Shore Line's operations remain in use, operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD). And that is not all, as highways become more cramped and overcrowded small, true trolley lines are beginning to pop up in cities across the country, even small ones! Finally, below you can learn more about most of the interurbans that operated in each state. In general, the industry tended to be centered around the Midwest with Ohio the epicenter; overall, Ohio's mileage peaked at 2,798 and every town in the state larger than 10,000 was served by at least one system.
If one is able to see a system map of Ohio's interubans many are concentrated, as to be expected, around the large cities such as Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus, Canton, Cleveland, and Dayton. Interestingly, there were few systems southeast of Columbus with notables located around Zanesville, Ashland, and Marietta. Nearby states also had significant interurban mileage such as Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. However, most of the southern states had relatively few systems, as did much of west. In the west this can be explained by the fact that large cities are spread far apart making interurbans even more redundant than they already were. However, it is rather strange that the south never established a significant network of streetcar lines considering it was similar to the Midwest in having many cities relatively close together. Also of note was the Northeast.
A few states like New York and New Jersey had a large network of interurbans. However, most (such as Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, etc.) were littered with streetcar railroads, or systems which served a particular city/town only (and did not connect two or more locations such as what is often considered to be an interurban). In any event, some of these lines are also included here for reference purposes. Overall, if you would like to learn much more about the interurban industry and its rise and fall consider picking up a copy of The Electric Interurban Railways in America by authors George Hilton and John Due. This is the authoritative book on the subject, interesting written roughly a half-century ago but still in print.
Alabama Power Company: Today the Alabama Power Company is
a electricity provider to over one million customers but back during
the early 20th century it also owned a number of streetcar railroad
operations including in the cities of Anniston, Montgomery and
Tuscaloosa. Most of its operations were out of business and shutdown by
Mobile Light & Railroad Company: The Mobile Light & Railroad Company began operations in 1893 serving Mobile.
It operated until 1939 at which point it had grown to a nearly 50 mile
system. The interurban was shutdown that year when its president died,
J. Howard Wilson and it was acquired by the National City Lines, which converted all operations to bus-only operations.
Capital City Electrical Railway, "The Lightning Route": The Capital City Electrical Railway, also known as the Lightning Route, began operations on April 15, 1886 serving Montgomery
and was one of the first to recognize that dense commercial and
residential areas within a city should be separated. It operated for
exactly 50 years before the service was replaced by buses. Today,
Montgomery is attempting to rebuild a small interurban operation.
Tanana Valley Railroad: The Tanana Valley Railroad was
a small battery-powered system that connected Chena and Fairbanks.
This interurban would eventually became part of the Alaska Railroad.
Fort Smith Traction Light & Power Company: The Fort Smith
Traction Light & Power
Company was formed in 1903 by the merger of the Fort Smith Railway
Company (incorporated in 1883) and the Fort Smith & Van Buren
Electric Street Railway Light & Power Company (incorporated in
1893). After the railroad came under the control of Oklahoma Gas & Electric in 1933 it was abandoned in November of that same year.
Arkansas Power & Light Company: The Arkansas Power
Company began operations on November 4, 1886 as the Citizens Street
Railway Company, originally using mules and horses for power. It gained
electric operation in 1902 now known as the Citizens Light &
Transit Company operating about 8 miles of trackage. It reached its
peak length of 11 miles in 1918 and again changed its name to the Pine
Bluff Company. By 1930 the Arkansas Power & Light Company (created
in 1914) took over operations and replaced the operation with buses.
Southwestern Gas & Electric Company: The Southwestern Gas & Electric
Company was a small interurban operation in Texarkana that operated
until 1935 having been acquired by the Middle West Utilities Company in
Walnut Ridge & Hoxie Traction Company: The earliest
history of the Walnut Ridge & Hoxie Traction Company (also known as
the Walnut Ridge & Hoxie, Light, Power
and Transit Company) was opened in 1899 connecting the towns of Hoxie
and Walnut Ridge, a distance of about 1 1/2 miles. The WR&HLP&T
was created in 1903, gained electric operation in 1906 and changed its
name to the Central Power and Light Company in 1918. It abandoned all operations in 1928.
Phoenix Street Railway: The Phoenix Street Railway began operations in 1887 originally using horse-powered carts although it switched to electric
streetcars in 1893. The system was one of the larger interurbans in
the country reaching as far as Glendale, a distance of nearly 11 miles.
It operated until October of 1947 when a fire destroyed most of the
streetcar fleet. Today, light rail is making a return to Phoenix and the Arizona Street Railway Museum keeps alive the memory of the Phoenix Street Railway.
Tuscon Street Railway: The Tuscon Street Railway began
operations in 1898 connecting the Southern Pacific Railroad's station
along Toole Avenue with the University of Arizona's campus. It changed its name to the Tuscon
Rapid Transit Company in 1905 and reached its final length of 8 1/4
miles in 1904. It operated until December 31, 1930 when the service was
converted over to buses. Today the interurban has been partially
revived under the direction of the Old Pueblo Trolley project.
Warren-Bisbee Railway: This system was the one true
Arizona interurban located in the state. It began operations on March
11, 1908 serving Warren and Bisbee, a distance of 8 miles, in the
state's southeastern regions where copper mining was becoming prevalent
(very close to the Mexican border). The building of the line was during
the second big boom of construction
of the interurban industry, the first occurring during the first few
years of the 20th century. The company became profitable enough to also
construct a four-mile spur serving an area outside of Warren that was
rich in lumber traffic. Overall the Warren-Bisbee was a poorly built
system with 7% or higher grades along much of its main line. As the
copper industry played out and automobile use increased the line was abandoned by 1928.
& Kern Electric Railway: The Bakersfield & Kern Electric
back to 1902 and operated between the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe
Railway's depot (located in Bakersfield) and Southern Pacific's station
located in East Bakersfield. After its purchase by the San Joaquin
Light And Power Company in 1910 the interurban became one of the
top-notch operations in the country with double-tracking spanning the
entire line. In 1933 the line was sold by San Joaquin Light and Power
and nine years later in February of 1942 the operation was shifted
entirely to bus service.
Interurban Electric Railway (IER): The Interurban Electric
Railway was a Southern Pacific company that served Berkeley, Oakland
and San Leandro (the "East Bay" of the San Francisco Bay Area). It
began operations in 1911 and used large, heavyweight streetcars. Its
routes included the CaliforniaStreet
Line, Shattuck Avenue Line, Ninth Street Line, Ellsworth Street Line,
Dutton Avenue Line, Alameda Lines, Horseshoe Line and 18th Street Line.
The IER operated until 1941 when the remnants of the interurban were
taken over by the Pacific Electric Railway.
Pacific Cement & Aggregates: The Pacific Cement &
Aggregates Company was actually a cement plant serving Davenport. It
operated a short interurban operation as well as a freight system that
moved its products to market using electric motors. The railroad remained in service until the 1970s.
Eureka Municipal Railway: The Eureka Municipal Railway was created in 1888 during the city's booming years. It updated to electric
operation in 1903 and by 1915 the system was operating five different
lines radiating out from the city. It lasted until early 1940 when the
interurban system was replaced by buses.
Fresno Traction: Fresno Traction has its earliest roots
dating back to early 1889 as the Fresno Street Railroad. In 1901 this
railroad was taken over by the Fresno City Railway and after the system
was electrified in 1902 its name was changed to the Fresno
Traction Company. At its peak the system was operating a 50-mile
network. The interurban lasted until May 20, 1939 when it was converted
to bus service.
Nevada County Traction Company: The Nevada County
Traction Company was a short interurban operation serving Grass Valley
and Nevada City. It was a shortlived operation lasting only until
November 5, 1923.
Los Angeles Interurban Railway: The Los Angeles
Interurban Railway or LAIU was one of several interurbans serving the
city. It began operations in 1903 and lasted until 1910 when virtually
all of L.A.'s interurbans were folded into the "Great Merger" coming
under the control of the Pacific Electric Railway, a Southern Pacific
Railroad company. Other systems included in the Great Merger included
the Los Angeles Railway, Los Angeles Traction Company,
California-Pacific Railway and the Los Angeles-Pacific Railway.
Tidewater Southern Railway: The Tidewater Southern Railway served, , Stockton and Modesto
and was originally incorporated in 1910. Later it also connected
Turlock and Hilmar. The Tidewater Southern became a Western Pacific
Railroad subsidiary in 1917 and while it was initially built as an
interurban its passenger services were abandoned in 1932 entirely and
became a freight-only operation. The TS remained a mostly independent
railroad until the 1960s when the WP mostly absorbed the system. Today,
most of the railroad remains in service under Union Pacific, one of the
few interurbans to still see most of its original property in service.
East Bay Transit: East Bay Transit, began serving Oakland
in 1886 and is still operating today. The original streetcar service
became the Key System in 1893, which ultimately would serve most of the
surrounding communities. In 1956 the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit
District (AC Transit) was created to takeover the failing Key System,
which began operations in 1960. The service remains an important
transportation artery for commuters today.
San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, Consolidated Railway:
The aforementioned Key System originally began as the ,San Francisco,
Oakland and San Jose, Railway, which was incorporated in 1902. It
served downtown ,Berkeley and the nearby ferry pier. It changed its
name to the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, Consolidated Railway in
1908 and again in 1912 to the ,San Francisco-Oakland, Terminal Railway.
The operation went bankrupt in 1923 and was then reorganized as the Key System.
Ontario & San Antonio Heights: The Ontario & San
Antonio Heights was a predecessor of the Pacific Electric Railway
becoming part of the PE's vast Northern District.
Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railroad: The Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railroad was an interurban operation serving Petaluma, Sebastopol, Forestville and Santa Rosa.
It began operations in 1903 taking over a horse-powered operation
which dated back to 1888. The line was taken over by the Northwestern
Pacific Railroad in 1928 and rail service ended in 1933.
Riverside & Arlington Railway: The Riverside &
Arlington Railway Company began in 1887 and in 1890 took over the
operations of the Riverside Railway Company and then the Hall's Addition
Railway in 1895. It eventually became part of the Pacific Electric Railway.
Pacific Gas & Electric Company: The Pacific Gas & Electric is an electric
and gas utility still operating today but it got into the interurban
and streetcar business in 1906 when it took over the operations of the ,Sacramento, Electric,
Gas & Railway Company. The interurban operated as the PG&E
until 1943 when it was sold to the ,Sacramento, City Lines and later the
National City Lines, which abandoned all rail operations on April 1,
San Diego & Southeastern Railway: The San Diego &
Southeastern Railway took over the operations of the Coronado Railroad
and National City & Otay Railway. The interurban would go on to
serve ,San Diego,
National City, Chula Vista and Ota. It operated until 1918 when it
became part of the Pacific Electric Railway.
San Francisco, Napa and Calistoga Railway: The San Francisco, Napa and Calistoga
Railway began operations in 1905 and would ultimately serve Calistoga,
Napa, Yountville and St. Helena with a system covering 43 miles. It
remained in service until 1937 when passenger operations ended and
Southern Pacific picked up the line for freight services (which lasted
until 1987). The SFN&C itself lasted until 1957 when it was
Peninsular Railway: The Peninsular Railway served San
Jose and Palo Alto (today's "Silicon Valley"). It began operations in
1906 as a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific. It reached its peak in
1920 covering 68 miles and today much of the railroad is operated by the
Caltrain commuter service.
Northwestern Pacific Railroad: The Northwestern Pacific Railroad was a regional freight railroad serving the Redwood Empire of Northern California.
However, until 1941 the NWP also operated an electrified interurban
operation serving Marin County. The railroad itself lasted on paper
until 1992 when it was dissolved into Southern Pacific.
Santa Cruz, Capitola & Watsonville Railway: The Santa Cruz,
Capitola & Watsonville Railway was an interurban operation serving
its namesake cities. It lasted only until 1905 when it became part of
the Union Traction Company.
Central California Traction: The Central California
Traction Company remains in operation today as a shortline, Class III
freight railroad dating back to 1905 (although it is currently owned by
Union Pacific and BNSF Railway). The railroad began operations as the
Central California Traction Company but was purchased by the Atchison,
Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, Southern Pacific and Western Pacific in
1928 becoming Central California Traction. At that time it served as an
interurban operation linking Stockton, Lodi and Sacramento.
Today it still operates about 15 miles of railroad hauling freight and
serving local ports.
Visalia Electric Railroad: The Visalia Electric Railroad
was a subsidiary of Southern Pacific serving Tulare County. It began
operations on April 22, 1904 and served as an interurban railroad until
1924 when passenger service was discontinued. Its electric operations
remained until 1933 when they too were shutdown. The freight services
were carried on until 1992 when operations were discontinued altogether.
Sacramento Northern Railway: The Sacramento Northern was
an interurban that dated back to the very early 20th century and was
assembled by H.A. Butters and the Sloss-Lilienthal interest of San
Fransisco (Pacific Gas & Electric). The company would grow into a
system that stretched 183 miles serving Hamilton City, Chico, Marysville
above Sacramento and reached Oakland/San Francisco to the south. The
interurban was one of the best engineered ever built although its
profits did not mirror its high level of construction (and probably
would not have survived without purchase by the WP). It was renamed the
Sacramento Northern Railroad in 1914 after entering bankruptcy. The SN
essentially was formed through two systems; the Northern Electric
Railway located above Sacramento (serving the area's mentioned above)
and the original Oakland & Antioch (later Eastern was added and
became known as the OA&E) to the south. The SN became an official
subsidiary of the Western Pacific in 1922.
Sacramento Valley West Side Electric Railway: A poorly
planned system meant to connect Dixon Junction with the OA&E,
through Dixon and on to Marysville. Unfortunately, the system never
made it any further north than Dixon a distance of 12 miles. Operations
began on January 1, 1915 and operated under contract by the OA&E
but with Dixon only carrying a population of 1,000 there was never any
profit potential and service was abandoned by August, 1917.
Central California Traction Company: This interurban was
another of California's larger and better engineered systems with a
profitable freight business, dating back to September, 1907. It too,
served Sacramento where it connected with the SN and stretched south to
Stockton and Modesto. Its branches served Lodi, Bellota, Manteca, and
empire. Early on the system became a subsidiary of the Southern
Pacific, Western Pacific, and Santa Fe. It abandoned all passenger
services in 1946 and scrapped electrified operations that same year.
Today, the shortline is still in service and remains jointly owned by
Union Pacific and BNSF Railway.
Pacific Coast Railway Company: This line began operations
as a narrow-gauge freight system, changing over to electrified
operations in 1908. At its peak it served San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria,
and Los Olivos. It later extended to Guadaloupe where it interchanged
passenger, and some freight, with the SP. With little freight traffic
service was abandoned by 1928 in favor of buses.
Watsonville Traction Company: Later known as the Watsonville
Railway & Navigation Company its six-mile system between Watsonville
and Watsonville Beach operated for just seven years until ending
service by 1917.
Pacific Electric Railway: At its peak the PE was the
largest interurban ever built in the United States, operating a total of
more than 1,000 miles of rails, with about 700 of these miles main line
routes. To learn more please click here.
Glendale & Montrose Railway: This interurban began
operations in 1908 serving its namesake towns as well as Eagle Rock and
La Crescenta, and also reached the outskirts of Los Angeles via trackage
rights over the UP. Service was abandoned in 1930.
Boulder Street Railway: The Boulder Street Railway was
built and operated by Western Power & Light. It began operations
in 1899 operating a three-mile stretch of track, which mostly served
Colorado University. It operated until June of 1931 when it was
abandoned in favor of buses.
Cripple Creek District Railway: The Cripple Creek
District Railway was incorporated in 1897 to serve Cripple Creek,
Poverty Gulch, Midway and Portland Mine. Just two years later in 1899
it became part of the Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District
Railway. The railroad eventually operated 12 miles of track and became
part of the Colorado & Southern Railway 1904. All operations were
abandoned in 1920.
Denver & Intermountain Railroad: The Denver &
Intermountain Railroad opened in 1893 connecting Denver and Golden, a
distance of 23 miles. It was originally steam powered but switched to
electric in 1909. While the railroad was mostly an interurban
operation it also had some freight service.
Interestingly, the railroad lasted until March 15, 1953 when all
services were suspended (passenger service had ended in 1950).
Denver & Interurban Railroad: The Denver & Interurban Railroad was a Colorado & Southern subsidiary and connected Denver to Boulder,
a distance of 51 miles. It began electric operation in 1908 employing
11,000-volt AC system for power. Being the only service between the two
cities the railroad saw heavy traffic but unfortunately few profits.
It was no longer profitable after 1923 and ended operations on December
Durango Railway & Realty Company:
The Durango Railway & Realty Company was one of the smallest
interurbans ever operated connecting Durango and Las Animas, a distance
of just two miles. It ceased operations in 1921.
Southern Denver Light & Power Company: The Southern Denver
Light & Power Company operated a short electric interurban
operation through the town of Pueblo. It operated until the early
Grand River Valley Railroad: The Grand River Valley
Railroad, the "Fruit Belt Route". It served Grand Junction and Fruita
and also operated freight service to the nearby fruit and vegetable
farming in the area. It was completed in 1910 as the Grand Junction
& Grand River Valley but the name was shortened in 1914. It was
unable to remain profitable after the Great Depression and was shutdown in 1935.
Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway: The CS&CCD was a successor of the Cripple Creek
District Railway mentioned above and its earliest history dates back to
1897. It operated some extremely steep lines, as high as 7.5% and
began further expansions around 1899. At its peak the interurban served
Cripple Creek, Poverty Gulch, Midway, Battle Mountain,
Elkton, and other small mining communities. Given that it was located
in the hear of the state's mining region it offered both extensive
freight and passenger service although its extremely steep main line,
which crossed Hoosier Pass (making it the highest altitude interurban
ever operated), made for difficult operations. In 1904 the system came
under the control of the C&S. On November 21, 1919 a fire severely
crippled operations when the carbarn was destroyed and much of the
equipment. Profits already been very thin it was abandoned in 1920.
Trinidad Electric Transmission Railway & Gas Company:
interurban dated back to its opening on April 28, 1904 serving
Trinidad, Sopris, and Starkville. Later, operations were extended to
Cokedale. While just over ten miles in length it featured grades
surpassing 7%, which made operations difficult. With only small
communities served passenger service was abandoned in 1923 while freight
service remained until after World War II.
Bristol Traction Company: The Bristol Traction Company began operations to serve the Lake Compounce amusement park
near Bristol. It originally began as the Bristol-Plainview Tramway but
changed its name to Bristol Traction in 1927. The service was
abandoned in 1935.
Danbury & Bethel Street Railway: The Danbury &
Bethel Street Railway began operations in 1887 serving its namesake
cities on a 15-mile system. The line ran into financial
trouble as early as 1914 and was discontinued altogether in favor of
buses by December of 1926.
Shore Line Electric Railway: The Shore Line Electric
Railway was constructed to compete with the New York, New Haven &
Hartford Railroad between New Haven and points in eastern Connecticut.
It began service in 1910 originally connecting Saybrook and Stony Creek.
Later, the company opened lines serving North Branford, Deep River,
and Chester. After this time the interurban mostly grew through
acquisitions; such as the East Lyme Street Railway and Norwich &
Westerly Traction Company. At its peak the company operated more than
250 miles of trackage. Unfortunately, the line was brought down by two
vicious collisions that occurred during June and July, 1919. Strikes
and resentment towards the company resulted in its bankruptcy
by that October. Interestingly, this was not the end of the story.
The railroad reorganized and changed its name to the New Haven &
Shore Line Railway in 1923 again resuming operations. However, it also
ended in failure and was converted to buses in 1929.
Hartford Street Railway: The Hartford Street Railway was a
merger in 1893 of two horse-drawn operations the Hartford &
Wethersfield Horse Railroad and East Hartford & Glastonbury Horse
Railroad. Soon after it was converted to electric streetcars and was
subsequently sold to the Consolidated Railway in 1904, which became the
Connecticut Company in 1907. The Connecticut
Company, a subsidiary of the NYNH&H, controlled or owned most
interurban operations in the state. The company remained in operation
all of the way up until 1976 when it became Connecticut Transit, a state
funded and operated commuter agency.
Hartford Suburban: The Hartford Suburban system was a
small interurban operation serving Hartford and was shortlived becoming
part of the Connecticut Company in 1894.
Hartford, Manchester & Rockville Tramway Company: The Hartford,
Manchester & Rockville Tramway Company was a subsidiary of the
South Manchester Light Power & Tramway Company, both of which were
incorporated in 1894. The interurban connected its namesake cities and
became part of the Connecticut Company in 1907.
Meriden, Southington & Compounce Tramway: The
Meriden, Southington & Compounce Tramway was an interurban railroad
operation serving Meriden and began operations in 1898. In 1902 it was
sold to the Connecticut Railway and Lighting Company, which leased out
the streetcar operation to the Connecticut Company until service was
discontinued in 1936.
Meriden Electric Railroad: The Meriden Electric Railroad
was another interurban serving Meriden and lasted until 1904 when it
became part of Consolidated Railway (predecessor to the Connecticut Company).
Central Railway & Electric Company: The Central
Railway & Electric Company was incorporated in 1886 and served New
Britain. In 1899 it was to Connecticut Light & Power (later the
Connecticut Railway & Lighting Company) and all operations leased to
the Connecticut Company until 1936.
Fair Haven & Westville Railroad: The Fair Haven &
Westville Railroad dates back to 1861 as a horse-powered interurban
railroad operation serving New Haven. In 1893 the system switched to electric
power and would go on to take over most of NYNH&H's interurban
operations including the New Haven & Centreville Street Railway, New
Haven Street Railway and Winchester Avenue Railway. It became part of
the Consolidated Railway in 1904, a Connecticut Company predecessor.
Torrington & Winchester Street Railway: The
Torrington & Winchester Street Railway served Torrinigton and began
operations in 1897. It became part of the Connecticut Company's
Torrington and Winsted Division in 1915 and was abandoned in 1929.
Waterbury and Milldale Tramway: The Waterbury and
Milldale Tramway served its namesake cities operating a 9.2 mile system.
It lasted until October 29, 1933 when the remaining 4.7 miles of the
system were abandoned in favor of buses.
Berkshire Street Railway: A subsidiary of the New Haven
system, this interurban was created by the railroad through smaller
lines, notably the Hoosick Falls Railroad. It was the only interurban
serving four states and reaching such towns as Canaan, Connecticut;
Pittsfield, Massachusetts; Bennington, Vermont; and Hoosick Falls, New
York. The company slowly cutback operations beginning as early as 1917
and total abandonment came on November 12, 1932 when the system was
converted to bus service.
Wilmington & Elsmere Electric Railway Company:
The Wilmington & Elsmere Electric Railway Company was completed in
1895 connecting Wilmington to Brandywine Springs Park. It lasted only
until 1900 when it was taken over by the Peoples Railway Company.
Wilmington City Railway: The Wilmington City Railway was
the city's first dating back to June 28, 1864. It remained a
horse-powered operation until it switched to electric
streetcars in 1888. The interurban would become the city's largest
taking over several smaller companies. It lost its original identity
when it merged with the Delaware Electric Power Company in 1936. Soon
after in 1940 rail service ended switching to buses.
Wilmington & Philadelphia Traction Company: The
W&PTC operated a system serving Wilmington, Chester, and even
reaching Philadelphia by 1899. Overall it was the state's largest
streetcar operation. It also controlled small streetcar systems serving
Stanton, Delaware City, and New Castle. It remain in operation until
around the mid-1930s when services were finally replaced by buses.
Jackson & Sharp Company: The Jackson & Sharp
Company wasn't actually an interurban railroad but it did build
streetcars in Wilmington, Delaware from 1863 until 1901 when it was
purchased by railcar giant American Car and Foundry.
Anacostia & Potomac Railroad: The Anacostia & Potomac
Railroad was incorporated in 1870 through an act of Congress and was
the fourth such system to operate in the district upon its creation.
The company switched from horse power to electric streetcars in 1900 and
at the peak of its operation served Union Town (now Historic
Anacostia), Arsenal (now Fort McNair), Congressional Cemetery, Central
Market and to the Government Hospital for the Insane. The A&P's
independence on August 31, 1912 when it was taken over by the Washington
Railway & Electric Company.
Capital Traction Company: The Capital Traction Company
was created in 1895 through the merger of the Rock Creek Railway and
Washington & Georgetown Railroad. The interurban would become the
second-largest in the district behind the Washington Railway &
Electric Company. It operated until December 1, 1933 when, to survive
the depression years, it merged with all of the remaining interurbans in
the district (Washington Railway, Capital Traction and Washington Rapid
Transit) to form the Capital Transit Company.
City & Suburban Railway: The City & Suburban
Railway began operations in 1899 and its original route mostly followed
the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's Washington Branch. The system would
become part of the Washington Railway & Electric Company.
Metropolitan Railroad: The Metropolitan Railroad was the
district's second interurban ever built beginning operations in 1864
connecting the Capitol with the War Department. It switched from horse
power to electric
streetcars in 1888 and through merger (including the Boundary &
Silver Spring Railway Company, Connecticut Avenue & Park Railway and
Union Railroad) and expansion served virtually all quadrants of the
city. It became part of the Washington Railway & Electric Company on February 4, 1902.
Washington & Georgetown Railway: The Washington
& Georgetown Railway was the district's first beginning operations
in 1862 connecting Georgetown and the Navy Yard. On September 21, 1895
it was taken over by the Rock Creek Railway creating a new company the Capital Traction Company.
Washington & Glen Echo Railroad: The Washington &
Glen Echo Railroad connected Glen Echo, Maryland with the Tennallytown
& Rockville Railroad in Friendship Heights. It began as the Glen
Echo Railroad incorporated by brothers Edwin and Edward Baltzley in 1889
and began operations on June 10, 1891. It was renamed the Washington
& Glen Echo Railroad when it expanded to serve Willard Avenue and
Chevy Chase Circle, connecting there with the Rock Creek Railway. The
railroad was shutdown in 1900.
Washington Railway & Electric Company: The
Washington Railway & Electric
Company would go on to be the districts largest single interurban
company (prior to all of the mergers in the 1930s). In essence the
WR&E's system was created through many mergers and takeovers by
smaller companies, partly mandated by Congress to create some kind of
unity in a system that was not only incompatible with one other (such as
different track gauges) but also unwilling to work together. The
WR&E itself was created on February 4, 1902 when the Washington
& Great Falls Electric Railway changed its name to the Washington
Railway & Electric
Company. It also operated the Washington & Baltimore Suburban
Lines, which served Georgetown and eastern regions of Washington, D.C.
The WR&E would serve much of the district as well as Maryland
suburban areas. It remained the dominant streetcar line until the
"Great Merger" of 1933 creating the Capital Transit Company.
Washington Terminal: The Washington Terminal Company was
more of a commuter rail system
than a streetcar, interurban service. It
was created in 1901 and jointly owned by the B&O and Philadelphia,
Baltimore & Washington Railroad (a PRR subsidiary) to provide
auxiliary service for railroad using Washington Union Station. It
remained in operation through the private passenger train era and was
taken over by Amtrak in 1981.
Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Electric Railway:
The WB&A was the most prominent system serving the district. Its
earliest history dated back to 1899 connecting the two largest
populations, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., a distance of 38 miles. It
would late reach other areas such as Annapolis and Fort George G.
Meade, operating a system that stretched 83 miles in length (it had an
additional connection to Annapolis through ownership of the Annapolis
Short Line from Baltimore). The Great Depression was hard on the company but it was still earning
nearly $1 million in annual revenue when it decided to abandon in 1934.
The original Annapolis Short Line route was taken over by the
Baltimore & Ohio and renamed the Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad
where it continued to offer freight service for many years.
Washington & Virginia Railway: The W&V dated back
to the Washington & Mt. Vernon of 1890 originally connecting Mt.
Vernon, Alexandria and Washington by 1896. The Washington &
Virginia was created in 1910 to take over smaller systems in the area
that also connected to Fairfax, Clarendon, Rosslyn, Fort Myer, and
Nauck. Its overall system stretched about 50 miles in length. Never a
highly profitable system it was in bankruptcy by 1924 but reorganized
three years later as two separate systems; the Washington, Alexandria
& Mt. Vernon and Fairfax Electric
Railway. The WA&MV lasted until only January 17, 1932 when the
government requisitioned the company's property in Washington, D.C. to
for new federal buildings. The A&F carried on until 1939 when its
lines were replaced with buses.
Washington & Old Dominion Railway:
The W&OD had a fascinating history. It began life as a common
freight railroad, established in 1858 and eventually connected
Alexandria and Leesburg, Virginia known as the Alexandria, Loudon &
Hampshire. The original operators envisioned the line reaching
Cumberland, Maryland although funds
never allowed such grand hopes. It did reach Round Hill, Virginia in
1874 before becoming a subsidiary of the Southern Railway in 1894. In
1912 the Washington & Old Dominion was incorporated to lease the
original AL&H from the Southern and strung catenary to operate the
system as an interurban as well. It would merge with the Great Falls
& Old Dominion giving it a system also serving Georgetown, Bluemont,
Leesburg, Rosslyn, Thrifton, and Great Falls. As passenger traffic
declined services were cut back through 1941 until the company outright
purchased the remaining trackage from the Southern. It was around this
time that a significant freight business was built up sustaining the
company and allowing it to earn substantial profits (relative to what it
normally saw). In 1956 it came under Chesapeake & Ohio control
which continued to operate its remaining lines for many years.
