Last revised: March 27, 2023
By: Adam Burns
Interurbans, and their suburban counterparts (the streetcar), were once common throughout the country. They served both large cities, such as St. Louis, and rural communities, like Beverly, Ohio. In retrospect, the financial interests behind these traction railroads were largely misplaced.
The mania began during the late 19th century and spilled over into the early 1900's as thousands of miles were laid down from New England to California.
Much of the trackage was situated east of the Mississippi River as the interurban offered flexibility and affordability for the everyday commuter.
It is rather amazing so much capital was expended on these operations, which struggled to make a profit right from the start.
A few, such as the Illinois Terminal and Piedmont & Northern, bucked this trend and blossomed into successful freight carriers while the Pacific Electric Railway is regarded as the greatest of all interurbans.
Most were out of the business by World War II and only one still operates today, the Iowa Traction Railway (others have shed their "interurban" status and now operate as short line freight carriers).
Ironically, the commuter services inteurbans provided are actually making a comeback as LRT (light rail transit) systems as cities look for alternatives to increasingly crowded highways.
What became the classic interurban all began in the 1870's with two key developments; in 1870 Zenobe Gramme unveiled a generator for commercial use while Werner von Siemens showcased the world's first electric locomotive at an exhibition in Berlin, Germany during 1879.
As these technologies found their way to the United States the first examples appeared in the 1880's; in 1880 Thomas Edison tested an experimental electric locomotive, powered by a dynamo, which was operated on a stretch of track in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
As Dr. George Hilton and John Due's authoritative piece, "The Electric Interurban Railways In America," points out the birth of the true American interurban began when Frank Sprague developed an electric motorcar in 1886 for the New York Elevated Railway whereby the motor(s) were situated between the axle, along with a trolley pole and multiple-unit control stand.
This gave way to the typical streetcar which became such a common sight throughout America. Sprague failed to interest the New York Elevated but others were impressed.
He eventually secured a contract in May of 1887 with the Richmond Union Passenger Railway in Virginia to provide cars for its operation. It opened on February 2, 1888 and proved successful.
Another important developer was Sidney Howe Short who invented a double-reduction, gearless motor and also learned that overhead catenary was the best means for electrical pickup. Short conceived another important development, the contact "shoe."
By the time main line electrified systems were introduced in 1895, when the Baltimore & Ohio energized 4 miles of its Baltimore trackage (including the 1.4-mile Howard Street Tunnel), the technology was