Manatee Light & Traction Company: The Manatee Light &
Company was a shortlived interurban railroad chartered by Captain
Hartwell Davis in 1903 connecting Fogartyville, Bradentown and Manatee.
It also offered freight service but both it and passenger operations
were only seasonal in nature. It lasted only until 1906 when the
project was abandoned.
Coral Gables Municipal Railway: The Coral Gables
Municipal Railway served the Coral Gables area and once operated two
lines from downtown Miami to Coral Gables
as well as two other lines connecting southern and western points.
After a hurricane hit the region on November 4, 1935 two of its lines
were indefinitely knocked out of service and soon after all operations
Central of Florida Railway:
The Central of Florida Railway served Daytona Beach using
battery-powered streetcars. It remained in operation until 1918 when
service was discontinued.
Key West Electric Company: The Key West Electric Company
began operations as the Key West Street Car Company using horse-powered
cars. It became Key West Electric in 1898 converted to electric
streetcars. It remained in operation serving the Keys until 1933.
Miami Beach Electric Railway: The Miami Beach Electric
Railway began as the Miami Beach Electric
Company beginning operations rather late in 1920 (although the city had
streetcar service dating back to the beginning of the century). The
system soon became known as the Miami Beach Electric Railway and served
Miami and Miami Beach. It was sold to the American Power and Light
Company in 1924.
Pensacola Electric Terminal Railway: The
Pensacola Electric Terminal Railway began operations in 1897 after
purchasing the defunct Pensacola Terminal Company. It converted to
operation in November of that year and at its peak operated 21.4 miles
of track and 45 passenger cars, of which the downtown region was
double-tracked. It remained in operation until 1945 when it was
purchased by Pensacola Transit, Inc.
Atlanta Northern Interurban Railway: The Atlanta Northern
Interurban Railway served a roughly sixteen-mile system in the Atlanta
area. Part of its system is still used by the Metropolitan Atlanta
Rapid Transit Authority today.
Columbus Railroad Company: The Columbus Railroad Company
served its namesake city operating a few miles of track within the city
and was the first being chartered in 1866. It switched to electric
operation in 1894 when it built one of the first hydroelectric power
plants in the State of Georgia. The railroad disappeared into merger
in 1922 when it purchased the Columbus Power Company becoming the
Columbus Electric & Power Company.
Gainesville Street Railway: The Gainesville Street Railway was
short-lived interurban serving its namesake city. It lasted only until
1890 and much of its track was taken up in the 1940s for the war effort.
Savannah Electric Company: The Savannah Electric
Company was the primary interurban serving the city and operated on an
unusual five-foot gauge system. The system was abandoned in 1946.
Valdosta Street Railway: The Valdosta Street Railway
began operations in 1898 operating a system that served Toombs,
Patterson, Ashley, Lee, Troup, Hill, Central, Crane and Gordon Streets
of Valdosta. It was abandoned in 1925.
Augusta-Aiken Railway: This was one of Georgia's true
interurban system. It began operations on September 8, 1902 as the
Augusta & Columbia Railway, serving its namesake cities. A
subsidiary of the Georgia-Carolina Power Company it was renamed as the
August-Aiken Railway in 1911. While the 26-mile system operated on its
own right-of-way it was never very profitable (despite serving an
amusement park known at Lake Olmstead) and operations were abandoned by
Georgia Railway & Power Company: This company was
actually controlled another line, the Atlanta Northern, which served
Atlanta and Marietta (a distance of 16 miles) opening on July 17, 1905.
It also operated its own line between Atlanta, Decatur, and Stone
Mountain to the east, which stretched an additional 16 miles and began
operations in November, 1913. Both systems were abandoned by 1947.
Boise Interurban Railway: The Boise Interurban Railway was part
of 35-mile system which served Boise and points to the west such as
Caldwell, Nampa, Wilder and McNeil. The Boise Interurban Railway was
the northern extension of this loop system connecting the towns along
the Boise River (which it completed on August 8, 1907) while the Boise
Valley Railway completed the southern section. Both systems became part
of the Idaho Railway Light & Power Company in 1912 and in 1915 became known as Boise
Valley Traction Company. It remained profitable through 1920 but after
this time losses mounted and the system was abandoned 1928.
Sandpoint & Interurban Railway: The
Sandpoint & Interurban Railway which began operation in 1909 and
eventually built a 5-mile system connecting Sandpoint and Kootenai. It
lasted only eight years and was abandoned in 1917.
Caldwell Traction Company: The Caldwell Traction
Company began operation in 1913. It operated about 27 miles of track
altogether serving points west of Caldwell including McNeil, Lake Lowell
and Wilder (it also leased a branch of the Oregon Short Line from Union
Pacific Railroad and electrified the route). The operation included
both freight and passenger service but the railroad had a very hard time
staying profitable resulting in the UP taking back its leased branch in
1920. After defaulting on its loans the operation was abandoned in 1924.
Boise Valley Traction Company: The BVT was the successor
to the above mentioned Boise Interurban system. It primarily consisted
of two lines radiating away from Boise on each side of the Boise River.
Its northern line served Caldwell and a connection with the Caldwell
Traction while the southern line served Meridian, Nampa and curved
northward to also reach Caldwell. Its final construction occurred in
1912 when it rebuilt the Boise-Nampa line to eliminate severe curves.
In 1922 the company merged with the local power company to form
the Idaho Railway Light & Power Company, which operated its
interurban initially as the Idaho Traction Company but later changed
this to the Boise Valley Traction Company in 1915. It saw its first
deficits in 1924 and was abandoned by 1928. Interestingly, shortly
after locals purchased about 32 miles of the remaining system to operate
freight service. However, the Great Depression killed any profit potential and the entire line was scrapped by 1931.
Honolulu Rapid Transit: The Honolulu Rapid Transit
Company served the city of Honolulu beginning operations in 1898. The
famous interurban operated streetcar service until the 1940s when
operations were discontinued in favor of buses.
Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railway:
The CNS&M, commonly known as the "North Shore Line" had a history
that began in 1895 as the Bluff City Electric
Interurban Street Railway, originally serving Waukegan with North
Chicago's 10th Street. It continued to grow and before 1900 reached
22nd Street and Highland Park, causing it to be reorganized as the
Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Railroad in 1898 as expansions
continued. The company continued to grow through the 1900s reaching
Evanston, Lake Bluff, Libertyville, Mundelein, and Racine by 1906. A
year later the company directly served Milwaukee although the financial
panic that year forced it to wait another year before implementing
services. Unfortunately, the panic eventually brought bankruptcy where
it was purchased by the Insull interests in 1916, which renamed it as
the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee.
Under new ownership it was finally able to reach downtown Chicago
in August, 1919 through trackage rights via the Milwaukee Road and
Chicago Elevated (the "L"). It continued to improve operations through
the 1920s and remained relatively profitable prior to the Great
Depression, a time when many interurbans were disappearing. The
resulted in reorganization as Insull went under, which occurred in
1946. Because the North Shore Line never had extensive freight
operations and was not truly equipped to handle the heavy rush hour
traffic, along with declining passenger traffic after World War
II it slowly crumbled. After legal fights it was finally abandoned on
January 21, 1963. The North Shore is notable for two things; offering
very high speed service and was the first true railroad to utilize
piggyback freight service in the 1920s (yes, even before the Chicago
Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railway: For more information on the CA&E please click here.
Chicago & Southern Traction Company: The C&ST
began operations on October 5, 1907 serving Kankakee with 79th and
Halsteed Streets, Chicago, a distance of nearly 54 miles. Its history
dated as far back as 1897 and it was not electrified until 1901.
Bankruptcy in 1911 resulted in reorganization as the Chicago &
Interurban Traction, which is covered in more detail below.
Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric Company: This
system served the Fox River Valley in Illinois
had dated back to the 1890s as one of the earliest interurbans in the
country. By 1901 it was serving Elgin, Carptersville, Geneva, Batavia,
and Yorkville. It was soon acquired by the Pomeroy-Mandelbaum
syndicate, which owned the CA&E and renamed that year as the Elgin,
Aurora & Southern. After bankruptcy in 1919 it was sold by the
CA&E and renamed as the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River. Another
casualty of the Great Depression it was eventually abandoned on March
Chicago, SouthShore & South Bend Railroad: For more information on the Shore Shore Line please click here.
Alton, Granite & St. Louis Traction Company: The
Alton, Granite & St. Louis Traction Company was a creation in 1904
of several smaller interurban systems serving Alton. By 1920 the system
was in financial trouble and was taken over by the Alton Railway in
1926. On July 1, 1930, the Illinois Power & Light Corporation
purchased the property and finally the Illinois Terminal
Railroad took over the system as year later on March 1st. The system
continued to flounder and was finally completely replaced by buses in
the summer of 1936.
Alton, Jacksonville, & Peoria Railway: The Alton,
Jacksonville, & Peoria Railway was a failed venture meant to connect
Alton and Peoria. It was able to connect Alton and Godfrey, a distance
of 5 miles as well as a branch to Jerseyville but quickly found itself
in financial trouble. By 1918 the railroad had been abandoned.
Northern Illinois Electric Railway: The Northern Illinois Electric
Railway began operations in 1910 connecting Amboy and Lee Center, a
distance of 11 1/2 miles. The NIER was another failed interurban
connecting two sparsely populated towns. It was sold to the Lee County
Central Railroad in the summer of 1914 and passenger operations were
terminated in the early 1920s. Interestingly, part of the line remained
in service until the 1960s, used by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad to serve nearby grain elevators.
Elgin, Aurora & Southern Traction Company: The Elgin,
Aurora & Southern Traction Company began operations in December
1903 serving Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles and Elgin. It was
merged into the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad in 1905.
St. Louis & Belleville Electric Railway: The St. Louis & Belleville Electric
Railway was a subsidiary of interurban East St. Louis & Suburban
Railway and predominantly provided freight service. After the
EStL&S was abandoned in 1928 the StL&BE was acquired by the
Company it was renamed the Peabody Short Line Railroad and continued to
haul coal, its primary source of traffic for most its existence. It
eventually was purchased by the Illinois Central but since the line
duplicated a nearby IC line it was abandoned in the early 1960s.
Elgin & Belvidere Electric Railway: The Elgin & Belvidere Electric
Railway connected Belvidere and Elgin on a line that stretched about 36
miles. It opened for operation in 1907 and became a central link for
the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin between Freeport, Rockford, Elgin and
Chicago. It remained in operation until 1930 when it was abandoned.
Bloomington & Normal Railway: The Bloomington & Normal Railway dates back to 1867 serving its namesake cities. It switched from horse to electric
streetcars in 1890. The B&N at its peak operated eight different
lines. The railroad lasted until December of 1936 when it was
Bloomington, Pontiac & Joliet Electric Railway: The
BP&J had grand schemes of connecting Chicago and St. Louis but only
ever connected Pontiac and Odell, an distance of 10 miles opening on
March 15, 1905. It was also able to build an 8-mile branch to Dwight a
year later. Serving only small communities profits were limited. As
such, abandonment occurred on November 24, 1925.
Cairo Electric & Traction Company: The Cairo
& Traction Company was known by several different names including
the Cairo Street Railway and Cairo Railway & Light System. It
served Cairo and was taken over by the Illinois Power & Light
Corporation in 1923. The railroad was abandoned for buses in 1931.
Calumet Electric Street Railway: The Calumet Electric
Street Railway served southern Chicago beginning operations in 1890. It
lasted for only 18 years when it became part of the South Chicago City
Railway Company in 1908.
Illinois Central Electric Railway: The Illinois Central
Electric Railway was chartered in October of 1903. It began operations
on June 3, 1907 connecting Canton with St. David. Eventually the system
was able to reach Norris, Fairview, Gilchrist and finally terminating
in Farmington by 1912. Later that year the interurban also completed a
branch from St. David to Lewistown. The interurban remained in
operation until September 13, 1928 when services were discontinued.
Illinois Central Electric Railway: The Centralia &
Central City Street Railway operated between 1885 and 1906. It
connected its namesake towns but, like many interurbans, suffered from a
sparsely populated route and was abandoned.
Illinois Power Company: The Illinois Power Company was
founded by William McKinley in 1890 to serve the city of Champaign and
Urbana. At its peak it operated 20 routes. It was sold to National
City Lines in October of 1935 and remained in operation until November
10, 1936 when the system was discontinued in favor of buses.
Chicago & Interurban Traction: The Chicago &
Interurban Traction was created in February of 1912 to take over several
defunct interurbans. The first of these was the Engelwood &
Chicago Street Railway incorporated in 1893 to serve southwestern
Chicago. It went bankrupt in 1896 at which point the newly created
Chicago Electric Traction Company took over a year later. This company
too went bankrupt and the Chicago & Southern Traction Company was
created to take over operations. After the C&ST also entered
receivership the Chicago & Interurban Traction took over operations
in 1910. At this point the system connected 63rd Street in Chicago with
Blue Island, Harvey and Kankakee. The C&IT had a very hard time
competing with the Illinois Central Railroad and after a brief stint in
freight service called its quits on April 23, 1927.
Chicago & Joliet Electric Railway:
The Chicago & Joliet Electric Railway began operations around 1903
serving Bedford Park and other suburbs of Chicago with the downtown
area. It abandoned operations in 1934.
Chicago Heights Street Railway: The Chicago Heights
Street Railway served its namesake town operating a 6 1/2 mile system.
It remained in operation until the 1920s when services were
Chicago, Aurora & DeKalb Railroad: The Chicago, Aurora & DeKalb Railroad connected Aurora (and a connection there with the Chicago,
Aurora & Elgin Railway) with DeKalb, a distance of 25 miles. It
was electrified in 1910 but found little success and after a bankruptcy
in 1913 was discontinued altogether in late January of 1923.
DeKalb-Sycamore Traction Company: The DeKalb-Sycamore
Traction Company opened in 1902 and served a 8 mile system connecting
DeKalb and Sycamore. The interurban was tied to the outside world only
by a connection with the Chicago, Aurora & DeKalb at DeKalb and when
the CA&D discontinued services in 1923 the DeKalb-Sycamore Traction
followed in August of 1924.
East St. Louis & Suburban Railway: The East St. Louis
& Suburban Railway began operations in 1892 and would eventually
connect East St. Louis, St. Louis, Lebanon, Alton and Waterloo. Along
with moving commuters and passengers the EStL&S also served a few
industries. It remained in operation until the late 1930s when services
East St. Louis, Columbia & Waterloo Railway: The East
St. Louis, Columbia & Waterloo Railway began operations in 1912
connecting its namesake cities. In 1932 services were discontinued in
favor of buses (served by the St. Louis Red Bud & Chester Bus
Freeport Railway, Light & Power Company: The Freeport
Railway, Light & Power Company operated between 1900 and 1933 at
which point bus service replaced trolleys. The FRL&P connected
served its namesake city of Freeport.
Galesburg Railway and Light Company: The Galesburg Railway and Light Company served its namesake city of Galesburg and also connected Knoxville.
Murphysboro & Southern Illinois Railway: The M&SI
began operations in 1909 around 1909 extending the Murphysboro Electric
Railway & Light Company to serve Carbondale, seven miles away.
With little profit potential and a steep main line service only survive
until January 26, 1927.
Southern Illinois Railway & Power Company: The
Railway & Power Company served Carrier Mills, Harrisburg and
Eldorado operating a 15-mile system. It remained in operation for 20
years from 1913 to 1933 being sold to the Central Illinois Public
Service Company just prior to abandonment due to loss of traffic from
highways and automobiles.
Chicago, Harvard & Geneva Lake Railway: The Chicago,
Harvard & Geneva Lake Railway served Harvard and Fontana. It opened
in 1899 and remained in service until it was abandoned in 1930 in favor
of buses and automobiles.
Joliet, Plainfield & Aurora Railway: The Joliet,
Plainfield & Aurora Railway began operations in May of 1901
connecting Joliet, Plainfield and Aurora. In 1907 the system was taken
over by the Joliet & Southern Traction Company, which soon after
completed an extension between Chicago Heights and Joliet. By 1914
however the J&S was in receivership and was sold off by the courts
with the Joliet & Eastern Traction Company taking over the line
connecting Joliet and Chicago Heights and the Aurora Plainfield &
Joliet Railway taking over the line from Joliet to Aurora. Most of the
original JP&A and J&S was abandoned altogether by the late
summer of 1924.
Kankakee Electric Railway: The Kankakee Electric Railway
connected its namesake town operating between 1891 and 1931 before being
replaced by more reliable highways and automobiles.
Sterling, Dixon & Eastern Traction Company: This
small interuban served its namesake communities, a distance of 16 miles.
It began operations in May, 1904 but was never very profitable.
Service was abandoned by September 17, 1925.
Galesburg & Kewaunee Electric Railway: The Galesburg
& Kewanee Electric Railway began operations in July of 1903
operating an 8 mile system connecting Kewanee with Galva, which was
completed in December of 1906. It intended to complete a 31 mile system
connecting with Galesburg but financial trouble ended any such plans.
In 1926 it was purchased by the North American Light & Power Company
and the operation was replaced by buses in December of 1935.
Lincoln Street Railway: The Lincoln Street Railway began
operations in 1891 serving its namesake city. It remained in operation
until 1929 when the system was replaced by buses.
Coal Belt Electric Railway: The Coal Belt Electric
Railway was an interurban system connecting the towns of Marion,
Carterville, Spillertown, Johnston City and Herrin. In total the
railroad operated 20 miles and provided both freight (particularly coal
as there were a number of mines in the area) and passenger service. It
began operations in 1901 and after just six years of operation was
purchased by the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway (a
Missouri Pacific Railroad subsidiary). The railroad shutdown in
November of 1926.
Central Illinois Traction Company: The Central Illinois
Traction Company served a 20 mile system connecting Mattoon and
Charleston opening in June of 1904. The system was abandoned in favor of
buses in the spring of 1928.
Springfield, Clear Lake & Rochester: The SCL&R
began operations in 1909 operating an 11-mile system serving Springfield
and Rochester with a 4-mile branch to Clear Lake. It was renamed
twice; first as the Springfield Suburban and later as the Mississippi
valley Interurban Railway. It was an early casualty, abandoning on July
18, 1912 as ordered by the state.
Ottawa Electric Street Railway: The Ottawa Electric
Street Railway was the State of Illinois'
first electric railroad system beginning operations in the summer of
1889 serving its namesake town. It operated four different routes at
the peak of services and went through a number of acquisitions (Ottawa
Railway Light & Power Company, 1899; Northern Illinois Light &
Traction Company, 1903; Illinois Power & Light Company, 1923). It
was abandoned in favor of buses in the summer of 1927.
Paris Traction Company: The Paris Traction Company was
one of the smaller systems of ever operated, serving a route of around 3
miles through downtown Paris. It was purchased by the Central Illinois
Public Service Company in 1912 and was discontinued in favor of buses
Pekin Municipal Railway: The Pekin Municipal Railway
operated a three-mile system through the town of Pekin. For such a
small system it lasted a relatively long time, only being replaced in
November of 1935 by buses.
Peoria & Pekin Terminal Railway: The Peoria &
Pekin Terminal Railway was a shortlived interurban serving Peoria and
South Bartonville, later also connecting to Pekin. It began operations
in December of 1899 but remained in operation for only a few years
before filing for reorganization in 1906 becoming the Peoria Railway
Terminal Company. Soon after it was sold to the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (the Rock Island) and Chicago
& Alton Railroad. After the C&A went bankrupt the CRI&P
took sole ownership of the route. It continued to serve passengers
until 1924 when the CRI&P discontinued services and operated only
freight on the line thereafter.
Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria Railway: The Chicago, Ottawa
& Peoria Railway began operations in 1904 and eventually connected
Joliet and Princeton by 1912, where it joined at the former town with
the Chicago & Joliet Electric Railway. In 1923 it became part of
Illinois Traction. Its route remained in operation until 1934 when the
system was abandoned.
Quincy Railway: The Quincy Railway served its namesake
city operating from the late 19th century through the 1920s before
service was discontinued.
Tri-City Railway: The Tri-City Railway served Rock Island
and began operations in early 1906 taking over several smaller
interurbans which served the city dating back to the 1860s. Its final
operation was in 1940 before buses entirely replaced the streetcars.
Rock Island Southern Railway: The Rock Island Southern
Railway was an impressive interurban operating more as a main line
freight system than a streetcar line. Futhermore it used AC
electrification, far more powerful and efficient than DC systems. It
began operations in 1907 serving the cities of Rock Island, Monmouth and
Galesburg over two different divisions (Eastern Division and Northern
Division). Passenger service, which used heavyweight commuter cars in
later years operated until only 1927. However, freight operations
remained on the original route until the 1950s.
Rockford & Interurban Railway: The Rockford &
Interurban Railway began operations in September of 1902, the result of
the merger between the Rockford & Belvidere Electric Railway Compan
and Rockford Railway, Power & Light Company. Overall it served
Freeport, Belvidere and Beloit and Janesville, Wisconsin. Its
predecessors' histories date back to the 1880s and electrification did
not come until 1890. The service remained in operation until the 1930s
when it was replaced by buses.
Taylorville Railway Light & Power Company: The
Taylorville Railway Light & Power Company served the city of
Taylorville and was taken over by the Central Illinois Public Service
Company in 1912. Due to low ridership it was discontinued a year later
Kankakee & Urbana Traction Company: The Kankakee
& Urbana Traction Company began operations on December 20, 1912 and
served Urbana, Thomasboro, Rantoul, Ludlow and Paxton on a 27-mile
system. Streetcar service was terminated in just over a decade on March
Woodstock & Sycamore Traction Company: The Woodstock
& Sycamore Traction Company had little success. It began operations
in 1911 connecting Sycamore and Marengo on a 26 1/2 mile system. The
railroad never did operate electric streetcars (although this was
originally planned) but gasoline-powered equipment built by
Fairbanks-Morse. The line had suspended operations by 1918.
Fox & Illinois Union Railway: The Fox & Illinois
Union Railway began operations in 1911 and eventually connected
Yorkville and Morris. In just twenty years the unprofitable operation
suspended passenger service in 1931. However, freight service soldiered
on for another seven years before it too was discontinued in 1938.
Today, large stretches of this railroad can still be seen.
Indianapolis Railways: Indianapolis Railways was a creation in
1930 of reorganized interurbans Indianapolis Street Railway Company and
Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Railroad which served various
districts of Indianapolis. These systems dated back to the mid-19th
century in 1864 as mule-powered operations. Indianapolis Railways
remained in operation for another 20 years before ending all trolley
rail service in 1953 on its famed Broad Ripple line.
Beech Grove Traction Company: The Beech Grove Traction
Company served downtown Indianapolis and the suburb of Beech Grove. It
began operations in 1911 operating a six-mile system and remained in
service until 1938 when it was discontinued due to its electricity being
cut over lack of payment.
Evansville Electric Railway: The Evansville Electric Railway served the city of Evansville and operated for only a few years between 1901 and 1906.
Evansville & Ohio Valley Railway: The Evansville
& Ohio Valley Railway was formed through the merger of three smaller
systems the Evansville & Eastern Electric Railway, Evansville &
Mount Vernon Electric
Railway and Evansville, Henderson & Owensboro Railway. Along with
serving Evansville the interurban connected Henderson, Mount Vernon and
Evansville, Suburban & Newburgh Railway: The
Evansville, Suburban & Newburgh Railway was an 11-mile system
connecting. The ES&N was originally chartered in December of 1887
reaching Newburgh a few years later. Along with passenger services the
railroad also served a coal mines in the area. In 1905 the railroad was
upgraded to electric operation. Unfortunately by the late 1920s
encroachment by highways and automobiles
was taking its toll and by 1930 downgrading began with passenger
service ending. Between 1941 and 1947 the ES&N also lost its
freight business after the area coal mines shut down and in May of 1948
the entire route was abandoned.
Indiana Railways & Light Company: The Indiana
Railways & Light Company was the creation of a merger in December of
1912 of the Kokomo Frankfort & Western Traction Company (created in
1911 and connected Kokomo and Frankfort, a distance of 26 miles) and
Kokomo Marion & Western Traction Company (created in 1903 from
smaller companies and connected Kokomo and Greentown). It lasted only
ten years before being merged into the Northern Indiana Power Company.
The interurban lines remained in operation until the spring of 1932 when
they were discontinued.
Indiana Service Corporation: The Indiana Service
Corporation was created in 1902. In 1914 it took over the operations of
the Fort Wayne & Northern Indiana
Traction Company (formerly the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley Traction
Company), and a few years later purchased the Fort Wayne &
Northwestern Railway and Marion & Bluffton Traction Company. ISC
served northeastern Indiana and remained in operation until it was
purchased by the Indiana Railroad in 1930 (not to be confused with
today's Indiana Rail Road, a Class II freight railroad).
Toledo & Chicago Interurban Railway: The Toledo &
Chicago Interurban Railway was created in 1906 and would eventually
serve the counties of Allen, DeKalb and Noble. Passenger services were
discontinued in 1937 and freight operations (between Fort Wayne and
Garrett) remained on until they too were finally abandoned in 1945.
Fort Wayne & Decatur Traction Company: The FW&DT
began life in 1903 as the Fort Wayne & Springfield Railway
connecting Fort Wayne to Decatur (a distance of 22 miles) by early 1907.
It was never very profitable and never reached Springfield going
bankrupt in 1912 at which time it was renamed as the Fort Wayne &
Decatur Traction. Again, never profitable it too was bankrupt by 1927
and eventually abandoned.
Wabash River Traction Company: The Wabash River Traction
Company served the town of Peru and was a shortlived operation between
1901 and 1904 before being taken over by the Fort Wayne & Wabash
Valley Traction Company.
Gary & Interurban Railroad: The Gary & Interurban
Railroad was created in 1913 through the mergers of the Goshen, South
Bend & Chicago Railroad; Valparaiso & Northern Railway; Gary
Connecting Railways Company; and Gary & Interurban Railway.
Bluffton, Geneva & Celina Traction: The Bluffton,
Geneva & Celina Traction connected Bluffton and Geneva beginning
operations in 1910. It was a mostly unsuccessful operation serving
sparsely populated towns and went bankrupt in 1917.
Chicago & Calumet District Transit: The Chicago &
Calumet District Transit was a very late interurban operation created
in 1931 through the merger of the Calumet Railways, Gary Railways, Shore
Line Motor Coach Company, and Midwest Motor Coach Company. By this time part
of the route also operated buses but rail service was still being
provided as well. The C&CDT would survive all of the way into 1974
before being dissolved. However, its interurban rail operations had
been abandoned some years earlier in the mid-1940s.
Union Traction Company:
The Union Traction Company was by
far Indiana's (and one of the country's) largest interurbans, operating
an impressive 410-mile system serving the region surrounding
Indianapolis. It began operations in the late 1910 when the
Indianapolis, New Castle & Toledo Electric Railway was reorganized
as the Union Traction Company upon the completion of its line between
Indianapolis and New Castle. The UTC quickly grew through construction
and merger. Some of its acquisitions included the Marion Electric Street
Railway; Elwood & Alexandria Railway; Indiana
Northern; Muncie, Hartford & Fort Wayne; Dayton & Muncie
Traction; and the Muncie & Portland Traction. After 1917, however,
the system would not earn a
profit through its passenger services. Freight continued to carry the
railroad until it too began to decline after 1926. In 1930 the UTC
became part of Samuel Insull's Midland United Corporation (the UTC
routes not abandoned were operated by Insull's Indiana Railroad).
Indianapolis & Cincinnati Traction Company: The Indianapolis
& Cincinnati Traction Company was an ambitious plan to connect its
namesake cities. Unfortunately it would not come to pass although it
would operate a 91-mile system. The I&CT was created in 1902
extending from Indianapolis to Rushville by 1905 and then to
Connersville a year later. In 1906 the railroad purchased the
Shelbyville & Southeastern Traction which operated a 28-mile system
between Indianapolis and Shelbyville as well as a branch to Greensburg, a
21-mile line. The I&CT was unique in that it operated single-phase
AC electrification instead of the traditional direct-current systems.
While more efficient and powerful AC system are also much more
expensive. By 1906 the I&CT was bankrupt and while it emerged in
1910 found little success. In 1923 it switched to a more conventional
DC system and was reorganized as the Indianapolis & Southeastern
Railroad in 1929. Three years later in January of 1932 the rail service
was discontinued altogether in favor of buses.
Indianapolis & Eastern Railway: The Indianapolis & Eastern Railway operated between Indianapolis
and Richmond. It began services in July of 1902 and was purchased by
the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company in March of
Indianapolis & Louisville Traction: The Indianapolis
& Louisville Traction Company began operations in 1907 connecting
Seymour and Sellersburg and was one part of three different interubans
that completed the link between Indianapolis and Louisville, Kentucky.
It operated on a 1200-volt D.C. electrification system and remained in
service until 1931 when it was purchased by the Indiana Railroad.
Indianapolis, Columbus & Southern Traction: The
Indianapolis, Columbus & Southern Traction was created in 1895 as
the Indianapolis, Greenwood & Franklin Railroad, changing its name
to the IC&S in 1901. The interurban would eventually connect
Indianapolis with Columbus serving a 59-mile system. It became part of
the Indiana Railroad in 1930.
Indiana Railroad: The Indiana Railroad was a creation in
1930 by its owner Samuel Insull and was made up of five of Indiana's
largest interurbans; the Union Traction Company, Interstate Public
Service Company, Indiana Service Corporation, Northern Indiana Power and
Terre Haute, Indiana
& Eastern Traction. In total it operated about a 600-mile system,
which included both freight and passenger services. Unfortunately the
Great Depression was very hard on the IR, along with increased
competition from buses and automobiles and by July of 1933 it was in
receivership. In 1937 IR's parent, Midland Utilities, was dissolved by
the Securities and Exchange Commission due to bankruptcy and its system
was mostly abandoned by the early 1940s.
Indianapolis Traction Terminal: The Indianapolis Traction
Terminal was more of a terminal railroad but which operated to serve
interurban lines. It was created in 1904 to manage and consolidate the
stations of the various interurbans serving Indianapolis. It's decline
followed the interurbans and was gone by the 1930s although its
impressive station, staging tracks and shed had been built for large
amounts of traffic that never came.
Lafayette Street Railway: The Lafayette Street Railway
was an interurban serving downtown Lafayette. It was created in 1884
originally operated as a horse-powered service but by 1888 had been
electrified. In 1903 it became part of the Fort Wayne, Logansport,
Lafayette & Lima Traction Company although after a number of name
changes became the Lafayette Street Railway again in 1922. Interurban
rail service remained in operation until 1940 when it was discontinued
in favor of buses.
St. Joseph Valley Traction Company: This interurban
operated a system serving Elkhart and Bristol, opening in 1910 and
covering about 9 miles. It later expanded operations building a 24-mile
line serving Bristol and La Grange. It also operated a subsidiary, the
St. Joseph Valley Railway, which connected La Grange and Columbia,
Ohio, a distance of 37 miles. It was never a profitable system given
the small communities it served and abandoned operations on April 17,
Northern Indiana Railway: This line was created in 1905
through the merger of smaller systems that served South Bend, Goshen,
Elkhart, La Porte, Niles, and Michigan City as well as St. Joseph,
Michigan. It was later renamed as the Chicago, South Bend &
Northern Indiana Railway but never built any further than its 1905
merger. The company also operated a subsidiary, the Michigan Railway.
Initially profitable, the early 1920s were difficult on the company and
bankruptcy occurred by 1927. It was reorganized as the Northern Indiana
Railways but it also fell into bankruptcy by the end of 1931. The
system was eventually completely converted to buses in 1940.
Chicago-New York Air Line: The Chicago-New York Air Line
was an ambitious, almost impossible, plan to connect Chicago and New
York via a 742-mile straight and flat "air line". It was chartered in
1906 but made it no further than a few miles of line constructed near
LaPorte, Indiana. The scheme turned out to be nothing more than a scam
as the builders took the Chicago investors' money who had financed the
fist stages of the grand railroad and were never heard from again.
Marion City Railway: The Marion City Railway was a shortlived interurban that took over the Indiana
Railroad's street operations in Marion in 1933. It remained in
operation until 1947 when the service was abandoned altogether in favor
Marion, Bluffton & Eastern Traction: The Marion,
Bluffton & Eastern Traction was created in December of 1905 and
connected its namesake cities. It remained in operation until 1931 when
rail services were abandoned.
Twin Branch Railroad: The Twin Branch Railroad was not
really an interurban passenger railroad but did operate electrified
trackage (about two miles) hauling coal to a Michigan Power Company
power plant located near Mishawka.
Marion & Bluffton Traction Company: The M&BT was
incorporated in 1905 as the Marion, Bluffton & Eastern Traction
Company to serve its namesake towns as well as Decatur. It opened a
year later on December 1, 1905 operating a total of 32 miles. In 1912
it was reorganized as the Marion & Bluffton Traction and operated
for another 14 years before being purchased by the Indiana Service
Corporation and later as another component of the Indiana Railroad.
Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Company: This system
had a history that dated back to the Evansville & Princeton Traction
Company of December, 1903 that served its two primary cities on a
28-mile system. It came under different ownership throughout the first
decade of the 20th century and later added a route to Patoka by 1908.
In 1912 it was taken over by the Public Service Company of Evansville
and renamed as the Southern Indiana Gas & Electric. It remained in
operation until 1933.
Lebanon-Thorntown Traction Company: This tiny interurban
began operations in July, 1905 connecting its namesake towns and a
connection with the THI&E. It remained in operation until July,
Angola Railway & Power Company: This small street railway served Paltytown and Lake James on a 3-mile system that opened in 1904 and was abandoned by 1918.
Fort Wayne & Northwestern Railway: The FW&N began
life in 1907 as the Toledo & Chicago Interurban Railway opened a
42-mile route serving Kendallville, Garrett, Fort Wayne, and Waterloo.
In 1913 the company was reorganized as the Fort Wayne & Northeastern
until 1924 when it was sold to the Indiana Service Corporation, later
becoming part of the Indiana Railroad.
Home Transit, "The Daisy Line": Home Transit, also known
as the "Daisy Line", served the town of New Albany and took over
operations of the street lines after the Indiana Railroad gave up on the
route in the early 1930s. It remained in operation until the mid-1940s
before abandoning all operations itself.
New Albany & Louisville Electric Railway: The New
Albany & Louisville Electric Railway was a latecomer to interurban
operation beginning service in 1934 on a 4.75 mile railroad line in
Louisville, a former Interstate Public Service property. The NA&L
lasted until 1945 when it was discontinued.
Chicago, South Bend & Northern Indiana Railway: The
Chicago, South Bend & Northern Indiana Railway was created in 1907
and took over the operations of the Northern Indiana Railway Company
which served Michigan City. In 1930 the CSB&NI was sold to the
Northern Indiana Railway, Inc. and two years later all streetcar service was mothballed for buses.
Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley Traction Company: The
FW&WV began operations in 1904 as a Schoepf-McGowan property
(although it had a history of predecessors that dated back to 1901) and
eventually connected Fort Wayne, Wabash, Peru, Logansport, and
Lafayette. By 1907 it had reached Bluffton, Muncie, and Indianapolis as
well as the Tippecanoe Battle Ground. In 1911 the system was
reorganized as the Fort Wayne & Northern Indiana Traction Company
and again fell into bankruptcy, this time purchased by the Indiana
Service Corporation. By 1930 it became part of the large Indiana
Interstate Public Service Company: This company operated a
significant interurban between Indianapolis and Louisville, Kentucky
with a history that dated back to 1895 as the Indianapolis, Greenwood
& Franklin Railroad. Other lines that became part of the system
included the Louisville & Southern Indiana Traction Company (a Sam
Insull property), which was building north from Louisville (it was
purchased by the Louisville & Northern Railway & Lighting
Company in 1905); as well as the Indianapolis & Louisville Traction
Company created in 1905 to connect the two above systems giving a
seamless right-of-way between Indianapolis and Louisville. The
Interstate proved to be one of the state's most successful systems
offering upgraded passenger service between the two cities with sleepers
and parlor cars. They even had two named trains; the Dixie Flyers and Hoosier Flyers.
The line was completely upgraded around 1920 and in 1931 it was
renamed as the Public Service Company of Indiana. It later became part
of the Indiana Railroad system.
Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company:
The Terre Haute, Indianapolis
& Eastern Traction Company was one of the state's largest operating
over 400 miles of routes. It began operations in 1907 from four
smaller companies: the Indianapolis & Western Railway, Indianapolis
& Eastern Railway, Richmond Street & Interurban Railway and
Indianapolis Coal Traction Company. Soon after it took over several
other lines: the Terre Haute Traction & Light Company, Indianapolis
& Northwestern Traction Company, Indianapolis & Martinsville
Rapid Transit Company and the famed Indianapolis,
Crawfordsville & Danville Electric Railway (also known as the "Ben
Hur Route"). It system radiated out in all directions from Indianapolis
and remained in service until April of 1930 when it fell into
bankruptcy. A year later it was acquired by Samuel Insull's Midland
Utilities and operated by his Indiana Railroad.
Winona Railroad: The Winona Railroad began life in 1902 and
known as the Winona & Warsaw Railway. The route served its namesake
city but unfortunately the system was in bankruptcy for most its
existence changing its name in 1905 to the Winona Interurban Railway and
in 1924 was renamed the Winona Service Company before its final
reorganization in 1926 when it came to be known as the Winona Railroad.
Passenger service on the line survived until September 1 of 1934 with
freight services lasting until May 31, 1952.
Cedar Rapids & Marion City Railway: The Cedar Rapids & Marion City Railway was one of Iowa's
first interurbans completed in 1892 on an 8-mile system connecting its
namesake cities. It later became part of the United Light and Railways
Company with the interurban rail service abandoned in 1938 in favor of
Charles City Western Railway: The Charles City Western
Railway is the predecessor to today's Iowa Traction Railroad, the last
remaining interurban freight railroad that still uses classic electric
motors in regular service. The CCW dates back to 1911 when its main
line between Marble Rock and Colwell was completed, a distance of about
21 miles. The railroad would eventually connect into downtown Charles
City as well as a route built around the town for freight service. Its
freight operation survived and carries on today as the Iowa Traction.
If you get the chance, go check out the IATR in person, it's a fascinating operation!
Des Moines & Central Iowa Railroad: The Des Moines
& Central Iowa
Railroad began operations as the Inter-Urban Railway, incorporated in
1899 and soon after in 1902 connected Des Moines to Colfax, a distance
of 23 miles. Four years later in 1906 the railroad built a 35-mile
branch connecting Des Moines to Perry. In 1922 the system was
reorganized as the Des Moines & Central Iowa Railroad. Passengers
services on the system were discontinued in 1949 and the remaining
freight business was switched from electric to diesel locomotives, which lasted into the 1950s.
Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Railway: The Crandic Route
began operations on August 13, 1904 as a mid-sized interurban directly
from the beginning serving Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Swisher, and North Liberty
(back from parent Iowa Railway & Light Company certainly helped its
cause). In 1914 it looked to extend further to Davenport but after
seeing profits slip and what construction
had been completed, and opened, was abandoned by 1928. It continued to
provide passenger service until May 30, 1953 when this was abandoned at
which point the electricity was scrapped and diesels replaced the
motorcars. Today, it remains a profitable shortline system.
Des Moines Railway: The Des Moines Railway was a small
interurban railroad serving its namesake town between the late 1880s and
early 1930s. It was abandoned in favor of buses.
Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway: Also known as the
Cedar Valley Road, the WCF&N was the second-largest in the state.
It began life as the Cedar Falls Rapid Transit Comapny of 1895 building
an eight-mile line serving Waterloo and Cedar Falls. In 1901 a 14-mile
extension reached Denver and two years later it was able to establish a
connection with the friendly CGW and gained trackaged rights to Sumner
(it was later able to build its own line to serve the town). By 1914 it
also reached La Porte City, Urbana, and Cedar Rapids were it
interchanged with the Crandic. The WCF&N was quite successful
because of the importance it placed on freight operations, allowing it
to operate top-notch and high speed passenger service. It was the last
interurban to provide passenger service when it abandoned the operation
in 1956. Soon after it was purchased by the Illinois Central and Rock
Island, which renamed the system as the Waterloo railroad.
Sioux City Service Company: The
Sioux City Service Company resulted from the renaming of the Sioux City
Traction Company, a local system created in 1899 to serve its namesake
city. In 1922 the SCS became part of the Sioux City Gas & Electric.
Southern Iowa Railway: The Southern Iowa Railway was
created in 1941 from several former companies which served Albia, Mystic
and Centerville, which began as a route built by the Wabash Railroad.
After the Wabash the route came under the control of the Iowa Central
Railroad (a Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway subsidiary), Southern
Iowa Traction in 1910, Centerville Light & Traction Company in 1914,
Southern Iowa Utilities Company in 1926 and finally the Southern Iowa
Railway in 1941. Freight service on the railroad lasted until 1960.
Albia Interurban Railway: The Albia Interurban Railway
served Albia, Hiteman and Hocking on an 11-mile railroad which opened in
1908. It was abandoned by 1925.
Tama & Toledo Electric Railway: The Tama & Toledo Electric
Railway was a very small railroad serving its two equally small
namesake towns. Passenger service lasted from the late 19th century
through 1925 but interestingly freight service remained on the route until 1954.
Oskaloosa-Buxton Electric Railway: The Oskaloosa-Buxton Electric
Railway began operations in 1907 connecting Oskaloosa and Beacon, a
distance of three miles. It remained in operation until 1920.
Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Railway: The Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Railway was Iowa's
largest interurban beginning operations in 1906 when it took over the
little Newton & Northwestern. The FDDM&S's main line operated
between Fort Dodge and Des Moines along with branches reaching Ames,
Rockwell City, Webster City and Lehigh. In total the system operated
147 miles of track. The railroad abandoned electric operation for
diesel locomotives in 1954 and a year later passenger service ended as
well. In 1968 the railroad was purchased by the Chicago & North
Western Railway from the Salzburg interests and much of the main line
today continues to carry freight, particularly gypsum.
Kansas City, Kaw Valley & Western Railway: The Kansas
City, Kaw Valley & Western Railway was intended to connect Kansas
City to Topeka but it only ever reached as far as Lawrence, which was
opened in 1915 (its original main line between Kansas City
and Bonner Springs opened a year earlier). The KCKV&W ended
passenger operations in 1935 after its 1929 bankruptcy. Interestingly,
freight operations on the railroad prospered for many years until 1963
using classic Baldwin-Westinghouse electric motors.
Union Traction Company of Kansas: The Union Traction
Company of Kansas
was created in 1904 by the state initially linking Coffeyville,
Independence and Cherryvale. At the peak of operations the system was 88
miles in length and connected a number of additional towns in southern
Kansas and northern Oklahoma. It remained in operation until 1947 at
which time rail services were replaced by buses.
Hutchinson & Northern Railway:
The Hutchinson &
Northern Railway began operations in the early 20th century and was
never really a true interurban railroad but did operate classic General
Electric freight motors. The H&N was built to serve a salt mine
near Wichita in Hutchinson and continues to operate a five-mile railroad
still moving the same commodity. It ended electric operation in 1970
but today still operates two EMD SW900 switchers.
Iola Electric Railroad: The Iola Electric Railroad began
operations in 1901 and connected Iola, Gas and La Harpe on a 10 1/2-mile
system. It was never a very profitable railroad and discontinued
services in March of 1919.
Kansas City, Leavenworth & Western Railway: The
Kansas City, Leavenworth & Western Railway was a 26-mile system
connecting Wolcott, Kansas City, Lansing and Leavenworth. It began
operations in 1900 as the Kansas City-Leavenworth Railway but was sold
in 1905 and renamed the Kansas City
Western Railway. It gained its final name as the KCL&W in 1920
when it entered receivership, although for several years prior to that
time it was a rather profitable enterprise for only hauling passengers.
Interestingly it was shutdown in 1938 when the building of a dam and
resulting track relocation proved to be too expensive for the railroad
to carry out.
Missouri & Kansas Railroad: The Missouri & Kansas Railroad operated between 1906 and 1940 serving the East St. Louis area along the Missouri River.
Topeka Railway Company: The Topeka Railway Company was
a local interurban railroad serving its namesake city. It employed all
Birney-built streetcars and lasted until July of 1937 when services were
St. Joseph & Savannah Electric Railway: The StJ&S
began operations in 1911, operating an 11-mile system serving its
namesake towns. It was owned by the St. Joseph Railway Light Head &
Power Company. Service remained until the late 1930s when it was
Joplin & Pittsburg Railway: The J&P began
operations in 1907 and resulted from a merger between the Pittsburg
Street Railway and Joplin & Pittsburg Street Railway. By around
1910 it had reached (aside from its namesake cities) Weir City, Scammon,
Columbus, Cherokee, Mulberry, Croweburg, West Mineral, Dunkirk, Ringo,
and Girard. By that point it had also acquired the smaller Girard Coal
Belt Electric Railway in 1909. At its peak the system stretched 82 miles and interchanged with the Southwest Missouri Electric
and Northeast Oklahoma Railroad. By the early 1930s it had abandoned
all passenger service but freight operations remained until 1951.
Northeast Oklahoma Railroad: This interurban, which began
operations in 1908 as the Kansas & Missouri Inter-Urban Railway was
situated more in the southern Kansas than Oklahoma. By 1922 it was
continuing to build new lines and reached Miami, Commerce and Picher,
Oklahoma (where it interechanged with the Southwest Missouri) as well as
Columbus, Kansas and an interchange with the J&P. In 1930 it also
purchased former J&P lines north to Cherokee and in 1939 took over a
Southwest Missouri branch to Baxter Springs, Oklahoma. In 1940 all
passenger services were discontinued. However, it had built up enough
freight service that it remained in operation as a shortline until 1967
when it was purchased by the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco).
Manhattan City & Interurban Railway: The MC&I was a merger between two systems that came to form a main line serving Manhattan
and Junction City. The operation was created in 1914 through the
merger of the two systems, covering 16 miles. Service was abandoned by
Arkansas Valley Interurban Railway: The Arkansas Valley
Interurban Railway was an interurban which connected Wichita, Newton and
Hutchinson operating roughly a 42-mile railroad (its main line served
Wichita and Newton while it had branches serving Hutchinson and Bethel
College). The Great Depression
hit the line hard and it was sold in 1939 and named changed to the
Arkansas Valley Railway. By 1940 passenger services were nearing
discontinuance and in the summer of 1942 the track and other capital of
the line was sold for the war effort.
Winfield Street Railroad: The Winfield Street Railroad
served its namesake town operating in the downtown area. It began
operations in the early 1900s and lasted until the 1930s when it was
Kansas City, Clay County & St. Joseph Railway: The Kansas City,
Clay County & St. Joseph Railway operated a 79-mile railroad
connecting Kansas City and St. Joseph which opened in 1913. Its main
line serving its namesake city was a 51-mile segment while it also
operated a 28-mile branch to Excelsior Springs. It lasted until early
March of 1933 when services were suspended.
Kansas City, Lawrence, & Topeka Railway: The Kansas City,
Lawrence, & Topeka Railway was created in 1909 through the merger of
the Kansas City & Olathe Railway and Kansas City & Topeka
Railway. The new KCL&T was intended to connect Kansas City, Lawrence
and Topeka but only was able to complete an 11-mile railroad serving
Kansas City and Zarah. It was never a very profitable operation and
called it quits in 1927.
Southwest Missouri Electric Railway: The Southwest
Missouri Electric Railway was one of the state's first began operations
in 1890 (as a mule powered operation, it upgraded to electric
in 1903) and would eventually radiate out of Joplin connecting the
small towns of Cartersville, Carthage, Galena, Webb City, Baxter Springs
and and Picher. Along with passenger services the railroad also
carried some freight traffic. It remained in operation until 1940 when
services were discontinued.
Ohio Valley Electric Railway: The Ohio Valley Electric Railway served Huntington, West Virginia; Ashland, Kentucky;
and Ironton, Ohio beginning operations in September of 1899 when it
took over the operations of three smaller systems the Consolidated Light
& Railway Company, Ashland & Catlettsburg Street Railway, and
Ironton & Petersburg Street Railway. It remained in operation until
1937 when streetcar service was discontinued.
Cincinnati, Newport & Covington Railway: The Cincinnati, Newport & Covington Railway began operations in 1892 taking over the South Covington & Cincinnati
Street Railway a railroad which was made up of several small lines.
The line served Covington and Newport. The CN&C's streetcar
remained in operation until 1950 when it was discontinued in favor of
Kentucky Traction & Terminal Company: The Kentucky Traction
& Terminal Company began operations in the early 1900s connecting
Lexington, Paris, Georgetown, Frankfort, Versailles and Nicholasville.
It remained in operation until 1934 when streetcar operations were
Louisville & Eastern Railroad: The Louisville
& Eastern Railroad began operations in 1901 connecting Louisville
and Crestwood and six years later extended its route to LaGrange.
Because the route was built to a five-foot gauge specification it was
extremely difficult to interchange with, thus the L&E was a rather
unprofitable railroad. It lasted until October of 1935 when service was
Louisville & Interurban Railroad: The Louisville & Interurban Railroad opened in 1901 connecting Louisville
to La Grange and soon after extended to Jefferstown (1904), Prospect
(1904), Okalona (1905), Orell (1907), Fern Creek (1908) and Shelbyville
(1910). It remained in operation until 1935 when its final operating
route between Louisville and Orell was discontinued.
Louisville Railway: The Louisville Railway was one of the
state's oldest interurbans dating back to 1859 when it was a
horse-powered operation known as the Louisville City Railway. It was
renamed the Louisville Railway in 1890 when the Louisville
City Railway and another small operation merged. Streetcar service
survived until 1948 when it was discontinued in favor of buses.
Orleans-Kenner Electric Railway: The Orleans-Kenner Electric Railway connected New Orleans
(using a private right-of-way located on the north side of the city)
and Kenner operating between 1914 and 1930 before service was
discontinued in favor of buses. Before service was completely abandoned
the system had come under the management of the New Orleans Public Service Company
Southwestern Traction & Power Company: The Southwestern Traction & Power Company was never a very profitable operation. It served New Iberia
and Jeanerette operating a 12-mile system between 1912 and 1918 before
falling into bankruptcy and service was abandoned. The line was not
taken up for scrap, however, until the early 1920s.
St. Tammany & New Orleans Railway & Ferry Company: The
St. Tammany & New Orleans
Railway & Ferry Company was a very short-lived interurban railroad.
It served Mandeville and Covington on a system covering some 14 miles.
It was opened in 1909 as a standard railroad using gasoline-powered
"Doodlebugs". However, in 1915 the service was upgraded to full
electric power. From this point it operated until 1918 until the system
was completely abandoned due to low traffic.
New Orleans City & Lake Railroad: The New Orleans
City & Lake Railroad was created in 1883 from the New Orleans City
Railroad. It operated until 1892 when it became part of the New Orleans
Bangor, Hampden, & Winterport Railway: The Bangor,
Hampden, & Winterport Railway was chartered in the late 19th
century to connect its namesake cities. The system later became part of
the Bangor Electric & Railway Company.
Biddeford & Saco Railway: The Biddeford & Saco Railway connected its namesake cities and operated until 1939 upon which time it was abandoned.
Bangor Hydro Electric Company: The Bangor Hydro Electric
Company today is a utility company. However, it once also operated a
streetcar operation which served Bangor. It lasted until the final day
of December, 1945 when operations were discontinued.
Calais Street Railway: The Calais Street Railway was
chartered in March of 1893 to operate the St. Stephen Street Railway
Company, which was created in 1891. Streetcar lasted until 1929 when it
Rockland, Thomaston & Camden Street Railway: The
Rockland, Thomaston & Camden Street Railway served Rockland and Glen
Cove operating between 1892 and 1931 before become part of Middle West
Utilities. Streetcars were discontinued that same year (1931).
Bangor Railway & Electric Company: This interurban
began operations in 1906 as the Bangor & Northern Railroad
connecting its home city with Charleston, a distance of 26 miles. It
did operate some freight service, notably moving potatoes. However,
with little of either freight or passenger traffic service only survived
until around 1930.
Lewiston, Augusta & Waterville Street Railway: The
LA&W served its namesake cities as well as Bath and Yarmouth. It
began life as the Auburn, Mechanic Falls & Norway Street Railway and
later was renamed the Lewiston, Augusta & Waterville Street
Railway. It took over a number of small systems, notably the Lewiston,
Brunswick & Bath Street Railway, August Winthrop & Gardner
Railway, Brunswick & Yarmouth Railway, and the Auburn & Turner
Railroad. It went bankrupt in 1919 and reemerged as the Androscoggin
& Kennebec Railway. It fell apart piecemeal through the 1930s
before finally being sold at auction in early 1941.
Androscoggin & Kennebec Railway: The Androscoggin
& Kennebec Railway was created in 1919 and took over the operations
of the Lewiston Augusta & Waterville Street Railway (successor to
the Lewiston Brunswick & Bath Street Railway, originally known as
the Bath Railway chartered in 1891). It operated until 1932 when
streetcar was discontinued in favor of buses.
Norway & Paris Street Railway: The Norway & Paris
Street Railway connected the small towns of Norway and Paris which were
once home to paper mills. It operated on a just a two-mile railroad
and was abandoned in 1918.
Portland Railroad: The Portland Railroad was one of the state's
first interurban railroads. It opened in 1860 as a horse-powered
operation and and was operated for over 50 years before being taken over
by the Cumberland County Power & Light Company in 1912. Streetcar
service in Portland remained until 1941 when it was discontinued.
Portsmouth, Kittery & York Street Railway: The
Portsmouth, Kittery & York Street Railway began operations in 1897
serving Badger's Island, Kittery and York Beach. The PK&Y became
part of the Portsmouth, Dover & York Street Railway in November,
1901. It remained in service until 1923 when streetcar railroad
operations were discontinued.
Atlantic Shore Line Railway: The Atlantic Shore Line
Railway served Sanford operating until the spring of 1947 when it became
part of the York Utilities Company.
The history of the line dated back to 1893 and was created through
several small streetcar systems in southern Maine. At its peak the
company served Kittery, Biddeford, Saco, Dover, South Berwick, and
Portland (where it interchanged with the Portland Railroad). It operate
some LCL freight service but nothing of significant profit. It fell
into bankruptcy a few times before being purchased York Utilities in
1922, which a year later constructed a new line between Sanford and
Springvale and abandoning much of the original system. The last
remaining part of the interurban served York and Springvale before being
Somerset Traction Company: The Somerset Traction Company
began operations in 1895 serving Madison, Lakewood and Skowhegan. The
interurban railroad was built for local residents and tourists to enjoy
the attractions in the area, such as the amusement park built by the
company at Lake Wesserunsett. It remained in operation until 1928 when
services were discontinued.
Aroostook Valley Railroad: The Aroostook Valley Railroad
dates back to 1909 when it was chartered to connect Washburn and Presque
Isle (it later also connected New Sweden, Carson and Caribou). At the
railroad's peak it operated 32 miles of track and was electrified
between 1910 and the mid-1940s. Around this time passenger operations
were also discontinued. Interestingly, however, the AVR continued on as
a freight line using General Electric 44-tonners and remained in
service until April, 1996 when operations were finally suspended.
Waterville, Fairfield & Oakland Street Railway: The
Waterville, Fairfield & Oakland Street Railway served its namesake
cities operating from around the turn of the 20th century until 1937
when services were abandoned.
Portland-Lewiston Interurban Railroad: This system dated back to the Portland, Gray & Lewiston Railroad of 1907. However, due to securing financing
the line did not open between the two cities until 1914. Soon after it
was opened it was purchased by another party, the Androscoggin Electric
Company, and renamed as the Portland-Lewiston Interurban. It was built
to high standards not commonly found the east (especially in New
England) and more resembled western interurbans in that it tried to act
as a feeder freight line for railroads. However, its connections were
with the Maine Central, a railroad never interested in dealing with
interurbans. Still, it did its best to serve freight on the 31-mile
line dispatching two box motors daily. The state forced the power
company to divest itself of the interurban in 1932 cutting off the
line's funds. As such, a year later on June 29, 1933 service was
Other notable Maine interurban railroads:
Auburn & Turner Railroad
Augusta, Winthrop & Gardiner Street Railway
Rockland, South Thomaston & St. George Railway
Lewiston & Auburn Street Railway
Portland & Yarmouth Street Railway
York Utilities Company
Annapolis Short Line (Annapolis and Baltimore Short Line): The Annapolis Short Line, officially known as the Annapolis and Baltimore Short Line
was created in March of 1887. It was a shortlived interurban railroad
that served the Annapolis area, near Baltimore until 1907 when it was
purchased by the Maryland Electric Railway. Later the route was purchased by the Washington, Annapolis & Baltimore Electric
Railroad in 1921. Finally the route became part of the Baltimore &
Annapolis Railroad in 1935. In 1952 passenger service was discontinued
followed by freight operations in 1968.
Cumberland & Westernport Electric Railway: The
C&W began operations in 1902 operating a 25-mile system connecting
Cumberland, Lonaconing, and Westernport. It was to be western
Maryland's only interurban but unfortunately was never able to earn much
in the way of income. It was finally abandoned in 1926.
Cumberland Electric Railway: The Cumberland Electric Railway
began operations on the Fourth of July, 1891 connecting North Centre
Street to Narrows Park in Cumberland. The railroad remained in
operation until 1932 when it was discontinued.
Frederick & Middletown Railway: The Frederick &
Middletown Railway was the name initially given to the Hagerstown &
Frederick Railway, which connected its namesake towns. Services began
in August of 1896 and by October of that year had connected Frederick
and Middletown. Passenger services on the railroad ended in 1939 while freight operations remained until 1961.
Hagerstown & Frederick Railway Company: The H&F began operations in 1913 through the formation of several small systems.
It was a quite large interurban at 76 miles in length and connecting
its namesake cities as well as smaller communities such as Boonesboro,
Myersville, Middletown, Jefferson, Braddock Heights, and Thurmont.
Additionally, it reached Pennsylvania towns like Williamsport, and Shady
Grove. In 1906 it established interchange service with the
Chambersburg, Greencastle & Waynesboro. The H&F was one of the
few eastern lines to actually build up a profitable freight business,
thanks in part to its connections with the Western Maryland Railway
which was willing to negotiate into interchange agreements (the nearby
Baltimore & Ohio, however, was not). It was the last interurban to
provide passenger service east of the Mississippi when service was
finally discontinued on February 20, 1954. From there, the line was
converted to diesels for freight traffic although this too was abandoned four years later in 1958.
Connecticut Valley Street Railway: The Connecticut Valley
Street Railway was chartered in 1900 to connect Athol, Greenfield,
Northampton and Amherst. The railroad remained in operation until 1924
when streetcar service was abandoned.
Boston & Worcester Street Railway: The B&W was
the only true interurban in the state, or at least one which operated
with interurban equipment. It began operations over its entire 44 mile
main line on June 30, 1903 connecting its namesake cities. It later
built a short branch to serve Natick. The system remained somewhat
stable through 1918 until serious deficits began to occur. In 1925 it
fell into bankruptcy and was
renamed as the Boston, Worcester & New York Street Railway in 1927.
The company tried to establish a solid business of less-than-carload
freight (LCL) but lost this to truck traffic by the late 1920s. By 1932 the entire system had been converted to buses.
Interstate Street Railway: The Interstate Street Railway
began operations in 1892 connecting Pawtucket and North Attleboro. A
rather unprofitable operation from the start the property was
reorganized or purchased a number of times before streetcar service was
discontinued in 1933.
Boston & Northern Street Railway: The Boston &
Northern Street Railway served communities surrounding Boston and was
formed in 1901 from the Lynn & Boston
Railroad, itself a combination of several smaller interurban railroads.
At its peak the B&N operated over 16 miles of track and later
became part of the Bay State Street Railway. Overall the entire
railroad was never very profitable and was abandoned in 1918.
Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad: The Boston,
Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad was more of a commuter railroad than an
interurban streetcar line, at least when it was first constructed. The
BRB&L began operations in July of 1875 connecting East Boston,
Rowes Wharf, the Atlantic Avenue Elevated, Revere Beach, Winthrop and
Lynn. The commuter line was quite profitable, so much so that by 1914
it began updating its system to electric operation, which was completed
in 1928. However, like all interurbans the Great Depression and
automobile hit the railroad hard. It filed for bankruptcy in 1937 and
just three years later in January of 1940 discontinued all operations.
Warren, Brookfield & Spencer Street Railway: The
Warren, Brookfield & Spencer Street Railway connected Spencer,
Brookfield and Warren on a system that stretched nearly 20 miles. It
was a rather unprofitable railroad lasting only until 1912 when it
defaulted on its loans and was sold off in 1915.
Dedham & Franklin Street Railway: The Dedham &
Franklin Street Railway connected Dedham and Franklin. It began
operations in 1899 but was not very successful and was abandoned by
Gardner Electric Street Railway: The Gardner Electric
Street Railway served the City of Gardner. It began operations in 1894
before becoming part of the Gardner Westminster & Fitchburg Street
Railway just a few years later in 1899. Streetcar service in the city
lasted until 1924 when it was discontinued.
Grafton & Upton Railroad: The Grafton & Upton
Railroad dates back to 1873 when it was known as the Grafton Centre
Railroad which connected Grafton with the Boston & Maine Railroad
junction at North Grafton. It became the G&U in 1888 by order of
the state legislature. The railroad reached its final length when it
connected to Milford in 1890 operating a route of roughly 15 miles. The
G&U operated both passenger and freight services, the former via
streetcars until 1928 when it was discontinued. Freight service,
however, has prevailed on the line and the G&U remains an active
Class III shortline today.
Hingham Street Railway: The Hingham Street Railway served
the town of Hingham operating from the North Street depot to Queen
Anne's Corner. It remained in operation from the late 19th century
until the 1920s when service was discontinued.
Milford & Uxbridge Street Railway: The Milford &
Uxbridge Street Railway was the last interurban railroad to operate the
route serving Milford. Service dated back to the Milford Street Railway
of the late 19th century and the M&USR took over services in 1901
which lasted until 1928.
Holyoke Street Railway: The Holyoke Street Railway was
chartered in 1884 and was built to connect Holyoke with a nearby
amusement park the railroad constructed known as Mountain Park. While
the amusement park remained in service through the 1980s the streetcar
operation was discontinued in 1936.
Massachusetts Northeastern Street Railway: The Massachusetts
Northeastern Street Railway served Newburyport and Amesbury taking over
in 1912 the property operated by the Haverhill & Southern New
Hampshire Street Railway. It remained in service until 1930 when
service was abandoned.
Middlesex & Boston Street Railway: The
Middlesex & Boston Street Railway took over the operations of the
South Middlesex Street Railway in 1907 (the property dated back to the
Natick Electric Street Railway of 1891). It remained in service for
only three years before being purchased by the Boston Suburban Electric
Companies. Its name remained and the railroad actually survived into
Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) era when it began being subsidized
in 1964. The MBTA took over the operation in 1972 and continues to
provide commuter services over much of the route.
Union Street Railway: The Union Street Railway was
created in 1894 to serve New Bedford and Fall River. It later extended
services to Wareham, Onset, and Monument Beach in 1901. The interurban
railroad remained in operation until the 1940s when it was discontinued
in favor of buses.
Hoosac Valley Street Railway: The Hoosac Valley Street
Railway was a small interurban which served North Adams. It began
operations in 1886 and lasted for 20 years before becoming part of the Berkshire Street Railway in June of 1906.
Northampton Street Railway: The Northampton Street
Railway began operations in 1865 serving the town of Northampton. The
railroad remained in operation until 1952 but streetcar service had been
discontinued in 1933.
Oak Bluffs Street Railway: The Oak Bluffs Street Railway
began operations in 1895 serving the resort area of Martha's Vineyard.
It operated five miles of track and remained in service until 1917 when
operations were abandoned.
Pittsfield Electric Street Railway: The Pittsfield
Electric Street Railway came into being in 1886 after the Pittsfield
Street Railway electrified its operations. It remained in service until
1910 when it became part of the Berkshire Street Railway. Streetcar
service on the route lasted until 1932.
Bay State Street Railway: The Bay State Street Railway
served the Boston area and came into being in 1911 taking over the
operations of the Boston & Northern Street Railway. It remained in
operation until 1919 when it became the Eastern Massachusetts Street
Railway. Streetcar service on the line lasted as late as 1952.
Hartford & Springfield Street Railway: The Hartford &
Springfield Street Railway began operations in 1896 connecting Hartford
and Springfield. It operated streetcars until 1926 when the service was
Springfield Street Railway: The Springfield Street
Railway served the city of Springfield. It began operations in 1868 and
streetcar service lasted until 1940 when it was discontinued in favor
of buses (the company itself carried on until 1974).
Northern Massachusetts Street Railway: The Northern Massachusetts
Street Railway took over the operations of the Gardner, Westminster
& Fitchburg Street Railway. It remained in operation until 1924
when streetcar service on the route was abandoned.
Other notable Massachusetts interurbans:
Athol & Templeton Street Railway
Athol-Orange Street Railway
Bay Cities Consolidated Railway
Boston Worcester Trolley Air Line
Boston West End Street Railway
Citizens Electric Street Railway
Dartmouth & Westport Street Railway
Gloucester, Essex & Beverly Street Railway
Greenfield & Montague Transportation Company
Haverhill & Amesbury Street Railway
Mt. Tom Incline Railway
New Bedford & Ouset Street Railway
Newton Street Railway
Northampton & Amherst Street Railway
Shelburne Falls & Colerain Street Railway
Uxbridge & Blackstone Street Railway
Worcester & Marlboro Street Railway
Worcester & Southbridge Street Railway
Worcester Consolidated Railway
Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti Electric Railway: The Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti Electric
Railway took over the operations of the Ann Arbor Street Railway in
1896, which served the City of Ann Arbor. It remained in service for
only a few years before being reorganized as the Detroit, Ypsilanti
& Ann Arbor Railway in 1901. Never a very profitable railroad
streetcar service on the line was discontinued altogether in 1925.
Southern Michigan Railway: The Southern Michigan Railway
served the Berrien Springs area. It began operations in 1906 and
provided service until 1934 when it was abandoned.
Detroit United Railways: Detroit United Railways was
created on the last day of December, 1900 to consolidate the many
interurban railroads operating in and around Detroit.
Political tampering forced the interurban into bankruptcy in 1925 and
what was left of the system was finally abandoned in May of 1927.
Michigan United Railway: Another of Michigan's large
interurban systems, the Michigan United began operations in 1906 through
the formation of several smaller lines and served Lansing, Battle
Creek, Owosso, Kalamazoo, Jackson,
Flint, and Saginaw. It was also another of the state's well engineered
lines providing high speed service with heavyweight equipment. The
company was even profitable enough to purchase the Michigan Central's
former main line (a standard railroad) between Kalamazoo and Mattawan
when the company realigned its route. In 1911 the Michigan United
leased a small standard railroad, the Kalamazoo Lake Shore
& Chicago Traction, which was abandoned by 1925 due to lack of
profits. Prior to this the company had also acquired another small
line, the Grand Rapids, Holland & Chicago Railway. By 1923 the MU
was in financial trouble and was reorganized as the Michigan Electric
Railway. Profits continued to decline through the 1920s and service was
finally abandoned by 1929.
Eastern Michigan Railways: Eastern Michigan Railways was created in 1928 from the Lincoln Park Coach Line, a route originally built by the Detroit
& Toledo Shore Line Railroad in 1904. It remained in service for
just a few years until 1932 when streetcar service was discontinued.
Grand Rapids, Grand Haven & Muskegon Railway: The
Grand Rapids, Grand Haven & Muskegon Railway was funded and owned by
Westinghouse, Church, Kerr & Company. It began in 1902 and
eventually its main line connected Grand Rapids and Muskegon Heights
with a branch to Fruitport. It was sold in 1912 to the United Light and
Railways Company and until the "Roarin' Twentys" made healthy profits.
However, as automobiles and highways improved earnings declined. The
GRGH&M was in bankruptcy by 1926 and abandoned altogether by 1928.
Grand Rapids, Holland & Chicago Railway: The Grand
Rapids, Holland & Chicago Railway was created in 1904 from the
reorganization of the Grand Rapids, Holland & Lake Michigan Rapid
Railway of 1902. It connected the cities of Grand Rapid, Holland and
Saugatuck and operated until 1926 when streetcar service was abandoned.
Grand Rapids Railroad: The Grand Rapids Railroad served the City
of Grand Rapids and remained in operation until 1935 when service was
abandoned in favor of buses.
Detroit United Railway: The state's largest
interurban, the Detroit United was created in 1901 through several small
Detroit interurban systems thank to the Everett-Moore interests. By
1915 the interurban had four major main lines that radiated away from
Detroit serving Monroe, Toledo (Ohio), Almont, and Imlay City. The
company was large enough and connected several towns of size that it
operated by local service as well as through ("limited") service. Its
various main lines were broken down into separate named lines including
the Detroit Monroe & Toledo Short Line, Detroit Jackson &
Chicago, and the Rapid Railway. The company was able to provide through
service to such far away cities as Cleveland, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and
Ann Arbor thanks to connections with the Lake Shore Electric, Michigan
United, and Cincinnati & Lake Erie. It also owned a Canadian line,
the Sandwich, Windsor & Amhersburg. Unfortunately, with little
freight traffic profits fell apart after 1920. It slowly cutback
services for the rest of that decade and was gone altogether by October,
Lake Superior District Power Company: The Lake Superior
District Power Company operated streetcar railroads of Ashland. This
line was originally known as the Ashland Street Railway, which at first
used horses for power. The railway was merged into the Ashland Light,
Power & Street Railway Company and electrified in 1893. In 1922 it
became known as the Lake Superior District Power Company and services
lasted for another eleven years before being discontinued in 1933.
Jackson & Battle Creek Traction Company: The Jackson
& Battle Creek Traction Company completed half of a route which
connected Battle Creek and Kalamazoo (the other half being the Michigan
Traction Company). In 1906 the company became part of the expansive
Michigan United Railway.
Detroit, Jackson & Chicago Railway: The Detroit,
Jackson & Chicago Railway began operations in 1907 from the Detroit,
Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor & Jackson Railway (which had its beginnings as
Ypsilanti & Ann Arbor Railway of 1897). Serving Dearborn the
railroad remained until 1928 when it became known as the Eastern
Michigan Railways. A year later all streetcar service was abandoned.
Ludington & Northern Railway: The Ludington &
Northern Railway dates back to the Epworth League Railway of 1895, which
changed its name to the L&N in 1901. It served Mason County
connecting Ludington and Epworth Heights and operating only two miles of
trackage. Interestingly, the L&N remained in service hauling sand
until 1982 when it was abandoned.
Michigan Electric Railway: The Michigan Electric Railway
began operations in 1923 on a railroad route constructed by the Jackson
City Railway of 1882. Over the years the interurban was known by
different names such as the Jackson Street Railway, Jackson &
Suburban Traction Company, Jackson Consolidated Traction Company and
Michigan United Railways before known as the Michigan
Electric. It remained in operation for only five years before being
renamed the Jackson Transportation Company. Streetcar service ended
soon after in 1936.
Benton Harbor & St. Joe Railway: The BH&StJ dated
back to two small inteurbans that began service between 1906 and 1911
serving Benton Harbor, Dowagiac, Coloma, Watervliet, Paw Paw Lake, and
Eau Claire on a system that stretched about 44 miles and connected to
the Pere Marquette Railway. The company relied significant on steamboat
traffic coming to and from Benton Harbor. It passed into the hands of
different owners in the early 1920s until the American Gas &
Electric Company sold off or abandoned most of the system later that
decade. The remaining portion was abandoned in 1935.
Saginaw-Bay City Railway: This interurban began service
in 1896 as the Inter-Urban Railway between Saginaw and Bay City on a
13-mile route. In 1899 it was renamed as the Saginaw Valley Traction
Company and gained its final name in 1910. In 1914 it came under the
control of the Michigan Railway but lack of serious freight or passenger
traffic caused the system to enter receivership by 1921. It fought
with the city of Saginaw over fare increases and ended service
completely by that August. In 1923 a new system the Saginaw Transit
Company tried to restore service but eventually gave up altogether by
Escabana Traction Company: This small interurban served its
namesake city and Gladstone on an 11-mile system that opened in 1910.
In 1920 it was renamed as the Escabana Power & Traction Company but
was completely abandoned by May, 1932.
Houghton County Traction Company: Another small
interurban that began life as the Houghton County Street Railway serving
Houghton, Mohawk, Keweenaw, Peninsula, Red Jacket, and Hubbell on a
31-mile system. The history of the company dated back to 1901 and in
1908 was renamed as the Houghton County Traction. It first went
bankrupt in 1921 and ended services entirely by 1932.
Other notable Michigan interurban railroads:
Detroit & River St. Clair Railway
Escanaba Electric Street Railway
Kalamazoo Street Railway
Mt. Clemens Fast Line
Owasso & Corunna Traction Company
Port Huron & Gratiot Street Railway
Royal Oak, Birmingham, Bloomfield & Pontiac Railway
Saginaw Valley Railway
Gulfport & Mississippi Coast Traction Company: The
Gulfport & Mississippi Coast Traction connected Pass Christian,
Biloxi, and Gulfport on a system that was about 24 miles in length. The
interurban began operations in 1905 and later extended services through
1907. Early on the company was able to move substantial amounts of
passenger traffic given the larger cities it served. However, by the
oncoming of the automobiles in the 1920s and lack of freight service
this quickly played out. It remained in service until 1926 when
streetcar service was discontinued in favor of buses. Part of railroad
continued to carry the remaining freight services until 1949 when this
too was abandoned.
Greenville Street Railway: The Greenville Street Railway
served the City of Greenville beginning operations in 1901. At its peak
it would operation eight miles of track. Over the years it was known
by several different names; Greenville Light & Car Company, Delta
Electric Light Power & Manufacturing Company, Delta Light &
Traction Company and Mississippi Power & Light Company. Streetcars
remained in service until 1929 when they were discontinued.
Hattiesburg Street Railway: The Hattiesburg Street Railway was a
small interurban operation serving the City of Hattiesburg. It
operated between West Main Street and 8th Street remaining in service
until the late 1920s when it was abandoned.
Pascagoula Street Railway & Power Company: The
Pascagoula Street Railway & Power Company began operations in
January of 1903 and would eventually connect Anderson Park, Moss Point
and Dantzler Shipyard. It remained in service until 1925 at which time
streetcars were discontinued in favor of buses.
Vicksburg Street Railway: The Vicksburg Street Railway
dates back to 1891 and at its peak operated about seven miles of track
in the city. Over the years it was known by several different names;
Vicksburg Railroad Power & Manufacturing Company, Vicksburg Railway
& Light Company, Vicksburg Traction Company, Vicksburg Light &
Traction Company and the Mississippi Power & Light Company.
Streetcar service remained until 1935 when it was discontinued in favor
Joplin Street Railway: The Joplin Street Railway
served the City of Joplin, as its name implied. The railroad operated
under several different names following the Joplin Street Railway such
as the Joplin City Electric Railway, Joplin & Galena Electric
Railway, Southwest Missouri Electric Railway, and Southwest Missouri
Railway. Streetcar service remained until 1940 when it was abandoned in
favor of buses.
Kansas City, Clay County & St. Joseph Railway: The
Kansas City, Clay County & St. Joseph Railway began operations in
1913 connecting Kansas City, St. Joseph and Excelsior Springs. It
remained in operation for twenty years before abandoning streetcars in
favor of buses.
Springfield Traction: Springfield Traction was the third company
to operate a railroad originally built by the Citizens Railway, which
began operations in 1880. Springfield Traction took over in 1895 and
was the final company to operate the line although it did come under
different ownership during this time (the Federal Light & Traction
Company and Cities Service Company). Streetcar service survived until
1937 when it was discontinued in favor of buses.
St. Joseph & Savannah Interurban Railway: The St.
Joseph & Savannah Interurban Railway began operations in 1911
connecting St. Joseph and Savannah on an 11-mile railroad. It remained
in operation until the late 1930s when the service was discontinued.
St. Francois County Railroad: This interurban was the
state's only located in its region. It opened on December 22, 1904
connecting De Lassus, Flat River and Farmington. The line was able to
establish interchange service with the Missouri Pacific allowing it to
develop some carload freight traffic. This business allowed the company to remain in business
after passenger service was discontinued in 1927. It eventually
converted to diesel locomotives and remained in operation until 1957.
Mexico Investment & Construction Company: The
MI&C opened in 1915 serving Santa Fe, Mexico, Perry, and Molino on a
system that stretched 25 miles. It was never very profitable from the
outset due to the small towns it served and only remained in operation
until 1918 when operations were abandoned and sold for scrap.
Kansas City, Clay County & St. Joseph: The
KCCC&SJ, despite its name was situated primarily in Missouri. It
connected Excelsior Springs, Kansas City, and St. Joseph and was the
state's largest interurban by far. It originally opened in 1913
operating a system covering 158 miles. It was fairly profitable until
the Great Depression when it was hit hard by the loss of traffic. By
March, 1933 the entire operation was abandoned.
St. Joseph & Savannah Electric Railway: The
StJ&S's only connection to the outside world was through the
KCCC&SJ at St. Joseph. It operated an 11-mile system that also
served Savannah, opening in 1911. Operations remained until the
St. Louis, St. Charles & Western Railroad: The St.
Louis, St. Charles & Western Railroad served the St. Louis area
beginning operations in 1902. Its time was short as it was taken over
by the Missouri Electric Railroad in 1908.
Anaconda Street Railway: The Anaconda Street Railway
served the City of Anaconda until the early 1940s. The interurban
railroad is survived today by two of its carbarns which still stand in
Billings Traction Company: The Billings Traction Company
served the City of Billings. The operation was shortlived beginning in
1906 and abandoning railroad operations around 1917.
Butte Electric Railway: The Butte Electric
Railway began operations in 1899 taking over property originally built
by the Butte City Street Railroad in 1886. It continued operating
streetcars until the service was discontinued in 1937 and sold to National City Lines, which began operating buses.
Great Falls Street Railway: As its name implies the Great
Falls Street Railway served the City of Great Falls operating
streetcars from 1890 until it was sold to the Montana Power Company in
1931. In 1938 the railroad was sold to National City Lines, which
discontinued streetcar service in favor of buses.
Missoula Street Railway: The Missoula Street Railway was
incorporated in 1912 serving the City of Missoula. It operated
streetcars until the 1930s when the railroad was replaced by buses.
Lincoln Traction Company: The Lincoln Traction Company, as its name implies served the City
of Lincoln. It began operations in 1897 after the Lincoln Street
Railway was reorganized. The interurban railroad operated until 1943
when it was sold to National
City Lines. NCL continued to operate streetcars for about three years
until all rail service was discontinued in 1946 being replaced by buses.
Nebraska Traction & Power Company: The Nebraska
Traction & Power Company began operations on May 19, 1909,
connecting Omaha and nearby suburbs of South Omaha,
Ralston and Papillion. In total the interurban railroad operated about
14 miles of track. It would eventually become part of the Omaha &
Lincoln Railway & Light Company. It was never a particularly profitable operation and was abandoned by 1926.
Omaha, Lincoln & Beatrice Railway, "The Big Red Line":
The Omaha, Lincoln & Beatrice Railway today is a Class III,
shortline freight railroad. However, it has its roots dating back to
1903 when it was originally meant to connect Lincoln, Omaha and Beatrice
but was unable to complete the planned route operating only around Lincoln.
In 1928 it gave up on passenger service but in 1929 was purchased by a
company called NEBCO and began hauling freight. The company still owns
the railroad today although it has long since scrapped its freight
motors for more traditional diesel locomotives. Part of the reason the
company has been able to sustain for so many years is that it earned
significant profits as a kind of terminal railroad transferring and
shuffling freight around Omaha.
Omaha & Southern Interurban Railway: The O&SI was Nebraska's last notable electric
line. It operated an 8-mile line serving Omaha and Fort Cook opening
to the public on October 20, 1906. It was never able to develop a
successful freight business and began seeing deficits by the 1920s when
automobiles came into widespread use. The system was abandoned by 1931.
Reno Traction Company: The Reno Traction Company
served its namesake city beginning operations around the turn of the
century. It operated on a 600-volt DC system and acquired power by the
Reno Power, Light & Water Company. It remained in service until
1927 when operations were abandoned in favor of buses.
Berlin Street Railway: The Berlin Street Railway, as
its name implies served the City of Berlin. It began operations in 1898
and operated streetcars until 1938 when the service was discontinued.
Claremont Railway: The Claremont Railway served the City
of Claremont and operated streetcars until 1932. However, the railroad
also provided freight services, which continue on to this day. During
its electrified years the Claremont Railway used electric motors but it
has long since scrapped these in favor of diesel locomotives.
Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury Street Railway: The
Exeter, Hampton & Amesbury Street Railway took over the operations
of the Exeter Street Railway in 1899, a system that was incorporated
just two years prior in 1897. It operated under a number of different
owners (New Hampshire Traction Company, New Hampshire Electric Railways and the Exeter Railway & Lighting Company)
during the company's existence but always retained its original name.
Streetcar service lasted until 1924 when it was discontinued.
Laconia Street Railway: The Laconia Street Railway served
the City of Laconia. It began operations in 1882 and provided
streetcar service until 1926 when it was discontinued.
Manchester Street Railway: The
Manchester Street Railway served
the cities of Manchester and Nashua. It began operations in 1899 taking
over the property of the Manchester Horse Railroad, which had its roots
dating back to 1871. It remained the Manchester Street Railway until
1925 when it became known as the Manchester Traction Light
& Power Company, and then a year later was purchased by the Public
Service Company of New Hampshire. Streetcar service lasted until 1940
when it was discontinued in favor of buses.
Nashua Street Railway: The Nashua Street Railway
served the City of Nashua. It was the only interurban railroad to serve
the town and began operations in 1886, providing passenger service
until 1932 when it was abandoned.
Uncanoonuc Incline Railway: The Uncanoonuc Incline
Railway was a unique interurban railroad operation. It began operations
in June of 1907 operating from a connection with the Manchester Street
Railway at Shirley Junction to a station based at the bottom of the
bottom of a nearby mountain. From there it operated an incline railway
to the Uncanoonuc Hotel, which
provided a spectacular view into the surrounding states of Maine,
Vermont and Massachusetts (not to mention the Atlantic Ocean itself).
The railway operated into the 1940s when it was finally abandoned.
Other Notable New Hampshire interurbans and streetcar railroads:
Berlin-Gorham Street Railway
Concord Electric Railway
Atlantic Coast Electric Railway: The Atlantic Coast Electric
Railway connected Allenhurst with Long Branch and Sea Girt. It began
operations in 1895 and operated until 1927 when it became known as the
Coast Cities Railway. It lasted only four years more until being
discontinued in favor of buses.
Atlantic City & Shore Railroad: The Atlantic City & Shore Railroad began operations in 1906 and connected Atlantic City
with Ocean City. Lasting longer than most other interurban railroads
it was finally discontinued in 1948 in favor of buses. Interestingly
the interurban never purchased much new equipment operating its original
fleet of streetcars from its inception.
Pennsylvania-Reading-Seashore Lines: The
Pennsylvania-Reading-Seashore Lines or PRSL was a jointly operated
electrified commuter operation between the Pennsylvania and Reading
Railroads in southern New Jersey. It connected Camden with Atlantic
City, Cape May and several branches extending south and west of these
points. To learn more about the PRSL please click here.
Morris County Traction: The Morris County Traction began
operations in July of 1904 originally serving Dover. Ten years later,
however, the system had expanded service to also reach Newark,
Morristown and Summit. The interurban railroad was abandoned in 1928
and its operations converted to buses.
Atlantic & Suburban Railway: The Atlantic &
Suburban Railway began operations in 1908, created by the reorganization
of the Atlantic City & Suburban Traction Company. The interurban
railroad operated about 16 miles of track connecting Atlantic City,
Pleasantville, Absecon and Somers Point.
Atlantic Highlands, Red Bank & Long Branch Electric Railway:
The Atlantic Highlands, Red Bank & Long Branch Electric
Railway was the first incorporated interurban railroad to serve Red
Bank. It began operations in 1896 and lasted just five years until 1901
when it became the Monmouth County Electric Railway. Streetcar service
lasted another twenty years before being discontinued in 1921 when
buses replaced the operation.
Jersey Central Traction: Despite
its name, this line was not affiliated with the Central Railroad of New
Jersey (a main line railroad also often referred to as the Jersey
Central). The Jersey Central Traction Company
began operations in 1901 taking over from the Keyport & Matawan
Street Railway, which dated back to 1891, when the line was electrified.
At its peak Jersey Central Traction connected Perth Amboy, Red Bank
and Highlands. In 1917 the interurban was purchased by the American
Railways Company and streetcar service was discontinued by 1923.
Trenton Princeton Traction Company: The Trenton Princeton
Traction Company operated within the City of Trenton and would come
under the control of the Reading Railroad. Passenger service on the
railroad lasted until 1941 but freight service carried on into the 1970s before the route was finally abandoned.
Trenton Transit: Trenton Transit was another interurban
railroad serving the City of Trenton. It remained in operation until
December of 1934 when service was discontinued in favor of buses.
Bergen County Traction Company: The Bergen County
Traction Company began operations in 1896 serving the City of Weehawken.
It lasted only four years before becoming the New Jersey & Hudson
River Railway & Ferry Company in 1900. The property again changed
hands in 1910 when it was purchased by the Public Service Railway
Company. Streetcar service lasted until 1938 when it was abandoned in
favor of buses.
Public Service Corporation of New Jersey: This company
was not a true interurban but did operate numerous streetcar systems
across the state. Its history dated back to 1899 and by 1902 offered
streetcar service between Jersey City
and Camden along with trackage rights over the Pennsylvania Railroad.
In 1904 it opened the Camden & Trenton Railway serving its namesake
towns. By 1912 it also operated a route known as the Public Service
Fast Line and purchased a defunct railroad, the New Jersey Short Line
Railroad. By 1915 it was serving more towns including Perth Amboy,
Carteret, Bayway, and Bonhamtown. With little freight service
cutbacks began as early as 1924. Over the next decade its remaining
lines were slowly converted to bus service until the final segment was
abandoned by 1937.
New Jersey Rapid Transit Company:
This company opened to the public in 1910 connecting East Paterson and
Ho-Ho-Kus, later reaching Suffern, New York. It was never very
profitable and after being purchased by the Public Service Corporation
in 1927 was abandoned two years later.
New Jersey Interurban Company: The New Jersey Interurban
began operations in 1906 connecting Phillipsburg, Easton, Washington,
and Port Murray on an 18-mile system originally known as the Easton
& Washington Traction Company. It had difficulty from the start and
was abandoned by 1925, less than two years after being renamed as the
New Jersey Interurban Company.
Bridgeton & Millville Traction Company: The B&MT was an
early streetcar system, dating back to 1892 when it was chartered to
connect its namesake towns. By 1922, with little freight traffic, the
first cutbacks began and it was renamed as the Cumberland Traction
Company. In 1931 the line was entirely abandoned.
Five Mile Beach Electric Railway: The Five Mile Beach Electric
Railway is one of the rare few interurban railroads to still be in
operation today. It began operations in 1902 and has served the Cape
May area for over a century, and now also provides bus services.
Other notable New Jersey interurbans and streetcar railroads:
Brunswick Traction Company
Burlington & Mt. Holly Railroad (A Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary, later known as the Burlington County Traction Company.)
Camden & Trenton Railway
Camden Ferry Terminal
Cape May, Delaware Bay & Sewells Point Railroad
Jersey City, Hoboken & Patterson Street Railway
Perth Amboy Railroad
Trenton & Mercer County Traction Corporation
Trenton, New Hope & Lambertville Street Railway
Union Traction Company
West Jersey & Shore Railroad (Served Atlantic City.)
City Electric Railway
Las Vegas & Hot Springs Electric Railway
Albany & Southern Railroad: The Albany &
Southern Railroad served the City of Albany and surrounding area.
Perhaps most unique about the A&S was that it used third-rail for
electric power instead of the more traditional overhead catenary. The
line lasted until the 1920s when it was abandoned.
United Traction Company: The United Traction Company
served the City of Albany and operated through the mid-1940s before
finally discontinuing streetcar service.
Auburn & Syracuse Railway: The Auburn & Syracuse
Railway connected Auburn and Skaneatles operating a 27-mile system
between the two cities. Streetcar service lasted until 1930 when the
final segment of the route was abandoned.
International Railway: The International Railway began operations in 1895 originally connecting Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
A few years later it built extensions serving both Lockport and
Olcott. The last remnants of streetcar service remained until 1939 when
it was entirely replaced by buses, notably Central Greyhound Lines and
Lockport Bus Lines. In 1950 the interurban railroad became known as the
Niagara Frontier Transit System, Inc. predecessor to today's Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester Railway: The Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester
Railway began operations in 1908 eventually connecting Lockport and
Rochester. It operated streetcars until 1931 when the service was
discontinued in favor of buses.
Elmira Street Railway: The Elmira Street Railway served the City of Elmira operating until March of 1939 when the service was discontinued.
Geneva, Seneca Falls & Auburn Railroad: The Geneva,
Seneca Falls & Auburn was incorporated in 1895. The interurban
railroad was only able to connect Geneva and Seneca Falls, never
reaching Auburn. It operated until 1928 when streetcars were replaced
Geneva, Waterloo, Seneca Falls & Cayuga Lake Traction:
The Geneva, Waterloo, Seneca Falls & Cayuga Lake Traction Company
was the merged name of two former systems, the Geneva & Waterloo
Railway and Geneva Surface Railway beginnign operatins in 1895. The
inteurban railroad would go on to connect its namesake towns (Geneva,
Waterloo, Seneca Falls and Cayuga Lake) operating about 18 miles of
trackage in total. In 1909 the line fell into bankruptcy and was
renamed the Geneva & Auburn Railway. This railroad also fell into
bankruptcy and was reorganized in 1913 as the Geneva, Seneca Falls &
Auburn Railroad. The system was never very successful and finally
called it quits in 1925.
Hudson Valley Railway: The Hudson Valley Railway
connected Mechanicville and Stillwater and operated until 1928 when the
service was abandoned due to increased competition from automobiles and highways.
Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad: The Fonda,
Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad was more of a traditional railroad
than an interurban but it did operate some electrified lines. The
FJ&G began operations in 1867 and at its peak reached a maximum
length of 130 miles. Its interurban operations lasted only until the
latter 1930s but freight operations remained through 1974 when it was
taken over by the Delaware Otsego System.
Hornell Traction Company: The Hornell Traction Company
operated a short interurban railroad operation between Hornell and
Canisteo. The service remained until August of 1926 when it was
Ithaca Traction Corporation: The Ithaca Traction
Corporation connected Ithaca and Remington but primarily served Cornell
University and movie studios located at Renwick Park. It remained in
service until 1935 when it was abandoned in favor of buses.
Chautauqua Traction Company: The Chautauqua Traction Company served the Chautauqua Lake area connecting Jamestown, Mayville, Westfield and Barcelona.
It began operations in 1903 and would eventually gain connections to
two large Class Is including the Pennsylvania Railroad and Nickel Plate
Road. Service lasted until 1925 when it was abandoned.
Jamestown Street Railway: The Jamestown Street Railway served the City of Jamestown
and was incorporated in 1883, originally being horse-powered. It began
operations a year later in the summer of 1884 and by 1891 replaced its
horses with electrified streetcars. During this time the interurban
built extensions to Lakewood, Celoron Park and Ashville. The railroad
lasted until January of 1938 when its last segment still operating in Jamestown was abandoned.
Jamestown, Westfield & Northwestern Railroad: The Jamestown,
Westfield & Northwestern Railroad began operations in June of 1881
originally connecting Mayville with the Chautauqua area (including Lake
Chautauqua). At its peak the JW&NW connected Jamestown
and Westfield. When the line upgraded to electrified operations in
1913 it used a 650-volt DC system. Interestingly, the interurban lasted
until 1950 when the final segment of the route was finally abandoned.
Niagara Gorge Railroad, "The Great Gorge Route": The Niagara Gorge Railroad operated between Niagara Falls and Lewiston through the Niagara
Gorge, as its name implied. It was incorporated in 1895 and remained
in operation until a massive rock slide shutdown the interurban railroad
for good in 1935.
Niagara Junction Railway: The Niagara Junction Railway
was more of a traditional freight railroad than an interurban. Still,
it was an entirely electrified operation serving 11 miles of trackage
throughout the City of Niagara. For much of its life the Niagara
Junction was controlled by Erie Railroad but became part of Conrail upon
its startup in the spring of 1976 (at which point its electrified
operations were swiftly scrapped). The Niagara Junction Railway is perhaps most famous for its General Electric-built
"Juice Jacks", which it began acquiring in the early 1950s (they
resembled traditional GE diesel switchers like the 44-tonner).
Western New York & Pennsylvania Traction Company: The Western New York
& Pennsylvania Traction Company began operations in 1894 originally
connecting Olean and Alleghany. At its peak the system also connected
Bolivar, Shingle House, Salamanca, Little Valley and Bradford and Lewis
Run, Pennsylvania. In 1921 it was reorganized as the Olean Bradford
& Salamanca Traction Company and by 1927 all streetcar operations
had been replaced by buses.
Oneida Railway: The Oneida Railway began operations in
1885 and would eventually connect Syracuse and Oneida. The interurban
railroad was unique in that it used nontraditional third-rail pickup for
power instead the typical overhead catenary. In 1909 the system became
part of the massive New York State Railways system, which was formed
through by the merger of several upstate interurbans. Streetcar service
on the line remained until 1930 when it was abandoned in favor of
Oneonta Street Railway: The Oneonta Street Railway was the first
of many names on a line that would eventually connect Oneonta,
Richfield Springs, Laurens, Hartwick, Mohawk, Albany, Utica, Rome and
Cooperstown. The Oneonta Street Railway began operations in 1888,
originally as a horse-powered operation. In 1897 the interurban
railroad changed its name to the Oneonta & Otego Valley Railroad to
reflect its intent to further push the line beyond its original line
connecting Oneonta and Richfield Springs. After this the line would
change names no less than five additional times; Oneonta, Cooperstown
& Richfield Springs Railway (1900-1906), Oneonta & Mohawk Valley
Railway (1906-1908), Otsego & Herkimer Railroad (1908-1916),
Southern New York Power & Railway, (1916-1924) and finally Southern New York
Railroad. Interurban service was discontinued on the route in 1933 but
freight traffic survived all of the way through the early 1970s.
Cortland County Traction Company: This interurban
began operations in 1895 as the Cortland & Homer Traction Company
operating a five-mile system serving Cortland and McGrawville. In 1901
it gained its final name and built further to Little York Lake and
Preble giving it a total of 11 miles. The company remained in service
until 1931 when operations were suspended.
Penn Yan, Keuka Park & Branchport Railway: This
little operation began in 1897 connecting Penn Yan and Branchport on a
nine-mile system. It was never extremely successful given the small
communities it served but it did provide some freight service on the
route. Service was ended by 1928.
Peekskill Lighting & Railroad Company: The Peekskill
Lighting & Railroad Company operated between Peekskill, Verplanck
and Mohegan Falls. Service lasted until early 1926 when the line was
Port Jervis Electric Street Railway: The Port Jervis
Electric Street Railway served the City of Port Jervis and was never a
very profitable/successful system. It began operations in 1899 and the
original company lasted only until 1901 when it became known as the Port
Jervis Electric, Light, Power, Gas & Railroad. The railroad lasted
until 1910 when it again changed names as the Port Jervis Traction
Company which was abandoned that same year.
Poughkeepsie & Wappingers Falls Railway: The
Poughkeepsie & Wappingers Falls Railway served the City of
Poughkeepsie and was most famous for connecting the Vassar College. The
interurban railroad lasted until November 25, 1935 when service was
abandoned in favor of buses.
New York-Auburn & Lansing Railroad: The NY-A&L
began operations in 1906 serving Ithaca and Auburn on a 36-mile main
line that was mostly build over an abandoned freight line. Almost from
the start the company hit financial problems and was in bankruptcy by
1912. In 1914 it emerged as the Central New York Southern Railroad but
was finally abandoned altogether by October, 1923.
Rochester Subway: The Rochester Subway was a unique
operation that employed the old Erie Canal as its right-of-way. It
never really operated underground only in a "ditch" so to speak. The
interurban connected the downtown Rochester area with a nearby General
Motors plant. Interestingly the railroad lasted until June of 1956
before discontinuing services.
Rochester & Eastern Rapid Railway: The Rochester
& Eastern Rapid Railway connected Rochester and Geneva. It was
incorporated in 1901 and opened for business in 1903. The route
remained in service until 1930 when it was replaced by buses.
Buffalo & Lake Erie Traction Company: The B&LET
was one of the state's largest interurbans. Located along Lake Erie the
system connected both Buffalo and Erie on a system that stretched about
92 miles in length. The earliest predecessor of the company dated back
to the Dunkirk & Fredonia Railroad of 1891 and the B&LE did not
complete its main line until 1909. Over the years it acquired smaller
systems like the Buffalo & Hamburg Railway and Buffalo &
Lackawanna Traction Company. Unfortunately, financial problems resulted
early as the line had become to large to support itself. In early 1925
it was reorganized as the Buffalo & Erie Railway and featured
updated equipment. However, this did little to stave off traffic
decline and the final remnants of the railroad were abandoned by 1935.
Lewiston & Youngstown Frontier Railway: This
interurban began operations early, in 1896 serving a 7-mile system
connecting Lewiston and Fort Niagara. Surprisingly, this little line
turned out to be quite profitable as it was able to build up a
substantial carload freight business with area railroads like the Erie,
Wabash, and even the New York Central operating around Niagara Falls.
As such, the L&YF survived well into the 1960s moving freight.
Rochester & Sodus Bay Railway: The Rochester &
Sodus Bay Railway served the Rochester area and was part of the original
New York State Railways system, which was born in 1909 (a New York
Rochester & Suburban Railway: The Rochester &
Suburban Railway served the Rochester area and was part of the original
New York State Railways system, which was born in 1909 (a New York
Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Rapid Railroad: The Rochester,
Syracuse & Eastern Rapid Railroad had big dreams but actually
earned few profits. The interurban railroad began operations in 1906
and would eventually link Rochester with the nearby towns of Newark,
Egypt, Fairport and Palmyra. At its peak the railroad was 87 miles in
length and employed third-rail for power instead of the more traditional
overhead catenary. Financial issues in 1913 forced it to merge with
two nearby interurbans the Auburn & Northern Electric Railroad and
Syracuse, Lake Shore & Northern Railroad forming the Empire United
Railways. Never successful itself this system was broken up in 1916
with the RS&E becoming the Rochester & Syracuse Railroad. It remained in operation until 1931 when it was abandoned.
Schenectady Railway: The Schenectady Railway primarily
served Schenectady and Albany but would also have branches serving
Albany, Troy, Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa operating a system of
over 30 miles. The interurban railroad began operations in 1902 and
lasted until 1946 when it was abandoned in favor of bus service.
Syracuse, Lake Shore & Northern Railroad: The
Syracuse, Lake Shore & Northern Railroad served the Oswego area. It
began operations in 1909 taking over from the Lake Ontario &
Riverside Railway, which dated back to 1896 on a system originally built
by the Oswego Street Railway. It lasted until 1917 when it became
known as the Empire State Railroad Corporation. Streetcar service on
the route lasted until 1931 when it was abandoned in favor of buses.
Troy & New England Railway: The Troy & New
England Railway served the area of Troy and began operations in 1895.
Service on the route lasted until March of 1925 when it was abandoned.
Troy City Railway: The Troy City Railway took over
operations in 1891 from the Troy & Albia Horse Railroad, which dated
back to 1866. The little line lasted only until 1899 when it became
part of the United Traction Company. Interestingly, streetcar service
on the line lasted as late as 1972 before being abandoned.
Syracuse Northern Electric Railway: The Syracuse Northern
began operations in 1908 as the Syracuse & South Bay Electric
Railroad serving Syracuse, South Bay, Oneida Lake, and Brewerton with a
branch extending to Cicero by 1912. It fell into bankruptcy shortly
thereafter and reemerged as the Syracuse Northern Electric in 1917.
Never very profitable it was finally abandoned on January 11, 1932.
Utica & Mohawk Valley Railway: The Utica & Mohawk
Valley Railway began operations in 1901 taking over from the Utica Belt
Line Street Railroad, which dated back to 1886 (the line was originally
built by the Utica & Westerville Railroad of 1864). It lasted only
eight years before becoming part of the New York State Railways in 1909. Streetcar service on the route was abandoned by 1941.
Albany & Hudson Railroad: The A&H began life as
the Albany & Hudson Railway & Power Company of 1899, itself a
conglomerate of three small streetcar systems that had merged; the
Hudson Street Railway, Kinderhook & Hudson Railway, and the
Greenbush & Nassau Electric Railway. Four years later it was
reorganized as the Albany & Hudson due to financial problems, which
persisted throughout its existence despite a well-built route. In 1909
it changed names again as the Albany Southern, and again in 1923 as the
Eastern New York Utilities Corporation. After the latest change the
company purchased new equipment in hopes of regaining ridership, which
proved unsuccessful. Final abandonment came in 1929.
Black River Traction Company: The Black River Traction
Company served the City of Watertown and began operations in 1896 taking
over from the Watertown Street Railway. The interurban railroad
remained in operation until 1937 when it was abandoned in favor of bus
Elmira, Corning & Waverly Railway: A very small
interurban that began as the street car system Waverly, Sayre &
Athens Traction Company in 1900. The company originally connected
Elmira and Watkins Glen on a 23 mile line but soon reorganized as the
Elmira, Corning & Waverly in 1906. It was an early casualty of
highway traffic and abandoned in 1923.
Lima, Honeoye Electric Light: This interurban served the
town of Lima and Honeoye Falls on a five-mile system that first started
in 1892 but proved unsuccessful by 1895 as a standard railroad. In 1899
it began service again as an interurban but was abandoned altogether by
New Paltz, Highland & Poughkeepsie Traction Company:
This company began as the New Paltz & Walkill Valley Railroad in
1897 on a nine-mile system that connected Highland, New Paltz and a
local resort in the nearby Catskill Mountains. In 1900 it was
reorganized as the New Paltz & Poughkeepsie Traction, and again
changed names as the NPH&PT in 1903. Services were abandoned by
Orange County Traction Company: This tiny interurban
served Newburgh and Walden on a 10-mile system that first opened in
1895. It operated some freight service but was abandoned by 1925.
Walkill Transit Company: The Walkill Transit began as the
Middletown-Goshen Traction Company of 1895 connecting its namesake
towns on a 12-mile system. It went bankrupt twice, the first time in
1899 and again in 1905 when it was reorganized into its final name. New
funds allowed the company to upgrade the property in 1906 but profits
were simply not there and the operation was abandoned by 1924.
Keeseville, Ausable, Chasm & Lake Champlain Railroad: Despite its long name the KAC&LC was not very big, just 6 miles in
length connecting Keeseville with the Delaware & Hudson Railroad
near Port Kent. It remained in operation until about 1924.
Paul Smith's Electric Light Power & Railroad Company:
The unique name of this line was due to its service of connecting the
Paul Smith's Hotel in the Adirondack Mountains with Lake Clear Junction
on a small, seven-mile system. Naturally, it was extremely vulnerable
to vehicular traffic and only survived until 1936.
Other notable New York interurbans and streetcar railroads:
Auburn Interurban Electric Railway
Batavia Traction Company
Elmira Light & Railroad Company
Empire State Railways
Ogdensburgh Street Railway (Served the City of Ogdensburgh.)
Paul Smith's Electric Railway (Served the Saranac Lake area.)
Rochester & Brighton Street Railway
Syracuse & Suburban Railway
Syracuse Rapid Transit Railway
Asheville & Eastern Tennessee Railroad: The Asheville
& Eastern Tennessee Railroad began operations in 1909 after it
purchased the Weaverville Electric
Railway & Power Company. This railroad began operations in 1901
connecting Grace, Weaverville and Pack Square in Asheville. The line
remained in service until November, 1922 when it fell into receivership
and was purchased by the Asheville Electric Company. In 1925 the
railroad was again renamed, this time the Carolina Power & Light
Company, which lasted until September 1934 when services were finally
Piedmont & Northern Railroad: The Piedmont &
Northern Railway began in 1910 serving two disconnected routes in North
Carolina and South Carolina: the first stretched from Greenwood to
Belton, Anderson and Clifton, all of which were located in South
Carolina; the second segment connected Gastonia, Belmont, Mt. Holly and
Charlotte in North Carolina. The North Carolina segment was originally
known as the Piedmont Traction Company before the two company's merged
in 1914. The P&N also owned the Greenville, Spartanburg &
Anderson Railway, which operated 96 miles of trackage. The P&N's
original route ran on a 1500-volt, direct current system that carried
both freight and passengers and used heavyweight passenger equipment
throughout much of its existence. The railroad had hoped to close the
gap between its two lines but was denied building the 51-mile extension
by the Interstate Commerce Commission (thanks in part to petitions by
the Southern Railway). For many years the company was owned by the Duke
Power company. Passenger operations lasted until 1951 while freight
used diesel locomotives after 1954. The P&N continued to haul
freight until it came under Seaboard Coast Line control in 1969. Today,
part of the route is being rebuilt in North Carolina for use as a
freight carrier once again using the original P&N name.
Tidewater Power Company: This operation serve the port city of Wilmington and connected to Wrightsville and Wrightsville Beach,
opening in 1902. It remained somewhat profitable for many years thanks
to the popular nearby beaches but finally abandoned operations by 1940.
Piedmont Railway & Electric Company: The Piedmont Railway & Electric
Company served the City of Burlington. It began operations in 1912
eventually operating about eight miles of track. The railroad remained
in service until 1922 when streetcar operations were abandoned.
Charlotte Street Railway: The Charlotte Street Railway
was the first of many interurban operations to serve the city. It began
in 1887 as a horse-powered railroad but had switched to electric
streetcars by 1891. In 1896 the system became the Charlotte Electric
Railway and fourteen years later in 1910 changed again to the Southern
Public Utilities Company. The last owner of the railroad was Duke Power
and at its peak the operation contained 29 route miles. Duke Power
owned the interurban until operations were discontinued in 1938. Today,
light-rail service has returned to Charlotte in the way of the
Charlotte Area Transit System or CATS which began operations in 2003.
North Carolina Public Service Company: The North Carolina
Public Service Company began operations in 1911 connecting Concord and
Kannapolis. It operated about four miles of trackage and lasted until
1925 when services were abandoned.
Durham Street Railway: The Durham Street Railway, incorporated in 1891, was the first of many interurban railroads
to serve the City of Durham. In 1902 the system became known as the
Durham Traction Company and by 1921 was purchased by the Durham Public
Service Company. At its peak the system operated about 11 miles of
track and was discontinued by 1930.
Fayetteville Street Railway & Power Company: The Fayetteville Street Railway & Power Company was the first of several interurban railroads
to serve Fayetteville. It began operations in 1889 but by 1908 became
the Consolidated Railway & Power Company. In 1919 it was again
renamed, this time the Cumberland Railway & Power
Company with its final reorganization coming in 1921 as the Cape Fear
Railways. Never a very profitable railroad operation it was
discontinued by 1926.
Goldsboro Traction Company: The Goldsboro Traction
served the City of Goldsboro. It began operations in 1910 operating
five miles of track and just two years later was renamed the Goldsboro
Electric Railroad company. Services lasted until 1920 when the line was
Greensboro Electric Company: The Greensboro Electric
Company, which began operations in 1902 was the first of three different
names to operate the route. In 1909 it became the North Carolina
Public Service Company, which was purchased by Duke Power in 1927. At
its peak the system operated 11 miles of track and was abandoned in July
of 1934 in favor of buses.
Hendersonville Street Railway: The Hendersonville Street
Railway served the small town of Hendersonville beginning operations in
1891 on three miles of track. It remained in service until 1904 when it
became the Appalachian Interurban Railroad, was continued the
streetcars until 1920 when all operations were discontinued.
New Bern-Ghent Street Railway: The New Bern-Ghent Street
Railway served the coastal town of New Bern beginning operations in 1913
on three miles of track. It lasted until 1929 when services were
Pinehurst Electric Railroad Company: The Pinehurst Electric
Railroad Company served the Pinehurst area and Southern Pines golf club
from 1896 until only 1911 when the unprofitable railroad was abandoned.
At its peak the railroad operated nine miles of track.
Raleigh Street Railway: The Raleigh Street Railway was
the first of three interurban railroads to operate in the city. It
began operations in 1886 as a horse-powered line but by 1891 had
upgraded to electric streetcars. At its peak the railroad operated 11
miles of track. In 1894 the operation was taken over by the Raleigh
Electric Company and then again renamed the Carolina Power & Light
Company in 1908. This railroad operated under two different owners
(Electric Bond & Shares Company and National Power & Light
Company) before being abandoned in favor of buses in 1934.
Salisbury & Spencer Railway: The Salisbury &
Spencer Railway began operations in 1901 and at its peak served nines of
track. In 1924 it was acquired by the North Carolina Public Service
Company and three years later came under Duke Power ownership and
renamed the Southern Public Utilities Company. Service lasted until 1938
when streetcars were scrapped.
Wilmington Street Railway: The
Wilmington Street Railway was the
first of several interurban railroads to serve the port city of
Wilmington. This little railroad began operations in 1892 and remained
until 1902 when it was renamed the Consolidated Railways Light &
Power Company. This operation lasted only five years and in 1907 was
purchased by the Tidewater Power
Company. At its peak the system operated 22 miles of track and
continued to operate streetcars until 1940 when they were discontinued
in favor of buses.
Winston-Salem Street Railway: The Winston-Salem Street
Railway began operations in 1890 and lasted only a year before being
renamed the Winston-Salem Railway & Electric Company. This operated
lasted until 1900 when it was renamed the Fries Manufacturing &
Power Company. In 1913 the railroad became known as the Southern Public
Utilities Company and by 1935 was under Duke Power control. At its peak
the system operated nine miles of track and was abandoned in late
The Capitol Line: The Capitol Line served the capitol building in Bismark on a one-mile system that was state-owned and operated.
Grand Forks Street Railway: The Grand Forks Street
Railway served the City of Grand Forks beginning operations in 1908 and
taking over from the Grand Forks Transit Company of 1904. Streetcar
service on the line lasted until 1934.
Valley City Street & Interurban Railway: The Valley
City Street & Interurban Railway began operations in 1905 connecting
its namesake city. Streetcar service was abandoned in 1948.
Wahpeton Breckenridge Street Railway: The Wahpeton Breckenridge Street Railway served Wahpeton beginning operations in 1910 and discontinuing service in 1925.
Northern States Power Company
Akron Street Railroad: The Akron Street Railroad took
over the operations of the Akron Street Railway & Herdic Company in
1888, which itself was incorporated in 1883. A year later the railroad
was renamed the Akron Electric
Street Railway and again in 1895 as the Akron Street Railway &
Illuminating Company. In the 20th century the railroad was renamed
numerous times; the Northern Ohio Traction Company (1899), Northern Ohio Traction & Light Company (1902), Northern Ohio
Power & Light Company (1926) and finally the Akron Transportation
Company (1930). This last company was the final one to operate
streetcars in Akron as the service lasted until 1947 when it was
discontinued in favor of buses (the company itself survived until 1969).
Scioto Valley Traction Company: The Scioto Valley
Traction Company or SVT was the state's only third-rail operated
interurban railroad using a 600-volt DC system. It began operations in
1904 primarily serving the Columbus area but also built extensions to
Lancaster, Circleville and Chillicothe. Along with passenger services
the SVT also provided some freight service, notably to a nearby power
plant. After passenger operations were discontinued in 1930 freight
service carried on under the Ohio Midland Light & Power Company name. Electric
locomotives provided service until the 1950s when the line was
dieselized and soon after operations were discontinued altogether.
Inter-City Rapid Transit Company: The Inter-City Rapid
Transit Company served both Canton and Massillon. It began operations
in 1930 as it had purchased its route from the Northern Ohio Traction & Light
Company. The NOT&L operated several railroad lines and served
Cleveland, Canton, Akron, Massillon, Uhrichsville, Wadsworth, East
Greenville, Kent, Ravenna, Alliance and Warren. In 1926 the operation was renamed the Northern Ohio
Power & Light Company and it had discontinued operations altogether
by 1932. The Inter-City Rapid Transit Company remained in operation
until 1940 when it too was abandoned.
Stark Electric Railroad: The Stark Electric Railroad
served Salem, Alliance and Canton and began operations in 1904.
Streetcar operations lasted until 1937 when they were abandoned in favor
Chillicothe Electric Railroad, Light & Power Company: The Chillicothe Electric
Railroad, Light & Power Company was one of the first interurban
railroads to operate in the city. It began operations in 1894 and
lasted until 1904 when it became part of the Scioto Valley Traction.
The route itself survived until 1930 when it was abandoned in favor of buses.
Cincinnati Street Railway: The Cincinnati Street Railway
was the city's primary interurban railroad. The operation dated back to
1859 as a horse-powered service. It remained in operation as late as
1959 when streetcars were finally scrapped in favor of buses.
Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad: The Cincinnati &
Lake Erie Railroad, most famous for operating its blazing fast "Red
Devil" streetcars, was one of the largest interurban railroads to ever
operate in the country. Its roots date back to the Cincinnati &
Dayton Traction Company of 1925 which was a 44-mile interurban railroad
operating in southwest Ohio. In January, 1930 this line was merged with
the Indiana Columbus & Eastern and Lima-Toledo Railroad to form the
& Lake Erie Railroad. The C&LE was able to turn around the
misfortunes of its latter two acquisitions (the IC&E and LT) and
with a sizable base of freight traffic on a railroad that stretched over
200 miles in three different states (Ohio, Indiana and Michigan) the
system was one of the most profitable interurbans to ever operate.
Regardless the Great Depression was no easier on the C&LE than other interurban railroads,
not to mention the encroachment of highways and automobiles. By the
late 1930s the C&LE was in serious financial trouble and by May of
1939 abandoned its remaining line between Hamilton and Dayton.
Cincinnati, Milford & Blanchester Traction Company, "The Milford Line": The Cincinnati, Milford & Blanchester Traction Company was the 1917 reorganization of the Cincinnati,
Milford & Loveland Traction Company, which began operations in 1903
connecting Madisonville to Milford on a 17-mile route. It remained in
operation until 1942 when it was abandoned in favor of buses.
Interurban Railway & Terminal Company: The Interurban
Railway & Terminal Company was the merger of the Cincinnati &
Eastern Electric Railway, Suburban Traction Company and Rapid Railway in
1902. These interurbans connected Cincinnati with New Richmond, Bethel
and Lebanon. The IR&T provided service until 1922 when it was
discontinued in favor of buses.
Cleveland Transit System: The Cleveland Transit System
dates back to the early 20th century and provided service between
Windermere and Cleveland Hopkins Airport. In 1975 it became part of the
Regional Transit Authority when it merged with the Shaker Heights Rapid
Transit and operations were subsidized and taken over by the city. Much of the
railroad system continues to operate today serving the Cleveland area.
Cleveland & Berea Railway: The Cleveland & Berea
Railway dates back to the late 19th century and was a predecessor
company of the Cleveland Southwestern & Columbus Railway.
Eastern Ohio Traction Company: The Eastern Ohio Traction
Company, which would later be reorganized as the Cleveland & Eastern
Traction Company, operated a 33-mile railroad between Cleveland and
Chardon. It remained in operation until 1926 when services were
abandoned in favor of buses.
Cleveland & Elyria Electric Railroad: The Cleveland & Elyria Electric
Railroad was the first of several different named railroads to operate
interurban service in the Elyria area. It was chartered in 1884 but by
1886 had been renamed the Cleveland, Berea & Elyria Railway. A year
later it was again renamed, the Cleveland, Berea, Elyria & Oberlin
Railway. The railroad would then go through four additional name
changes: the Cleveland, Elyria & Western Railway (1900); Cleveland
& Southwestern Traction Company (1903); Cleveland, Southwestern
& Columbus Railway (1907); and finally the Cleveland, Southwestern
Railway & Light Company (1924). Streetcar service on the route was discontinued in 1931.
Broadway & Newburgh Street Railroad: The Broadway
& Newburgh Street Railroad began operations in late 1873 providing
transportation services to steel mills located in Newburgh (a suburb of
Beginning as a horse-powered operation the six-mile route switched to
electric streetcars in 1890. In 1893 it merged with the East Cleveland
and Brooklyn & South Side Street Railway to form Cleveland Electric
Cleveland, Painesville & Ashtabula Railroad: The Cleveland, Painesville & Ashtabula Railroad was a subsidiary interurban of the Cleveland,
Painesville & Eastern Railroad. It operated a route connecting
Painesville and Ashtabula, which began service in 1904 and was
discontinued in 1926.
Cleveland, Southwestern & Columbus Railway: The
Cleveland, Southwestern & Columbus Railway began operation in 1895
originally connecting Cleveland and Berea, and known as the Cleveland
& Berea Street Railway. By 1907 the railroad was able to complete
its line to Columbus covering 225 miles and was renamed accordingly, the
Cleveland, Southwestern & Columbus Railway. It remained in service
until 1931 when the interurban was replaced by buses.
Columbus Consolidated Street Railway: The Columbus
Consolidated Street Railway began operations in 1891 and was the first
of many companies to operate the property. In 1892 it was renamed the
Columbus Street Railway and by 1899 had changed again to the Columbus
Railway. In 1914 the system was renamed the Columbus Railway Power
& Light Company and finally in 1937 it became known as the Columbus
& Southern Ohio Electric Company. The C&SOE remained in service
until 1948 when it was abandoned in favor of buses.
Columbus, Delaware & Marion Railway: The Columbus,
Delaware & Marion Railway began operations in March of 1903 after
acquiring a number of small interurban railroads including the Columbus,
Clintonville & Worthington Railway. By the time the CD&M began
it had routes serving downtown Columbus, Worthington, Delaware,
Prospect and Marion. Later it also reached Bucyrus through subsidiary Cleveland Southwestern & Columbus
Railway. The CD&M relied heavily on the CSW&C for freight
service and when it bankrupt in 1930 the parent soon followed. By 1933
the CD&M had abandoned all operations, replacing streetcars with buses.
Columbus, New Albany & Johnstown Traction Company: The
Columbus, New Albany & Johnstown Traction Company connected
Columbus to Gahanna. In 1923 it was sold to the Columbus Railway Power
& Light Company and by 1928 operations had been completely abandoned
in favor of buses.
Dayton & Western Traction Company: This interurban
began operations in June, 1898 serving Dayton and Easton as well as
Richmond, Indiana. At its peak the company operated 41 miles of track
(including a short 3-mile branch). In 1907 it came under the control of
the Ohio Electric but was independent again in 1921. It again came
under ownership by another line in 1931, the C&LE, which operated
the company until 1936. With the effects of the Great Depression the
company was finally abandoned by 1937.
Ohio Electric Railway: The Ohio Electric Railway began
operations in 1907 and would control numerous smaller companies until
its 1921 bankruptcy at which point its subsidiaries once again became
independent operations. These interurban railroads included the
Cincinnati & Hamilton Electric Street Railway; Cincinnati
& Miami Valley Traction Company; Miamisburg & Germantown
Traction Company; Dayton, Springfield & Urbana Railway; Urbana,
Bellefontaine & Northern Railway; Lima & Toledo Traction
Company; Dayton & Western Traction Company; Dayton & Northern
Traction Company; Dayton & Muncie Traction Company; Fort Wayne, Van
Wert & Lima Traction Company; Columbus & Lake Michigan Railway;
Columbus, Buckeye Lake & Newark Traction Company; Columbus, Newark
& Zanesville Electric Railway; and the Columbus, Grove City &
Columbus, Urbana & Western Railway: The Columbus,
Urbana & Western Railway began operations in 1903 connecting
Columbus with Fishingerâ€™s Bridge on a 9-mile railroad system. It
remained in service until 1925 when operations were abandoned.
Columbus Interurban Terminal: The Columbus Interurban Terminal was a freight and passenger station complex built by the Ohio
Electric Railway to serve the city's exploding interurban railroad
operations and give passengers a central hub from which to arrive and
depart in the city. It was built in 1912 and remained in service until
the early 1930s when it was converted to a supermarket and eventually
torn down in the 1960s.
Ohio & Southern Traction Company: The Ohio & Southern Traction Company was a privately owned interurban by a Dr. Samuel Hartman. It connected Columbus
with a Hartman Stock Farm on a five-mile railroad that began operations
in 1903. It remained in service until the late 1920s when operations
Dayton & Xenia Transit Company: The
Dayton & Xenia Transit Company of 1901 was the renamed operation of
the Dayton & Xenia Traction Company of 1899. The D&XT
connected Dayton, Xenia, Belmont and Spring Valley and remained in
operation until 1937 when streetcars were replaced by buses.
Dayton & Troy Electric Railway: The Dayton &
Troy Electric Railway began operations in 1893 originally connecting
Troy and Piqua. In 1901 it extended its reach by opening a new line
between Troy and Dayton. The interurban remained in service until 1932 when it was discontinued.
Dayton, Covington & Piqua Traction Company: The
Dayton, Covington & Piqua Traction Company began operations in 1903
serving its original main line connecting Dayton and Piqua. It was a
rather unsuccessful venture remaining in operation only until 1926 when
operations were abandoned.
Fostoria & Fremont Railway, "The Lima Route": The
Fostoria & Fremont Railway began operations in 1911 connecting
Fostoria and Fremont on its only line. It was sold to the Western Ohio
Railway & Power Company in 1930 and by 1932 had abandoned all
Lake Shore Electric Railway: The Lake Shore Electric
Railway began operations in August of 1901 through the merger of the
Lorain & Cleveland
Railway; Sandusky & Interurban Railway; Toledo, Fremont &
Norwalk Railway; and Sandusky, Milan & Norwalk Railway. It would
later also add the Lorain Street Railway and Avon Beach & Southern
Railway to its system. At its peak the LSE hugged the Lake Erie
shoreline connecting Cleveland with Detroit via Norwalk, Fremont and
Toledo. A strike in 1938 forced the carrier to suspend all operations.
Maumee Valley Railways & Light Company: This
interurban began service in August, 1894 as the Toledo & Maumee
Valley Railway connecting its namesake towns on a 22-mile system. It
merged with the Toledo, Waterville & Southern Railway in 1902 to
form the Maumee Valley Railways & Light Company which added lines to
Defiance and Napoleon. It also operated a branch to Waterville. It
was later purchased by the Toledo Railways & Light Company but by
the early 1920s was in financial trouble. Operations ended by 1924.
Lake Erie, Bowling Green & Napoleon Railway: The
LEBG&N began operations in in late November, 1902 serving Bowling
Green and Pemberville, where there would later be an interchange witht
he TF&F. Unfortunately, it served communities too small to remain
profitable very long. At its peak the system was about 23 miles in
length when it also reached Woodville in 1906 and later Tontogany in
1910. It had plans to continue further but was never profitable enough
to do so. In 1911 it entered bankruptcy and suspended operations by
1916 when it was sold to the TF&F.
Fort Wayne, Van Wert & Lima Traction Company: The
FWVW< would become another Ohio Electric affiliate. It was rather
large when it opened in November, 1905 connecting Fort Wayne (Indiana)
and Lima on a 62-mile system. Unfortuately, it mostly paralleled the
Pennsylvania and by 1907 had become part of the OE. From 1921 to 1926
it was independent after the OE collapsed but entered bankruptcy itself
that decade and emerged as the Fort Wayne-Lima Railroad and was again
under outside control by the Indiana Service Corporation. It again fell
into bankruptcy in 1931 and was abandoned a year later.
Lancaster Electric Railway: The Lancaster Electric
Railway began operations in 1895 serving the City of Lancaster. Three
years later in 1898 it changed its name to the Lancaster Traction
Company and again in 1906 as the Lancaster Traction & Power Company.
It remained in service until 1937 when streetcar service was replaced
Springfield & Xenia Railroad: The S&X began
service in 1902 serving its namesake cities and was originally known as
the Springfield & Xenia Traction Company. However, after just two
years of operation it fell into bankruptcy and was reorganized into its
final name. It was marginally provided serving the local Antioch
College but fell into bankruptcy again in 1928 and was finally scrapped
in the summer of 1934.
Springfield & Washington Railway: The S&W was
another small interurban serving small towns. It began in late
December, 1904 as the Charleston, Washington Court House &
Chillicothe Traction Company operating a 15 mile system from Springfield
to South Charleston. It never made it to Chillicothe and struggled
from the start falling into bankruptcy by 1904. The line went through a
few name changes before being abandoned altogether by 1922.
Springfield, Troy & Piqua Railway The ST&P never
reached Piqua but did open a 30-mile route serving Troy and Springfield
in 1904. Most of the system was abandoned by 1923 but about 3 miles was
saved for freight services as the Springfield Suburban Railroad and
remained in operation until 1959.
Lorain Street Railway: The Lorain Street Railway began
operations in 1894 serving the City of Lorain. It was renamed the
Lorain Street Railroad in 1906 and continued on under this banner until
streetcar service was abandoned in 1937 in favor of buses.
Kanawha Traction & Electric Company: The Kanawha Traction & Electric Company served Parkersburg, West Virgina and Marietta, Ohio
via a rail/highway bridge at Williamstown, West Virginia. It began
operations as the Parkersburg, Marietta & Interurban Traction
Company being renamed the Kanawha Traction & Electric in 1915. In
1923 this operation became part of the expansive Monongahela-West Penn
Public Service Company, which had operations in western West Virginia
around Parkersburg and north-central West Virginia around Fairmont. In
1943 the company sold off the Parkersburg-Marietta division with it
being renamed the City Lines of West Virginia. The operation lasted
only a few years after the war and was subsequently abandoned (today the
rails remain in the historic brick streets in downtown Marietta).
Ohio River Electric Railway & Power Company: The Ohio
River Electric Railway & Power Company served Racine, Pomeroy and
Gravel Hill beginning operations in 1900. It operated streetcar service
on about a 15-mile railroad system until 1929 when operations were
Indiana, Columbus & Eastern Traction Company: The
IC&ET was chartered in 1906 to take over several regional systems
that were having monetary difficulty due to the 1903 financial panic.
Towns it would served included New Paris, Union City, Dayton, Columbus,
Orient, Lima, and Defiance and had numerous connections with other lines
including the large Western Ohio. In 1907 it became part of the OE
system but was again independent by 1921. Unfortunately, throughout the
1920s the company remained in bankruptcy and was slowly abandoned or
sold off various lines. In 1929 it became part of the C&LE and was
completely abandoned by 1939.
Southeast Ohio Railway & Light Company: This small
interurban served Zanesville and Crooksville on a 14 mile line that
opened in 1906. It was never profitable and changed names early as the
Southeastern Ohio Railway Company but was abandoned by 1924.
Mansfield Railway Light & Power Company: Another
small line that was not very profitable. The company began life as the
Citizens Electric Light & Power Company serving the streets of
Mansfield until 1901 when it constructed a 12-mile extension to Shelby
and reorganized into as the MRL&P. It was sued in 1915 and forced
to end operations. As such, it was reorganized as the Mansfield Public
Utility & Service Company and was last part of the Ohio Public
Service Company before being abandoned in March, 1934.
Columbus, Magnetic Springs & Northern Railway: The
CMS&N was a very small operation operating 18 miles between a
connection at Delaware with the CD&M with the resort area of
Magnetic Springs. It originally started in 1904 as the Delaware &
Magnetic Springs Railway but was merged with the Richwood & Magnetic
Springs Railway in 1906 to form the CMS&N. These types of small
operations never survived long and abandonment occurred early on the
first day of 1919.
Wellston & Jackson Belt Railway: The W&JB began
operations around 1895 as a subsidiary of the standard railroad,
Columbus, Hocking valley & Toledo, serving its namesake towns. It
was quite unsuccessful and abandoned very early, in 1915.
Gallipolis & Northern Traction Company: The G&NT
was another small interurban that was not very successful from the
started. It took over street operations in 1905 of the former
Gallipolis & Point Pleasant Railway along the Ohio River near West
Virginia. In 1907 it too was taken over by the Kanauga & Gallipolis
Traction Company which connected Gallipolis and Point Pleasant, West
Virginia in 1908 using its own bridge across the river. This company
failed as well and became the Gallipolis & Northern Traction
Company. None of these companies could ever turn a profit and the
entire operation was finally scrapped in 1923.
Portsmouth Street Railroad & Light Company: This
interurban was about 29 miles in length and served Ironton and
Portsmouth. It took the company nearly 25 years to complete the route
after first opening in 1893 (around 1917). It too could not earn much
profit and was abandoned by 1929 after having been renamed as the
Portsmouth Public Service Company in 1923.
Sandusky, Norwalk & Mansfield Railway: The Sandusky,
Norwalk & Mansfield Railway began operations in 1904 initially
serving Norwalk and Plymouth. By 1907 it had extended a branch between
Plymouth and Shelby. In 1921 operations were sold and subsequently
Cambridge Power, Light & Traction Company: This small
interurban operated just seven miles between Cambridge and Byesville,
opening in 1903. In 1910 it was purchased by the Midland Power &
Traction Company, which two years later was changed to the New Midland
Power & Traction company. It was able to complete a short branch to
Pleasant City, about five miles, but was never able to gain an
interchange with the nearby Pennsylvania Railroad. It was again
acquired in 1915 by the Ohio Service Company, in whose possession it
remained until abandonment in early 1927.
Cleveland, Alliance & Mahoning Valley Railway: The
CA&MV was the last interurban built in Ohio, opening in early
January, 1913 purchasing a 13 mile section of the B&O's original
main line between Ravenna and Alliance. It was never able to reach
Cleveland and was likewise never profitable. Abandonment came very soon
in just 1920.
Pennsylvania & Ohio Electric Railway: Despite its
grand name, this company operated only in Ohio on a 25 mile system that
connected Conneaut, Ashtabula, and Jefferson that first opened in 1901.
It had an interchange with the Cleveland, Painesville & Erie
although it was never able to generate much in the way of revenue. It
was bankrupt by 1919, reorganized as the Pennsylvania & Ohio
Traction Company and finally abandoned altogether by 1924.
East Liverpool & Wellsville Street Railway: The East
Liverpool & Wellsville Street Railway began operations in 1892
serving the City of East Liverpool. In 1897 the railroad system was
renamed the East Liverpool Railway and again in 1905 as the East
Liverpool Traction & Light Company. This interurban operated for
about ten years before changing hands again as the Steubenville, East
Liverpool & Beaver Valley Traction Company, which it remained until
1939 when operations were discontinued in favor of buses.
Tiffin, Fostoria & Eastern Electric Railway: The
Tiffin, Fostoria & Eastern Electric Railway was the 1898
reorganization of the Tiffin & Fostoria Electric Railway. It
operated a main line between Tiffin and Fostoria before being sold to
the Toledo, Fostoria & Findlay Railway in 1925, which operated the
line for another five years before abandoning all services in 1930.
Toledo & Indiana Railroad: The Toledo & Indiana
Railroad in 1911 on a system originally called the Toledo & Indiana
Railway (and after 1910 as the Toledo & Indiana Traction Company).
The line opened in 1905 connecting Toledo
to Bryan, never reaching Indiana. It was abandoned in 1939 and after
1926 was under the direction of the Cities Service Company.
Monroe Traction Company: The Monroe Traction Company of
1901 was actually a Michigan interurban but would connect to Toledo in
later years. In 1902 the system was renamed the Toledo & Monroe
Railway and a year later was known as the Detroit, Monroe & Toledo
Short Line Railway. It changed hands again as the Detroit United
Railway in 1906 and remained under this direction until services were
suspended in 1928.
Toledo & Western Railway: The Toledo & Western
Railway was primarily a freight railroad but did provide interurban
service. It began operations in 1901 connecting Toledo with Adrian,
Michigan. Passenger services survive until 1933 and freight followed
soon after in 1935.
Toledo, Port Clinton & Lakeside Railway: The Toledo,
Port Clinton & Lakeside Railway began operations in 1906 connecting
Toledo with Marblehead. It provide passenger service until 1939 when
streetcars were promptly replaced by buses.
Toledo, Bowling Green & Southern Traction Company:
The Toledo, Bowling Green & Southern Traction Company began
operations in 1902 connecting Toledo with Findlay. It operated until
1930 when operations were discontinued.
Toledo, Fostoria & Findlay Railway: The Toledo,
Fostoria & Findlay Railway began operations in 1901 originally
connecting Toledo with Findlay. Later, the TF&F extended operations
and Fostoria via Pemberville. The TF&F was discontinued in 1930
but its main line between Fostoria and Findlay remained in service until
1932 under the Western Ohio Railway & Power Company.
Mahoning Valley Railway: The Mahoning Valley Railway
began operations around the turn of the 20th century on a railroad
system originally built by the Mineral Ridge & Niles Electric Street
Railway of 1894 serving the Youngstown area. It was renamed the
Mahoning & Shenango Railway & Light Company in 1906 and again in
1920 as the West End Traction Company. Passenger operations survived
until 1927 when they were abandoned in favor of buses.
Hocking-Sunday Creek Traction Company: The H-SCT was
chartered in 1909 and eventually connected Nelsonville and Athens on a
system that covered 15 miles. It failed after the area's coal mines
played out in the early 1920s, which resulted in decreased ridership.
After being renamed as the Nelsonville-Athens Electric Railway Company
it was finally abandoned by 1932.
Youngstown & Ohio River Railroad: The Youngstown &
River Railroad began operations in 1909 connecting East Liverpool with
Salem. The Y&OR provided both freight and passenger service with
connections to both the Youngstown & Southern Railway and
Pittsburgh, Lisbon & Western Railroad. It remained in service until
1931 when operations were abandoned.
Youngstown & Southern Railroad: The Youngstown &
Southern Railroad began operations in 1904 originally connecting
Youngstown and Columbiana on a railroad that stretched 16 miles. A few
years later in 1907 it extended its reach via a three-mile branch to
Leetonia where it connected with the Youngstown & Ohio River. In
1916 the passenger and freight line was reorganized as the Youngstown
& Suburban Railway only to be returned to its original name in 1944.
Passenger service ended in 1948 and the remaining freight operations
were converted to diesel locomotives as electric service was scrapped.
Cincinnati, Lawrenceburg & Aurora Electric Street Railroad Company:
The CL&AE dated back to 1900 connecting Anderson's Ferry (near
Cincinnati) with Aurora, Indiana along a main line that stretched about
25 miles. In 1913 a flood forced the company into bankruptcy and was
finally abandoned by 1930.
Cincinnati, Georgetown & Portsmouth Railroad: The
CG&P began early in the industry, in 1886, starting as a 3-foot
narrow-gauge line connecting Cincinnati and nearby Georgetown, 41 miles
away. It was standard gauged and converted to electric power in 1902
extending to Lake Allyn, Coney Island, and Russellville. Ownership of
the Felicity & Bethel Railroad gave the company an additional nine
miles of system. It tried to develop an extensive freight business,
even using steam locomotives for the service, but had difficulty doing
so. It fell into bankruptcy in 1928 and became the Cincinnati
Georgetown Railroad Company. In 1936 the road finally succumbed to
Lebanon & Franklin Traction Company: The L&FT
began operations in May of 1904 serving an 11 mile system serving its
namesake towns where it also had an interchange with the Ohio Electric
and Interurban Railway & Terminal Company although the latter
company's broad gauge prevented much use of such. Serving a very small
area resulted in a quick abandonment as it ceased operations by just
Cincinnati & Columbus Traction Company: The C&CT
began operations on April 22, 1906 connecting Cincinnati, Hillsboro, and
Norwood on a 53-mile line. It was never able to reach its original
charter of Columbus and was only marginally profitable (due to the fact
that the B&O had a line close by that served nearly the same towns).
It fell into bankruptcy early, in 1913 and was abandoned quite early
Zanesville Street Railway:
The Zanesville Street Railway was the
first of many interurban railroads to serve the city. It began
operations in 1891 but by 1896 was known as the Zanesville Railway &
Electric Company. It was renamed four more times (Zanesville Electric
Railway, 1899; Zanesville Railway Light & Power Company, 1902;
Columbus Newark & Zanesville Electric Railway, 1904; Southern Ohio
Public Service Company, 1925) before streetcar operations were
abandoned in 1929 in favor of buses.
Western Ohio Railway: As mentioned above, the Western
Ohio owned a number of small systems. It was chartered in 1900 to
connect Lima, Wapakoneta, and Minster and completed the 36-mile route
two years later. Through the next several years it grew into a 115 mile
operation serving Piqua to the south and Findlay to the north along
with its subsidiary systems. The company hoped to also build into
Indiana but funds never allowed this and financing could no be secured.
By the early 1920s monetary difficulties slowly eroded the company and
fell into bankruptcy emerging as the Western Ohio Railway & Power
Company in 1928. Four years later the system was abandoned in entirely
in January, 1932.
Other notable Ohio interurbans:
Cleveland West Side Street Railway
Community Traction (Served the Toledo area.)
Conneaut & Erie Traction Company
Consolidated Company, The (Served the area of Cambridge.)
Cuyahoga Falls Rapid Transit Company
Dayton, Springfield & Xenia Southern Railroad
Mahoning & Shenango Valley Traction Company
Mansfield Electric Railway (Served the City of Mansfield.)
Mt. Vernon Railway & Light Company
Ohio Central Traction Company
Ohio River & Columbus Railway
Richland Public Service Company
Springfield Suburban Railroad
Steubenville Traction & Light Company
Steubenville, Wierton & Wellsburg Traction Company
Toledo & Eastern Railroad
Toledo & Maumee Valley Railway
Toledo Railway & Light Company
Youngstown & Sharon Street Railway
Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Railway: The T-SU became one of
Oklahoma's larger interurbans. It began service in 1908 connecting
Sapulpa, Kiefer and Mounds but fell into bankruptcy
just a few years later in 1912 at which point it was merged with the
Oklahoma Union Railway. This interurban had completed a route from
Tulsa to Sapulpa giving the entire operation a through line between
Mounds and Tulsa (about 25 miles). Bankruptcies in the late 1920s
reorganized the system as the Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Railway by 1943.
Interestingly, its freight operations became more profitable as time
went on, largely thanks to the regional oil business. Today, it has a
much wider array of freight it moves.
Pittsburg County Railway: This small operation eventually
served McAlester, Haileyville, and Hartsthorne on a 17-mile system that
dated back to a streetcar line of McAlester, which later became known
as the Choctaw Railway & Lighting Company. It was owned by several businesses
over the years but became independent by the 1920s. The company was
able to build up a somewhat profitable freight business that carried
through the end of World War II. It was finally forced to abandon in
Shawnee-Tecumseh Traction Company: The S-TT was a very
small operation using a 6-mile line serving its namesake towns and
opening in early September, 1906. Given the small towns it served it
was never very profitable although did survive until 1927.
El Reno Interurban Railway : The El Reno Interurban
Railway began operations in 1902 serving the City of El Reno. In 1911
the railroad was renamed the Oklahoma Railway and survived until 1933
when streetcar service was abandoned.
Metropolitan Railway: The Metropolitan Railway was
Oklahoma City's first interurban beginning operations in 1902. It
lasted only two years before being renamed the Oklahoma City Railway in
1904, which then became just the Oklahoma
Railway that same year. This interurban railroad lasted until 1947 and
streetcar service was abandoned a year earlier in favor of buses.
Chickasha Street Railway: The Chickasha Street Railway
served the town of Chickasha beginning operations in 1910. It remained
in service until 1927 when it was abandoned in favor of buses.
Guthrie Railway: The Guthrie Railway was a line that should have
never been built. It was meant to serve the town of Guthrie but
quickly ran into financial trouble and was abandoned by 1905.
Tulsa Street Railway: The Tulsa Street Railway was the City of Tulsa's
primary interurban railroad line. It began operations in 1906 and
provided streetcar service until 1928 when it was abandoned in favor of
Lawton & Fort Sill Electric Railway: The Lawton & Fort Sill Electric
Railway served the area of Lawton and was the first interurban
railroad, becoming the Lawton Railway & Lighting Company in 1912.
Streetcar service on the line lasted until 1928 when it was abandoned in
favor of buses.
Northeast Oklahoma Railroad: The Northeast Oklahoma Railroad served the Miami area connecting such towns as Commerce,
Cardin, Picher, Treece, Cravensville and Columbus. It operated about
23 miles of trackage and remained in service until the 1930s when it was
Oklahoma Railway: This interurban had a late start and
did begin operations until December, 1911 when it purchased the El Reno
Interurban Railway that had recently completed a 29-mile route
connecting Oklahoma City and El Reno. A few years the company had two
additional lines radiating from Oklahoma City serving Guthrie and
Norman. In total, it was a rather large company owning 78 miles of main
line. After passenger traffic began to seriously decline in the 1920s
the Oklahoma finally looked to develop a more serious carload freight
business, which it actually became quite successful with. To help
facilitate this business it purchased the small Oklahoma Belt and
Oklahoma City Junction Railway. The company was able to stay in
operation until World War II when it finally sold the freight lines to
the Rock Island and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (the Santa
Muskogee Electric Traction Company: Another small
Oklahoma interurban that connected Muskogee and Gibson on a 10-mile
system that opened in 1911. Interestingly, because it was able to build
up some freight service the company survived much longer than may have been expected. It was finally abandoned in 1934.
Bartlesville Interurban Railway: This little interurban
opened in 1908 on an eight-mile line that connected Bartlesville and
Smeltertown. It struggled throughout most of its existence and was
abandoned by 1921.
Sand Springs Railway: The
Sand Springs Railway dates back to
1911 when it began operations as an interurban railroad and freight line
serving Sand Springs and Tulsa on a 32-mile system. Interestingly the
little line survived the interurban fallout that left many systems
bankrupt and out of service as early as the 1920s. In the mid-1950s it
ended electric operations and
switched its locomotive fleet entirely to diesel. Today, it carries on
as a Class III, shortline railroad with connections with the Union
Pacific, BNSF Railway and South Kansas Oklahoma Railroad and traffic
based in everything from steel and scrap iron to chemicals, paper,
plastic and lumber.
Other notable Oklahoma interurbans:
Ardmore Traction Company
Cushing Traction Company
Sapulpa & Interurban Railway
Pacific Power & Light Company: The Pacific Power
& Light Company operated streetcar service in the City of Astoria.
It remained in service until a massive downtown fire thoroughly
destroyed the interurban's infrastructure causing it to close forever.
Portland Traction Company: The Portland Traction,
commonly known as Pepco in its later days, moved significant amount of
passengers although its system was only about 50 miles in length
altogether. Its history dates back to the earliest days of the industry
when a line from Oregon City (just south of Portland) to Portland was
completed and known as the East Side Railway, opening in February, 1893.
A second route was opened ten years later, covering 36 miles and
southeastward to Cazadero. This line was primarily used to tap freight
business and interchange with the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific.
Later that decade the interurban continued to grow, reaching Troutdale
and Gresham as well as Bull Run and Ruby via its ownership of the Mount
Hood Railway & Power Company. During the late 1920s and through the Great Depression
the company was hard pressed and forced to cut back some of its lines.
However, World War II allowed it to rebound to some degree
but after the war's end passenger traffic continued to decline.
Interestingly, Pepco was the longest operated interurban in the country
to carry on passenger operations when it finally ended these in 1958.
Its freight business carried on far longer although the company slowly
eroded away, especially in the 1980s. The last remnants of the company
were abandoned by 1990.
Oregon Electric Railway: The Oregon Electric
Railway is the state's most famous interurban, mostly due to the
company's many years of operation. It began operations in 1907
connecting Portland and Salem. In 1910 it became part of the Spokane,
Portland & Seattle Railway, which extended the main line to Eugene.
While passenger service on the line only survive until 1933 freight
service remained until the 1990s under then Burlington Northern control.
City & Suburban Railway: The City & Suburban Railway of 1891 was not Portland's first interurban but it was the first to consolidate
many of the smaller lines that had sprung up in the city dating back to
Portland Street Railway of 1872. In 1904 the Portland Consolidated
Railway came into existence when the Portland Railway and City &
Suburban merged, the city's largest two interurbans up to that time. A
year later the line became known as the Portland Railway and by 1906
this company had merged with the Oregon Water Power & Railway to
form the Portland Railway, Light & Power Company, the last remaining
interurban in the city. Over the subsequent years this system was
known by several different names; the Mount Hood Railway & Power
Company (1911); Portland Electric Power Company
(1924); Portland Traction Company; and lastly the Portland Railroad
& Terminal Division (1946). Streetcar service survived until 1950
when it was abandoned in favor of buses.
Willamette Valley Southern Railway: This interurban was owned by Portland Electric
Power and connected with the Pepco at Oregon City, heading southward to
reach Mt. Angel about 32 miles away. It was a late operation and did
not begin services until 1915. The company built up some freight service only to lose most of it during the Great Depression.
By that point passenger traffic had also severely declined and was
completely discontinued by 1933. Total abandonment occurred in 1938.
United Railways: This interurban was one of the few to be
owned by a main line railroad, in this case the Spokane, Portland &
Seattle. It began as the West Side & Suburban to serve Portland
and later renamed as the Oregon Traction. In 1908 Unite Railways took
over the company and its charter, opening a route a year later between
Portland, Linnton, and Burlington covering about 12 miles. Extensions
by 1911 gave the company a 28-mile system and served Wilkesboro and
Banks, including a massive 4,100-foot tunnel thanks to financing
from parent SP&S. In 1922 it took over the Portland, Astoria &
Pacific but a year later slowly began to convert to standard steam
locomotives. It continue to operate until World War II and was finally
absorbed by the SP&S in 1943.
Southern Oregon Traction Company: This interurban was the only
one located in the southern region of the state, opening a six-mile
route between Medford and Jacksonville in 1890 as the Rogue River Valley
Railway. In 1915 the system became the Southern Oregon Traction but
was in bankruptcy by 1918. It ended passenger service by 1922 and was
abandoned by 1926.
Portland, Eugene & Eastern Railway: The Portland, Eugene & Eastern Railway, also known as the Red Electric,
was a Southern Pacific subsidiary serving Bertha, Beaverton, Hillsboro,
Forest Grove, McMinnville, Portland, Lake Oswego, Tualatin, Sherwood
and Newburg. The service lasted until 1927 at which point the SP was
successful in discontinuing streetcars after several years of bottom
Allentown & Reading Traction Company: The Allentown & Reading Traction Company Allentown,
Kutztown and Reading beginning operations in 1902. It remained in
operation until 1930 when streetcars were replaced by buses.
Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Railway: The Altoona & Logan Valley Electric
Railway began operations in 1893 originally connecting Altoona with
Hollidaysburg. In 1894 it built a branch between Altoona and Bellwood,
and later extended it to Tyrone in 1902. Its original main line
continued to operate streetcars until 1954 when it was finally replaced
Butler Passenger Railway: The Butler Passenger Railway
began operations in 1899 serving the town of Butler. In 1914 it was
renamed the Pittsburgh & Butler Railway and again in 1917 as Butler
Railways. Streetcar operations remained until 1941 when they were
abandoned in favor of buses.
Chambersburg, Greencastle & Waynesboro Street Railway: The Chambersburg, Greencastle & Waynesboro Street Railway began operations in 1903 and connected its namesake cities
(as well as the towns of Rouzerville and Pen Mar), completed the line
by 1908. It remained in operation until 1932 when streetcar services
Chambersburg & Shippensburg Railway: The Chambersburg
& Shippensburg Railway began operations in 1914 connecting its
namesake cities. It operated streetcars until 1928 when bus services
took over being operated by the Cumberland Valley Transit Company.
Danville & Bloomsburg Street Railway: The Danville
& Bloomsburg Street Railway served the City of Danville and also
connected the nearby town of Bloomsburg. It began operations in October
of 1904 and remained in service until March of 1924 when operations
were discontinued in favor of buses.
Columbia & Montour Electric Railway: The Columbia & Montour Electric
Railway served the City of Bloomsburg beginning operations in 1901. It
was renamed North Branch Transit in 1913 and remained in service until
1926 when operations were discontinued in favor of buses.
Berwick & Nescopeck Street Railway: The Berwick &
Nescopeck Street Railway served the town of Berwick operating from 1910
to 1924 before streetcars were replaced by bus service.
Bradford & Kendall Passenger Railway: The Bradford
& Kendall Passenger Railway began operations in 1879 serving the
Bradford area. It was renamed the Bradford Electric Street Railway in
1896, again in 1906 as the Western New York & Pennsylvania
Traction Company and finally as the Olean Bradford & Salamanca
Railway Company in 1921. Streetcar service survived until 1927 when
buses took over.
Du Bois Traction Passenger Railway: The Du Bois Traction
Passenger Railway began operations in 1891 serving the City of Du Bois.
In 1897 the line was renamed the Du Bois Traction Company and was again
changed in 1902 as the Du Bois Electric & Traction Company.
Streetcar service lasted until 1926 when buses took over interurban
Gettysburg Electric Railroad: The Gettysburg Electric
Railroad served the famous Civil War town of Gettysburg beginning
operations in 1894. It was renamed the Gettysburg Transit Company in
1897 and again changed its name in 1909 as the Gettysburg Railway. It
was discontinued a short time later, a rather unsuccessful venture.
Indiana County Street Railway: The Indiana County Street
Railway served the town of Indiana beginning operations in 1907. It
remained in service until 1933 when streetcars were abandoned in favor
Lock Haven Electric Railway: The Lock Haven Electric
Railway served the town of Lock Haven beginning operations in 1894. A
year later it was renamed the Lock Haven Traction Company and again
changed its name in 1900 as the Susquehanna Traction Company. Streetcar
service survived until 1930 when operations were abandoned.
Meadville Traction Company: The Meadville Traction
Company served the town of Meadville from 1898 until its discontinuance
in 1927 when rail services were abandoned in favor of buses.
Harrisburg City Passenger Railway: The Harrisburg City Passenger Railway was the first interurban to serve the capital city dating
back to 1861 as a horse-powered operation. It remained in service for
thirty years before being renamed the East Harrisburg Passenger Railway
in 1891 and again changed its named as the Harrisburg Traction Company
in 1895. In 1903 the system once more changed hands as the Central
Pennsylvania Traction Company with its final reorganization in 1912 as
Harrisburg Railways, which provided streetcar service until 1939 when
buses replaced interurban lines.
Harrisburg & Mechanicsburg Electric Railway: The Harrisburg & Mechanicsburg Electric
Railway began operations in 1894 serving the area of Mechanicsburg. It
was renamed the Valley Traction Company in 1904 and again changed hands
in 1913 as Valley Railways. Streetcar service remained until buses
took over after 1938.
Lebanon & Annville Street Railway: The Lebanon &
Annville Street Railway began operations in 1891 serving the area of
Lebanon. It was renamed the Lebanon Valley Street Railway in 1899,
Reading Transit Company in 1910, Reading Transit & Light Company in
1913, Reading Transit Company in 1919 and finally the Reading Street
Railway Company in 1929. Streetcar service was discontinued a year
later in 1930.
Hershey Transit Company: The Hershey Transit Company was
created in 1913 through the merger of several smaller surrounding
systems. It operated a system that stretched roughly 32 miles and
remained in operation until 1955 when buses took over.
Southern Cambria Railway: The Southern Cambria Railway served the town of Jackson
and began operations in 1912. The line also connected the towns of
Nanty-Glo, Ebensburg and Johnstown. Operations survived until the 1920s
when they were abandoned in favor of buses.
Conestoga Transportation: Conestoga Transportation served
the Lancaster area and remained in operation until its discontinuance
in 1947. The operation began as the Conestoga Traction Company
connecting Lancaster with Millersville, Columbia, Marietta, Lititz,
Ephrata, Manheim, Strasburg, Adamstown, Rocky Springs, Terre Hill,
Quarry Hill, Elizabethtown and Coatesville. Interestingly, the line was
reopened due to the traffic rush of World War II and survived another
six years until its final closure in 1947.
Lehigh Valley Transit Company: The Lehigh Valley Transit
Company began operations at the turn of the 20th century and would
eventually connect the Upper Darby area of Philadelphia with Allentown
(it also reached Bethlehem and Easton) on a system that stretched 45
miles. It remained in service until 1951 when it suddenly discontinued
operations without warning.
Latrobe Street Railway: The Latrobe Street Railway served
the town of Latrobe beginning operations in 1900. In 1906 it was
renamed the West Penn Railways and operated streetcars until 1952 when
service was abandoned in favor of buses.
Northwestern Pennsylvania Railway: The Northwestern Pennsylvania
Railway began operations in 1911 taking over several smaller operations
which connected Erie, Cambridge Springs, Meadville, Conneaut Lake and
Linesville. In 1923 the system became part of the Northwestern Electric
Service Company and was discontinued in 1928.
Conneaut & Erie Traction Company: The Conneaut &
Erie Traction Company began operations in 1903 serving a 33-mile system
connecting its namesake cities. Unable to earn much in the way of
profits it fell into bankruptcy in 1907 and was renamed the Cleveland
& Erie Railway. It operated until 1920 when services were abandoned
and the system was sold for scrap.
Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railroad, "The Laurel Line":
Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railroad began operations in 1903
connecting Scranton to Wilkes-Barre on a system that stretched 19 miles.
The L&WV operated both interurban passenger and freight service,
the former being abandoned in 1952. Electric operation lasted a year
later until 1953 before it too was scrapped. Freight service survived
until 1976 when it was folded into a Conrail having been a subsidiary of
the Erie Lackawanna Railway (the railroad had been purchased by the
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in 1957).
Philadelphia & Easton Electric Railway: The
Philadelphia & Easton Electric Railway began operations in 1904
connecting Doylestown and Easton, suburbs of Philadelphia, on a 5.5 mile
system. It remained in operation until 1926 when operations were
replaced by buses.
New Jersey & Pennsylvania Traction Company: The New Jersey & Pennsylvania
Traction Company began operations in 1901 consolidating several smaller
lines. In all it served the communities of Bristol, Langhorne,
Newtown, Wycombe, Doylestown, Trenton, Yardley and Lambertville.
Passenger service ended in 1934 but then owner of the line, Reading
Railroad, continued operating freight trains on the line as far as
Eastern Pennsylvania Railway: The Eastern Pennsylvania
Railway was the creation of a merger by several smaller lines in 1906.
It connected Pottsville to Mauch Chunk on a 35-mile route that remained
in operation until 1931.
Ephrata & Lebanon Traction Company: The Ephrata &
Lebanon Traction Company began operations in 1915 connecting its
namesake towns. The E< fell into bankruptcy in 1923 and emerged as
the Lancaster, Ephrata & Lebanon Railway in 1925. Losses continued
to mount and operations were abandoned in 1931.
Valley Railways: Valley Railways dates back to the Valley Traction Company of 1903 which connected Harrisburg
with the west bank of the Susquehanna River. Later extensions reached
Carlisle, Marysville, White Hill and New Cumberland. The VT was a
rather unprofitable operation and was reorganized in 1913 as Valley
Railways. In 1922 the railroad was forced to repave city streets in
Carlisle but opted to abandon the route instead. All operations were
abandoned by 1938.
Jefferson County Traction Company: The Jefferson County
Traction Company served Big Run, Punxsutawney and Reynoldsville on a
system that stretched 35 miles beginning operations in 1902. It
remained in service until 1927 at which point operations were abandoned.
United Traction Street Railway: The United Traction
Street Railway began operations in 1906 serving Du Bois and Sykesville.
It remained in operation until its abandonment in 1928.
Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler & New Castle Railway: The Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler & New Castle Railway began operations in 1907 originally connecting Pittsburgh
and Butler. A year later the line was extended to Evans City, Butler
and New Castle. Streetcar service survive until 1931 when buses took
Scranton & Binghamton Traction Company: The Scranton &
Binghamton Traction Company began operations in 1908 connecting Scranton
and Montrose. It remained in service until 1931 when operations were
Warren & Jamestown Street Railway: The Warren
& Jamestown Street Railway connected its namesake cities beginning
operations in 1905. Service lasted only until 1929 when buses replaced
Wilkes-Barre & Hazelton Railway: The Wilkes-Barre
& Hazelton Railway began operations in 1903 connecting its namesake
cities. It remained in service for 30 years before buses took over for
streetcars after 1933.
Beaver Valley Traction Company: Beaver Valley Traction
Company began operations in 1908 connecting Leetsdale, Morado, Rochester
and Vanport. It remained in operation until 1937 when buses replaced
Centre & Clearfield Railway: The Centre &
Clearfield Railway began operations in 1903 connecting Philipsburg and
Winburne. It remained in service until 1927 when operations were
Corry & Columbus Street Railway: The Corry &
Columbus Street Railway began operations in 1906 connecting its namesake
towns. A rather unprofitable operation it was abandoned after 1924.
Johnstown & Somerset Railway: The Johnstown &
Somerset Railway was a shortlived interurban connecting Johnstown and
Jerome. It remained in operation between 1921 and 1933 before
Lancaster & York Furnace Railway: The Lancaster &
York Furnace Railway connected its namesake towns beginning operations
in 1903. Operations lasted until 1930 before being abandoned.
Northampton Traction Company: The Northampton Traction
Company connected Easton and Portland beginning operations in 1903.
Services survived until 1933 before operations were abandoned.
Northern Cambria Railway: The Northern Cambria Railway connected Patton and Barnsboro, operating streetcar service for 20 years between 1906 and 1926.
Pennsylvania & Maryland Street Railway: The Pennsylvania
& Maryland Street Railway began operations in 1908 connecting
Salisbury, Meyersdale and Garrett. The original line between Salisbury
and Meyersdale remained in service until 1927.
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company: The
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company began operations in 1899
connecting many areas of Philadelphia. Today it is operated by SEPTA
the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
Pittsburgh Railways: Pittsburgh Railways served the Pittsburgh
area connecting the city with Washington (Pennsylvania), Charleroi,
Black Diamond and Donora. Operations survived as late as 1952 before
being replaced by buses.
Schuylkill Railway: The Schuylkill Railway connected
Mahanoy City and Ashland operating between 1893 and 1931 before services
were replaced by buses.
South Fork-Portage Railway: The South Fork-Portage
Railway operated between South Fork and Summer Hill from 1913 to 1928
before operations were abandoned.
Slate Belt Electric Street Railway: The Slate Belt
Electric Street Railway served the towns of Nazareth and Bangor
beginning operations in 1899. Streetcar service remained until 1926
when operations were suspended.
Stroudsburg, Water Gap & Portland Railway: The
Stroudsburg, Water Gap & Portland Railway began operations in 1907
originally connecting Stroudsburg and Water Gap. In 1911 the line was
extended to Portland and the interurban remained in service until 1928
when operations were abandoned.
West Chester, Kennett & Wilmington Electric Railway:
The West Chester, Kennett & Wilmington Electric Railway connected
Wilmington to Kennett Square beginning operations in 1903 and lasted for
20 years before abandoning services in 1923.
York Railways: York Railways began operations in 1901
originally connecting York with Bittersville and Dover. It soon had
built branches reaching York Haven, Wrightsville and Hanover.
Operations survived until 1939 when buses replaced streetcars on the
final two lines still in service.
New Castle Electric Street Railway: The New Castle
Electric Street Railway served the town of New Castle beginning
operations in 1890. The operation was renamed several times over the
course of its life including the New Castle Traction Company (1897),
Mahoning & Shenango Valley Railway & Light Company (1906), Pennsylvania-Ohio Electric Company (1920), Pennsylvania-Ohio
Public Service Company (1929) and finally the New Castle Electric
Street Railway of 1930. After this final reorganization the system
lasted only until 1939 when operations were abandoned.
Citizens Traction Company: The Citizens Traction Company served Franklin and Oil City operating until 1928 when operations were discontinued.
Pottstown Passenger Railway: The Pottstown Passenger
Railway served the city of Pottstown beginning operations in 1890. It
was renamed the Pottstown & Reading Street Railway in 1905 and again
changed hands as the Pottstown & Phoenixville Railway in 1912. It
was changed back to the Pottstown Passenger Railway in 1922 and lasted
for another 15 years before abandoning streetcar operations in 1937.
Shamokin Street Railway: The Shamokin Street Railway
began operations in 1891 serving its namesake town. It was renamed the
Shamokin & Edgewood Electric Railway in 1900 and remained in service
until 1929 when streetcars were replaced by buses.
Shamokin & Mount Carmel Electric Railway: The
Shamokin & Mount Carmel Electric Railway served the town of Mount
Carmel beginning operations in 1894. It was renamed the Shamokin &
Mount Carmel Transit Company in 1906 and operated for another 30 years
until 1936 when bus service replaced streetcars.
Montgomery County Rapid Transit: The Montgomery County
Rapid Transit began operations in 1907 intending to connect Norristown
and Souderton. However, the interurban only ever reached Harleysville
and was never a very profitable operation, discontinuing service in June
Sunbury & Selinsgrove Railway: The Sunbury &
Selinsgrove Railway was a small operation serving its namesake towns
beginning operations in 1908. It remained in service until the late
1930s when operations were abandoned.
Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler & New Castle Railway: The
PHB&NC was another of Pittsburgh's numerous interurban systems. It
dates back to two predecessor lines, the Pittsburgh & Butler Street
Railway and the Harmony Route serving New Castle, Elwood City, Beaver
Falls, Morado, and Butler. Both systems were opened between 1907-1908
and combined in 1917 to form the Pittsburgh, Mars & Butler Railway.
The company went through several ownership changes in the 1920s until
finally being abandoned in favor of buses in 1931.
Chambersburg & Gettysburg Electric Railway: This
little interurban served Chambersburg and Caledonia Park, opening in
1903. It was intended to also link the historic town of Gettysburg but
was far too expensive due to the hilly terrain and was never completed.
It was purchased by the main line railroad, Cumberland Valley, in 1905
and electrified. Given the lightly populated area the company only
survived until late 1926.
Cumberland Railway: This company was created in 1908,
just after the end of the last major construction period and connected
Carlisle to Newville, a distance of 12 miles. Further expansions were
hoped for but never realized. It did acquire the nearby Carlisle &
Mount Holly but was abandoned early in 1920.
West Penn Railways: The West Penn Railways was a
consortium of interurbans located in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and
Ohio that was very large when combined, spanning 339 miles. The
earliest lines were built in 1889 and at its peak the company's
operations in Pennsylvania were located primarily southeast of
Pittsburgh serving towns such as Greensburg, Connellsville, Fairchance,
Irvin, Scottsdale, and Mt. Pleasant. The company slowly began to
cutback services in the late 1930s and also switched over to bus
operations. It was a long-lasting interurban and did not give up
services entirely until August, 1952.
Tarentum, Brackenridge & Butler Street Railway: The
Tarentum, Brackenridge & Butler Street Railway never reached its
ending point of Butler only connecting Tarentum, Brackenridge and the
small community of Birdville. It remained in service until its
abandonment in 1937.
Williamsport Railway: The Williamsport Railway, the
city's first, dates as far back as 1865 when it operated a short stretch
(about 1 mile) of horse-powered streetcar trackage in the city. In
1891 streetcar operations in Williamsport were electrified and a year
later six interurbans chartered to operate within the city. By the
early 1950s the city had lost all of its streetcar service.
Woodlawn & Southern Street Railway: The Woodlawn
& Southern Street Railway served the town of Aliquippa. It began
operations in 1912 and lasted until 1937 when buses replaced streetcar
service in the town.
Allentown & Reading Street Railway: The A&R dated back
to the Allentown & Kutztown Traction Company, which began operations
in 1902 on a 20-mile system that served its namesake towns. It was
renamed later that year as the Allentown & Reading when it took over
another operation that connected to Reading, a distance of 20 miles.
It remained in operation until 1934 when the Great Depression forced it
out of business.
Northampton Traction Company: Northampton Traction
began service in 1903 serving Easton and Bangor on a 22 mile system,
later building to Portland giving it an additional nine miles. It was
an early casualty and went bankrupt in 1919. It was reorganized as the
Northampton Transit Company, which purchased new equipment and operated
the line for another 10 years or so before finally abandoning in 1933.
Other notable Pennsylvania streetcar railways:
Carlisle & Mt. Holly Railway
Chester Traction Company
Dallas & Harvey Lake Railway
Easton & Nazareth Street Railway
Easton Transit Company
Erie Traction Company
Greensburg & Hempfield Electric Railway
Hestonville, Mantua & Fairmount Park Railroad
Homestead & Mifflin Street Railway
Irwin & Herminie Traction Company
Lewistown & Readsville Electric Railway
Magee Shortway Electric Railway
Monongahela Traction Company
Newtown, Langhorne & Bristol Trolley Street Railway
Oley Valley Railway
Pittsburgh-Butler Short Line
Slate Belt Street Railway
Southern Penn Traction Company
Sunbury & Northumberland Railway
Tamaqua & Lansford Street Railway
Tarentum, Brackenridge & Butler Street Railway
Waverly, Sayre & Athens Street Railway
Union Railroad of Providence: The Union Railroad of
Providence dates back to 1865 as a horse-powered operation serving the
Providence area. In 1894 the system was electrified and in 1921 it was
renamed United Electric Railways. Streetcar service was abandoned in 1948.
Pawtucket Street Railway: The Pawtucket Street Railway,
serving Pawtucket, began operations in 1885 and became part of United
Electric Railways in 1921. Streetcar service was abandoned in 1948.
Woonsocket Street Railway: The Woonsocket Street Railway
served Woonsocket beginning operations in 1887 and becoming part of
United Electric Railways in 1921. Streetcar service was discontinued in 1929.
Newport Street Railway: The Newport Street Railway began
operations in 1889 connecting the Newport area. It was renamed the
Newport & Fall River Street Railway in 1900 and again changed hands
in 1920 as the Newport Electric Corporation, which discontinued streetcar service in 1925.
Pawcatuck Valley Street Railway
Providence & Burrillville Street Railway
Rhode Island Company
Anderson Traction Company: The Anderson Traction
Company began operations in 1904 serving its namesake city. It was
renamed the Greenville, Spartanburg & Anderson Railway in 1909 and
again changed hands in 1924 as the Southern Public Utilities Company
before abandoning streetcar operations in 1934.
Spartanburg Railway Gas & Electric Company: The Spartanburg Railway Gas & Electric
Company served the Spartanburg area beginning operations in 1900. In
1912 it was renamed the South Carolina Light Power & Railway Company
and changed hands twice more (South Carolina Electric & Gas Company, 1912; Southern Public Utilities Company, 1928) before abandoning operations in 1935.
Columbia Street Railway
Mitchell Street & Interurban Railway: The Mitchell
Street & Interurban Railway began operations around the turn of the
century serving Mitchell operating a 7-mile system that was electrified
in 1913. The operation was never profitable and discontinued service
soon after electrification.
Sioux Falls Traction System: The Sioux Falls Traction
System served its namesake city beginning operations in 1908 and
abandoning service in 1930 in favor of buses.
Chattanooga Traction Company: The Chattanooga Traction Company served the Chattanooga
area from around the turn of the 20th century to 1940 at which time bus
operations, operated by the Southern Bus Company, replaced streetcars.
However, rail service continued until 1946 due to the war.
Memphis Street Railway: The Memphis Street Railway was
created in March of 1895 through the merger of several smaller systems
including the Memphis & Raleigh Springs Railroad, Easte End Street
Railway, Citizens Street Railroad and City & Suburban Railway. At
its peak the interurban operated nearly 77 miles of trackage, 51 one of
which was double-track. Service lasted until the 1940s when operations
were abandoned in favor of buses.
Chattanooga Railway & Light Company: The
& Light Company also serve Chattanooga beginning operations in 1909
from several smaller operations. It was purchased by the Tennessee
Electric Power Company in 1922 and streetcar service survived until 1940
when it was replaced by buses.
Knoxville Street Railway: The Knoxville Street Railway
was the first of many interurbans to serve the city beginning
operations in 1876 as a horse-powered operation. It was renamed the
Knoxville Traction Company in 1897 and again in 1904 as the Knoxville
Power & Light Company. The operation changed hands twice more as
the Tennessee Public Service Company in 1930 and again in 1938 as the
Knoxville Transit Lines before streetcars were discontinued in 1947 in
favor of buses.
Nashville-Franklin Railway: The Nashville-Franklin
Railway began operations in 1909 connecting its namesake cities. It
remained in service until 1943 when streetcars were replaced by buses
operated by the Franklin Interurban Bus Company.
Nashville-Gallatin Interurban Railway: The Nashville-Gallatin
Interurban Railway connected its namesake cities beginning operations
in 1913. Streetcar service survived until 1932 when the line was
Memphis & Lake Traction Company: The small M<
operated a 12-mile system that served Memphis and Lakeview, Mississippi.
It was first known as the Lakeview Traction Company and later became
the Memphis Street Railway Company. In 1913 it gained its final name as
the Memphis & Lake Traction. It was never very profitable and was
abandoned before the depression in 1928.
Other notable Tennessee interurbans:
Bristol Street Railway
Austin Rapid Transit Company: The Austin Rapid Transit
Company served the City of Austin beginning operations in 1890. In
1902 the railroad was renamed the Austin Electric Railway and again in
1911 as the Austin Street Railway. It remained in service until 1945
when operations were suspended in favor of buses.
Amarillo Street Railway: The Amarillo Street Railway was chartered in 1906 and began operations on January 1, 1908. It was designed to promote a local real estate venture and eventually grew to a length of 9 miles. Never a particularly successful line the system was sold at a sheriff's sale on September 14, 1917 to G. Gordon Brownell who immediately ended service a month later on October 19th. The city purchased the property and restarted operations on July 5, 1920 but with perennial losses afflicting the company it made its final run on September 1, 1923 and the rails were later sold for scrap.
Amarillo Traction Company: Another streetcar operation in the city of Amarillo was the Amarillo Traction Company was formed in 1909 by N.A. Brown for the purpose of connecting the city with the San Jacinto Heights area. Service began on June 23, 1911 and the system originally used gasoline-powered rail cars but upgraded the line with electrified, overhead trolley wire in 1913. As was so often the case with such operations it could never turn a profit and shutdown in 1920. The city re-initiated service in January of 1923 but this arrangement lasted only until January of 1924 when operations were suspended indefinitely. After some debate it was decided to replace the trolleys with buses.
Beaumont Traction Company: The Beaumont Traction Company
served the city of Beaumont beginning operations in 1909. In 1918 the
system was purchased by the Eastern Texas Electric Company and streetcar
service remained until 1937 when buses replaced railrpad operations.
Port Arthur Traction Company: The Port Arthur Traction
Company served the city of Port Aurthur beginning operations in 1910.
In 1918 it was purchased by the Eastern Texas Electric Company and
operated until 1937 when sold to National City Lines and streetcar
operations were abandoned in favor of buses.
Texas Electric Railway: The Texas Electric was formed
through two predecessor roads; the Texas Traction Company and the
Southern Traction Company. These two interurbans were built between
1908 and 1912 and served north, south, and west of Dallas connecting to
Denison, Terrell, Hillsboro, Waco, and Corsicana. The two merged in
1916 to form the Texas Electric Railway. From the beginning both lines
were quite profitable and moved a large amount of passenger traffic
thanks to the large population area they served along with interchanges
to Northern Texas Traction Company and Texas Interurban Railway that
gave it interchange connections to Denton and Fort Worth. The company
was very late in developing freight services,
not until the late 1920s, but once it did earned substantial profits
from the operation with friendly interchanges to neighboring railroads.
During World War II it grossed
more than $2 million annually although it it quickly declined after the
war. By 1948 the entire system was abandoned.
Corpus Christi Improvement Company: The oddly named
Corpus Christi Improvement Company began operations in 1890 serving its
namesake city. It was renamed the Corpus Christi Street & Interurban
Railway in 1910 and again changed hands in 1925 as the Nueces Railway
Company. Streetcar services survived until 1934 when buses replaced rail operations.
El Paso Electric Company: The El Paso ElectricCompany
began operations in 1901 taking over from several smaller interurban
operations in the city. In 1943 it was renamed the El Paso City Lines
and streetcars lasted all of the way until 1977 before finally being
Texas Interurban Railway: As mentioned above, the Texas Interurban was one of the final
interurbans ever built when it opened to the public in January, 1923
serving Dallas and Terrell on a 33 mile system. It somewhat paralleled
the Texas Electric as it also operated a line to Denison beginning in
1924, thanks to trackage rights over the Katy system. It was never very
profitable thanks to the TE already entrenched in the region and was
abandoned in just 1931.
Laredo Electric & Railway: The Laredo Electric &
Railway began operations in 1892 taking over from several smaller lines.
It was renamed the Central Power & Light Company in 1930 and
streetcar service survived a few years longer until 1934.
Citizens Railway: The Citizens Railway served the Waco
area and began operations in 1877. The railroad was renamed three more
times during its existence including the Southern Traction Company in
1913, Texas Electric Railway in 1917 and finally as the Waco Transit
Company in 1946. Streetcar service survived a few years longer until
1948 when buses replaced railroad operations.
Witchita Falls Traction Company: The Witchita Falls Traction
Company began operations in 1909 serving its namesake city. Streetcar
service lasted until 1935 when buses replaced railroad operations.
Bryan & College Interurban Railway: The Bryan &
College Interurban Railway began operations in 1910 serving Bryan and
College Station on a seven mile railroad system. It was sold in 1923
and renamed the Bryan-College Traction Company which operated the line
until 1930 when operations were abandoned.
Dallas Consolidated Electric Street Railway: The Dallas
Consolidated Electric Street Railway began operations in 1898 serving
the Dallas area. It was purchased by the Dallas Electric
Corporation in 1902 and again changed hands in 1925 as the Dallas
Railway & Terminal Company. In 1955 the operation became the Dallas
Transit Company and operated for one more year before discontinuing
Fort Worth Street Railway: The Fort Worth Street Railway
dates back to 1874 as a horse-powered streetcar operation. It was
renamed the Northern Texas Electric
Company in 1902 and again changed hands in 1938 as the Fort Worth
Transit Company. Streetcar service survived until 1939 when buses took
over transit operations.
Texas Traction Company: The Texas Traction Company served
the town of McKinney beginning operations in 1907. In 1917 it was
renamed the Texas Electric Railway and streetcar service survived until
Lake Park Street Railway: The Lake Park Street Railway
began operations in 1887 serving the town of Waxahatchie. In 1891 it
was renamed the Waxahachie Street Railway and again changed hands in
1912 as the Southern Traction Company before being purchased by the
Texas Electric Railway in 1917. Streetcar operations were discontinued
Houston North Shore Railway: From a technical standpoint this interurban was the final
such company ever chartered in the country. It did begin service until
1927 when the industry, in general, was in severe decline. It served
Houston, Highlands, Goose Creek, and Baytown on a system that stretched
34 miles. From a planning standpoint it was very well conceived and
served more as a standard railroad with the significant freight traffic
it was able to build, despite being electrically operated. Not long
after it was built it was purchased by the Missouri Pacific and became a permanent part of the company.
Eastern Texas Electric Company: Another lately
constructed interurban, the Eastern Texas began service in 1913 serving
Port Aurthur and Beaumont on a 20 mile system. It served a highly
populated area and also was able to derive considerable earnings from
carload freight. Unfortunately, it was not allowed to continue building
new freight feeder lines and was forced to abandon in 1935.
Roby & Northern Railroad: The R&N was a very
small operation, operating a four-mile line serving the town of Roby
with the Katy at Roby Junction. Partly due to its small size it was
operated for a very long time between 1915 and 1941 before ending
Southwestern Traction Company: The Southwestern Traction
Company served Belton and Temple on a 15-mile system that began in 1905.
It attempted to expand but never had the funds to do so. Abandonment
came in 1923.
Rio Grande Valley Traction Company: A medium-sized
interurban that served West Texas and the towns of El Paso and Isleta,
about 13 miles. It began operations in 1913 and at its peak operated
about 40 miles of track. Service was suspended by 1932.
San Antonio Traction Company: The San Antonio Traction
Company was formed in 1900 by several smaller railroad systems. At its
peak the interurban served downtown San Antonio and the suburbs of
Beacon Hill, Denver Heights, and Alamo Heights. Operations survived
until 1933 when buses replaced railroad services.
Northern Texas Traction Company: The Northern Texas began
operation in June, 1902 serving the large cities of Fort Worth and
Dallas on a 35-mile system that was immediately profitable thanks to the
region it served. Additionally, thanks to interchanges with the later
Texas Electric, the company derived additional traffic from folks
traveling to Waco, Denison, and other nearby towns. At its peak nearly
half of the main line was double tracked and featured trains running on a
half-hour basis. Unfortunately, it was never able to develop much
freight business and lost substantial traffic during the 1920s. As
such, by 1934 the system was out of business.
Tarrant County Traction Company: This operation began service in
late 1912, as the Fort Worth Southern Traction Company, serving Fort
Worth and Cleburne to the south on a 31 mile system. It failed two
years later and was purchased by the Northern Texas Traction which
renamed it as the Tarrant County Traction. It had difficulty earning
much revenues, despite a well-engineered route, and was abandoned by
Galveston-Houston Electric Railway: This company began
operations in 1911 serving its namesake cities on a system that covered
50 miles. Very well built with little competition from other
interurbans or railroads in terms of the services provided it prospered.
Strangely, it weathered the Great Depression as well as could be
expected and was still earning a profit but decided to abandon
operations in 1936 in favor of buses as revenues were declining.
Other notable Texas interurbans:
Bonham Railway, Power & Light
Brownsville Street & Interurban Railway
Corsicana Traction Company
Dallas Interurban Terminal
Galveston Electric Company (Operated streetcars in Galveston until 1938.)
Houston Electric Company
Roby Northern Railroad
Southwestern Gas & Electric Company (Purchased by the Middle
West Utilities Company in 1925 and discontinued railroad services ten
Thanks to Robert Carter for help with the information on this section.
Bamberger Electric Railroad: The Bamberger Electric
Railroad (originally known as the Salt Lake & Ogden Railway, but
changed its name in 1917) began operations in 1908 although the system
dated back to the Great Salt Lake & Hot Springs Railway of the
1890s. At its peak the system connected Ogden and Salt Lake City
line that was built to very high standards. It was electrified soon
after its 1908 opening and carried heavy freight and passenger traffic
during its early years. The depression
was unkind to the system and it fell into bankruptcy in 1933 emerging
as the Bamberger Railroad in 1939. In 1957 the system was sold to
investors, which sold portions of the line to Union Pacific and Denver
& Rio Grande Western in 1958.
Utah-Idaho Central Railroad: The Utah-Idaho Central Railroad dates back to the Ogden Rapid Transit
Company of 1900. At its peak this system would operate 95 miles of
railroad between Ogden, Utah and Preston, Idaho. The Utah-Idaho Central
Railroad began operations in 1918 and operated until February of 1947
when operations were abandoned.
Ogden Rapid Transit Company:
The Ogden Rapid Transit Company began operations in 1900 taking over
that of the Ogden Electric Railway. The system became part of the
Utah-Idaho Central Railroad in 1918.
Salt Lake, Garfield & Western Railway
Barre & Montpelier Street Railway: The Barre &
Montpelier Street Railway began operations in June of 1889 connecting
downtown Montpelier with the nearby town of Barre. In 1919 the system
was renamed the Barre & Montpelier Traction & Power Company and
remained in operation until the late 1920s when rail service was
replaced by buses.
Rutland Street Railway: The Rutland Street Railway began
operations in 1872 using horses for power. It was renamed the Rutland
Railway Light & Power Company in 1906 and remained in service until
1924 when buses replaced railroad operations.
Springfield Terminal Railway:
The Springfield Terminal Railway connected Charlestown, New Hampshire
with Springfield, Vermont
on an eight-mile railroad system and for many years was a subsidiary of
the Boston & Maine. Passenger service survived until
1947 and freight remained powered by electric
motors until October of 1956. After this it normally used a former
Sacramento Northern 44-tonner for freight service, continuing to operate
until the 1980s.
St. Albans Street Railway: The St. Albans Street
Railway served the town of St. Albans beginning operations in 1904. In
1912 it was renamed the St. Albans & Swanton Traction Company. The
interurban was never a very profitable operation and abandoned services
Mount Mansfield Electric Railroad: The Mount Mansfield Electric
Railroad began operations in 1897 connecting Waterbury and Stowe on a
12-mile railroad system. It abandoned operations in 1932 and today much
of the right-of-way is Vermont State Route 100.
Winooski & Burlington Horse Railroad: The Winooski
& Burlington Horse Railroad began operations in 1872 serving the
city of Burlington. It was renamed the Burlington Traction Company in
1893 and again changed names in 1928 as the Burlington Rapid Transit
Company. Services were abandoned a year later.
Other notable Vermont interurban railroads:
Bellows Falls & Saxton River Street Railway
Bennington & Woodford Electric Railway
Brattleboro Street Railroad (Operated between Brattleboro and West Brattleboro.)
Hoosick Falls Street Railway
Arlington & Fairfax Electric Railway: The Arlington & Fairfax Electric
Railway began operations in 1891 connecting its namesake towns.
Streetcar operations survived until 1937 when buses replaced railroad
Washington, Alexandria & Mount Vernon Electric Railway: The Washington, Alexandria & Mount Vernon Electric
Railway served the Alexandria area beginning operations in 1892. It was
renamed the Alexandria, Barcroft & Washington Transit Company in
1921 and discontinued streetcar railroad operations in 1932.
Charlottesville & University Street Railway: The
Charlottesville & University Street Railway served the City of
Charlottesville and Virginia University. It began operations in 1887 on
a five-mile railroad system and was renamed the Charlottesville &
Albemarle Railway in 1903. Streetcar operations survived until 1935.
Danville Street Car Company: The Danville Street Car
Company began operations in 1886 serving its namesake city. It was
renamed the Danville Railway & Electric Company in 1900 and again
changed hands in 1911 as the Danville Traction & Power Company.
Streetcar operations survived until 1938.
Lynchburg Street Railway Company: The Lynchburg Street
Company began operations in 1891 serving its namesake city. It was
renamed a number of times during its existence including as the
Lynchburg Electric Railway & Light Company (1898) and Lynchburg
Traction & Light Company (1901). Streetcar services survived until
Norfolk City Railway: The Norfolk City Railway was the first of many interurban railroads
to serve the port city, dating back to 1866 as a horse-powered
operation. It was renamed the Norfolk Street Railroad in 1894, again in
1899 as the Norfolk Railway & Light Company, again in 1902 as the
Norfolk & Portsmouth Traction Company, and finally in 1911 as the
Virginia Railway & Power Company. Streetcar service survived until
the mid-1940s when buses replaced railroad operations.
Newport News, Hampton & Old Point Railway:
The Newport News, Hampton & Old Point Railway served the Newport
News area beginning operation in 1891. It was renamed three more times
during operations as the Newport News & Old Point Railway &
Electric Company (1898), Newport News & Hampton Railway Gas &
Electric Company (1914) and finally as the Citizens Rapid Transit
Company in 1925. Streetcar service survived until 1945.
Richmond Railway: The Richmond Railway is one of the
oldest interurbans to ever operate in the country dating
back to 1860 and operations were actually suspended during the Civil
War. In 1881 it was renamed the Richmond City Railway Company and
changed hands several more times during streetcar service (Richmond
Passenger & Power Company, 1900; Virginia Passenger & Power
Company, 1901; Virginia Railway & Power Company, 1909; Virginia
Electric & Power Company, 1925; and finally in 1944 as the Virginia
Transit Company). Streetcar service survived until 1949.
Petersburg Electric Railway: The Petersburg Electric
Railway began operations in 1896 taking over from several smaller
operations serving Petersburg. This operation did not last long as it
was renamed the South Side Railway & Development Company in the same
year. In 1901 it was renamed the Virginia Passenger & Power
Company, again in 1909 as the Virginia Railway & Power Company and
finally in 1925 as the Virginia Electric & Power Company. Streetcar service remained until 1936.
Roanoke Street Railway: The Roanoke Street Railway began
operations in 1887 serving its namesake city. It was renamed the
Roanoke Railway & Electric Company in 1901 and carried on streetcar
operations until 1940 when services were abandoned.
Virginia Electric Power Company:
The Virginia Electric
Power Company was actually a conglomeration of street railway systems
in Richmond and Norfolk was as an interurban line serving Petersburg and
Richmond. It was a well maintained electric operation, partly due to
its power plant subsidiary. Operations continued through 1936 until it
was finally discontinued.
Bristol Traction Company: The small Bristol Traction
was actually a narrow-gauge steam line that operated part of its route
as an interurban system between 1912 and 1918 connecting Bristol and Big
Richmond & Chesapeake Bay Railway: The R&CB began
operations in October, 1907 serving Richmond and Ashland on a 15-mile
system. It never reached the Chesapeake Bay and the original system
only survived into 1918. It was reorganized as the Richmond-Ashland
Railway and survived until 1938 when it was finally abandoned.
Other notable Virginia interurbans:
Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway
Bristol Street Car Company
Norfolk & Atlantic Terminal Company
Norfolk & Ocean View Railway
Roanoke Railway & Light Company
Shenandoah Traction Company
Seattle Electric Company: The Seattle Electric
Company took over the operations of several smaller interurban
railroads in 1900 that served the port city. In 1919 the operation was
renamed the Seattle Municipal Railway and again changed hands in 1939 as
the Seattle Transit System. Streetcars survived another two years
Everett Railway & Electric Company: The Everett Railway & Electric
Company began operations in 1893 serving its namesake city. It was
renamed three times during operations including as the Everett Railway
Light & Water Company in 1905, Puget Sound International
Railway & Power Company in 1907 and finally the Puget Sound Power
& Light Company in 1930. Streetcar operations were discontinued in
Tacoma Railway & Power Company: The Tacoma Railway
& Power Company began operations in 1899 taking over for a number of
smaller companies serving Tacoma. Its name was unchanged during its
operations until services were suspended in 1935.
West Side Railway: The West Side Railway began operations
in 1891 serving Olympia. It was renamed the Olympia Light & Power
Company in 1894 and again in 1923 as the Puget Sound Power & Light
Company. Streetcar operations were discontinued in 1930.
Skagit River Railway: The Skagit River Railway was never
really a true interurban but did carry out electrified railroad
operations. It began life in 1920 as a temporary system managed by
Seattle City Light in the construction of hydro-electric dams on the
Skagit River. The railroad outlived its temporary status operating
until 1954 before being abandoned.
Puget Sound Electric Railway: The Puget Sound Electric Railway began operations in September of 1902 connecting areas of Tacoma and Seattle
serving such communities as Milton, Tukwila, Fife, Pacific, Jovita,
Algona, Auburn, Kent, Orillia, and Renton. The interurban operated
until 1928 when streetcar service was abandoned in favor of buses.
Spokane, Coeur D'Alene & Palouse Railway:
The Spokane, Coeur D'Alene & Palouse Railway connected Spokane
and Coeur D'Alene on a 32-mile system beginning operations in late
December of 1903. It operated on a 600-volt DC system and in 1907 built
a branch to Liberty Lake. A few
years later it extended its reach to Vera. The railroad survived until
1939 when passenger operations were abandoned. Freight service
survived until 1960 although in 1943 the system had become part of the
Great Northern Railway.
Washington Water Power Company: The Washington Water
Power Company began operations in 1905 connecting Spokane with Medical
Lake on a system that stretched 17 miles. Operations were abandoned in
Yakima Valley Transportation Company: The Yakima Valley
Transportation Company began operations in 1907 originally connecting
Yakima on a three-mile streetcar system. In 1909 it became part of the
Union Pacific and was initially expanded between Ahtanum and Wiley City
by 1910. Later in 1912 services were further expanded and reached
Selah. Passenger service was entirely abandoned in 1947 although freight service
survived until 1985 by Union Pacific. Also, of note, a tourist trolley
operation began in 1974 thus reviving passenger service which remains
to this day (which was eventually donated by UP to the City of Yakima in
Walla Walla Valley Railway: The Walla Walla
Valley Railway (initially known as the Walla Walla Traction Company)
connected Walla Walla
with Milton-Freewater, Oregon on a 14-mile railroad that began
operations in April of 1907. Northern Pacific Railway purchased the
property in 1921 and ten years later passenger operations were
discontinued. Electric service ended in 1950 and by the 1980s
then-owner Burlington Northern abandoned what remaining freight
Pacific Northwest Traction Company: The Pacific Northwest Traction Company began operations in 1909 and would eventually connect Seattle,
Everett, Mt. Vernon, Snohomish, and Bellingham on a system that reached
62 total miles (the state's largest single interurban railroad). While
the PNT had healthy freight earnings to supplement passenger revenue it lasted no longer until the mid-1920s.
Tacoma & Steilacoom Railway: The Tacoma &
Steilacoom Railway began operations in 1891 connecting its namesake
cities. Soon after it was purchased by the Tacoma Railway & Motor
Company and operations lasted only until 1916 before being abandoned.
Seattle, Renton & Southern Railway: The Seattle,
Renton & Southern Railway began operations in the 1890s connecting
Seattle and Renton. It was reorganized in 1916 as the Seattle &
Rainer Valley Railway and operations continued for another 21 years before being abandoned in 1937.
Fidalgo City & Anacortes Railway: The Fidalgo City
& Anacortes Railway began operations in March of 1891 connecting its
namesake cities on an 11-mile interurban railroad. A horribly planned
system it operated only a few years before being abandoned in 1893.
Vancouver Traction Company: The Vancouver Traction
Company began operations in 1910 connecting Vancouver with Orchards and
Sifton on a 7-mile railroad that was abandoned in 1925.
Twin City Railroad: The Twin City Railroad was owned by Puget
Sound Power & Light Company and connected Chehalis and Centralia
beginning operations in 1910. Passenger operations were abandoned in
1929 and freight followed seven years later in 1936.
Grays Harbor Railway & Light Company: The Grays
Harbor Railway & Light Company began operations in 1904 connecting
Hoquiam, Cosmopolis and Aberdeen on a 9-mile railroad. Passenger
operations were abandoned in 1932 with freight services lasting until 1941.
Willapa Electric Company: The Willapa Electric Company,
originally known as the Willapa Harbor Railway, operated a six-mile
which connected South Bend, Raymond and Grays Harbor. All operations
were abandoned in 1930.
Tri-City Traction Company: The Tri-City Traction
Company (owned by Princeton Power Company) connected Princeton and
Bluefield beginning operations in 1916 on a 12-mile railroad. It
operated until 1946 when railroad services were abandoned in favor of
Wellsburg, Bethany & Washington Railroad: The
WB&W began operations in June, 1908 serving the hamlet of Bethany
with Wellsburg in the state's Northern Panhandle on a line that was juts
under eight miles in length. It was meant to reach Washington,
Pennsylvania but the expense of construction never allowed such. Operations lasted until 1926.
Charleston Interurban Railroad: The Charleston Interurban
Railroad began operations in 1912 and would eventually connect downtown
Charleston, St. Albans and Cabin Creek Junction (a connection with the
Chesapeake & Ohio Railway). In 1935 it was purchased by the
Charleston Transit Company and rail services were abandoned in 1939.
City & Elm Grove Railroad: The City & Elm Grove
Railroad dates back to 1877 as a traditional steam line but was
electrified in 1898. It operated a 13-mile railroad serving the
Wheeling and was never very profitable with the final segments of the
route abandoned by 1937.
Union Traction Company of West Virginia: The Union
Traction Company of West Virginia dates back to the Wetzel & Tyler
Railway of 1903 which served the small town of Sistersville on the Ohio
It operated an 11-mile railroad that became the UTC in 1908 and was
succeeded by the Sisterville & New Martinsville Traction Company in
1919. Never very profitable the operation ended service by 1925.
Parkersburg & Ohio Valley Electric Company: The
Parkersburg & Ohio Valley Electric Company was chartered in 1903
and was planned to connect Parkersburg and Wheeling following the Ohio
River the entire way. The interurban began construction
about at the half-way point of Sistersville building south.
Unfortunately, it only reached as far south as Friendly about five
miles, a town no larger than a few hundred residents. With no hope of
attracting much ridership it was abandoned by 1918.
Tyler Traction Company: The Tyler Traction Company was
another interurban to serve the town of Sistersville beginning
operations in 1913 connecting with Middlebourne, a town to the east. It
provided some freight and passenger service but with the population
centers so small not enough to sustain the system. It was abandoned by
Lewisburg & Ronceverte Railway: The Lewisburg &
Ronceverte Railway was charted in 1906 and would connect its namesake
towns on about a 6-mile railroad (which connected with the C&O at
Ronceverte). It fell into bankruptcy several times and was abandoned by 1931.
Ohio Valley Electric Railway: The Ohio Valley Electric
Railway began operations in 1900 connecting Huntington, Ashland
(Kentucky) and Ironton (Ohio). It remained in service until 1939 when
operations were abandoned.
Morgantown & Dunkard Railway: The Morgantown &
Dunkard Railway was chartered at the beginning of the 20th century meant
to connecting Morgantown and Wheeling. However, it only ever made it
as far as Brave, Pennsylvania and was only able to actually electrify a
few miles of railroad (the rest of which was handled by steam
locomotives). It was renamed the Morgantown-Wheeling Railway in 1912
and again changed hands in 1923 as the Scotts Run Railway. It later
became part of the Monongahela Railway and the line is said to still be
used for freight service today.
Monongahela West Penn Public Service Company: The largest interurban in the state this company began operations as the Fairmont & Clarksburg Electric
Railroad Company. The line was able to connect to the cities by 1908
on a 25-mile system. It was later renamed as the Monongahela Valley
Traction Company and by 1913 had reached such areas as Weston, Wolf
Summit, Wyatt, Fairview, and Mannington. The interurban provided both
street services as well as main line running on a surprisingly
well-built system that was even able to enter into some interchange
agreements with the B&O providing for a bit of carload freight
revenue. In 1921 it was renamed as the Monongahela Power & Railway
Company as the operation had expanded into the power business.
years later in 1923 it came under West Penn control and was known as the
subsidiary, Monongahela West Penn Public Service Company. West Penn
operated interurbans in southern Pennsylvania, throughout West
Virginia, and into eastern Ohio. As with the Kanawha Traction & Electric
Company the Monongahela West Penn was sold to the City Lines of West
Virginia around 1945, which slowly converted the entire system to bus
operations by 1947.
Kanawha Traction & Electric Company: The Kanawha Traction & Electric Company served Parkersburg, West Virginia and Marietta, Ohio via a rail/highway
bridge at Williamstown, West Virginia. It began operations as the
Parkersburg, Marietta & Interurban Traction Company being renamed
the Kanawha Traction & Electric in 1915. In 1923 this operation
became part of the expansive Monongahela-West Penn Public Service
Company, which had operations in western West Virginia around
Parkersburg and north-central West Virginia around Fairmont. In 1943 the
company sold off the Parkersburg-Marietta division with it being
renamed the City Lines of West Virginia.
The operation lasted only a few years after the war and was
subsequently abandoned (today the rails remain in the historic brick
streets in downton Marietta).
Wheeling Traction Company: The Wheeling Traction Company provided interurban operations to the one-time major commercial hub of Wheeling, West Virginia.
It was renamed a number of times during operations (Wheeling Street
Railway, Wheeling Public Service Company and Panhandle Traction Company)
lasting until the 1940s as a wholly-employee owned interurban known as
the Cooperative Transit Company.
Other notable West Virginia interurbans:
Bluefield & Hinton Electric Railway
Wheeling Street Railway
Eastern Wisconsin Electric Company: The Eastern Wisconsin Electric
Company began operations in 1917 through the merger of the Sheboygan
Light, Power & Railway; Fond Du Lac & Oshkosh Railway; and the
Winnebago Traction Company. Together these interurban railroads served
Shegoygan, Plymouth, Elkhart Lake, Fond Du Lac, Oshkosh and Neenah.
Streetcar operations survived until 1927 when buses replaced rail
Wisconsin Traction, Light, Heat & Power Company: The
Wisconsin Traction, Light, Heat & Power Company began operations in
1900 through the acquisition of the Fox River Valley Electric Company and Appleton Electric Light
& Power Company. The interurban operations served Neenah,
Appleton, and Kaukauna. It was renamed Wisconsin-Michigan Power Company
in 1927 and a year later interurban services ended.
Wisconsin Public Service Company: The Wisconsin Public
Service Company began operations in 1911 connecting Kaukauna and Green
Bay. Most notable is the subsidiary, Green Bay Traction which served
many parts of the port city on a 23-mile railroad. Streetcar operations
survived until 1928 when buses replaced rail service.
The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company: The Milwaukee Electric became so successful thanks in part to its strong financial
backing by the North American Company. The earliest history of the
line dated back to a local Milwaukee street railway system of 1890 that
originally used horse power. North American acquired this line and soon
after incorporated the Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company
or also known as the TREM. It had built up a 100+ mile system in just
over 10 years. When construction had completed in 1909 it reached
Kenosha (and a connection with the North Shore Line), Burlington, East
Troy, Waukesha, Watertown, Port Washington, and Sheboygan where it also
connected with the Wisconsin Power & Light Company.
While building had ended before 1910 the TREM spent the next decade or
so upgrading its routes by double (or even triple) tracking some lines
and eliminating street-running to improve operating times (it spent more
than $6 million to do this, an astronomical sum for most interurbans).
In 1928 it reached its final length when it acquired the nearby
Milwaukee Northern Railway Company. The company did well to weather the Great Depression,
much better than most lines, but its downfall began around this time.
Through the 1930s it slowly began to cut back services and during the
1940s its routes were either sold to bus lines or outright abandoned.
By 1945 the original Milwaukee Electric was no more although its lines
carried on under different owners for a few years. A small five-mile
section of its southern network remained in use for freight operations
through the 1960s.
Manitowoc & Northern Traction Company: The Manitowoc
& Northern Traction Company began operations in 1902 connecting
Manitowoc and Two Rivers on an 8-mile railroad. It came under different
ownership twice first by the Wisconsin-Minnesota Light & Power
Company and later by the Wisconsin Public Service Company. Streetcar
operations ended in 1926.
Northern States Power Company: The Northern States Power
Company of 1923 (which purchased the property), originally known as the
Chippewa Valley Light Railway & Power Company incorporated in 1898,
connected Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire on a 14-mile railroad.
Streetcar service was abandoned in 1926.
Wisconsin Valley Electric Railway: The Wisconsin Valley Electric
Railway began operations in 1909 connecting Wausau and Schofield on a
9-mile railroad. Interurban service was abandoned by 1926.
Bay View Street Railway: The Bay View Street Railway,
opened in 1909, served a 1 1/2-mile system connecting northeast Green
Bay with an amusement park. The railroad would become part of the Green
Bay Traction Company.
Wisconsin Power & Light Company: This interurban was created
through the merger of several smaller lines that served Sheboygan,
Plymouth, and Elkhart Lake dating back to the Sheboygan Light Power
& Railway of the 1890s. The WP&L would become another Insull
property and was able to build a bit of carload freight business, which
it interchanged with the Milwaukee Road. In 1924 the WP&L gained
ownership of the Wisconsin Power Company properties, unconnected lines
that reached Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Omro, Neenah, Menasha, and Appleton
all near Lake Winnebago. These routes dated to between 1899 and 1903
and were originally known as Winnebago Traction. Much of its passenger
services were gone by 1929 although part of its line remained in use for
freight traffic until 1939.
Douglas County Street Railway: The Douglas County
Street Railway was a little operation that began in 1892 soon after
becoming the Superior Rapid Transit Railway. It became part of the
Duluth Street Railway in August of 1900.
Other notable Wisconsin interurban railroads:
Beloit Traction Company
Chippewa Valley Electric Railway
Fort Howard Electric Railway (Served the area now known as Green
Bay, beginning operations in 1894 and becoming part of the Green Bay
Sheridan Interurban Railway
Thanks to Ken Johnsen and Yakima Valley Trolleys for help with the information on this page.
The last surviving interurban still operating electrically, Iowa Traction's Baldwin-Westinghouse #60 totes a single gondola through Emery, Iowa on August 6, 2003.
However, the more common form of trolleys in use today are known as light rail transit, or LRT, routes. Using LRVs (light rail vehicles) or some other new motorcar powered by overhead catenary or third-rail
these systems are becoming increasingly popular due to the reason
mentioned above. LRTs are not true commuter railroads, like the Long Island Rail Road, Metrolink or New Jersey Transit as they do not operate traditional locomotives and commuter cars, only light motorcars (sometimes with coaches) hence the term "light rail". For more reading on commuter lines, please click here. It's rather interesting that the classic trolley is making a comeback. Aside from wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the highway we apparently just like trolleys. As one regional transportation authority has noted: "There is no real reason why folks like steel rails over rubber tires but they do, it is a simple fact of life."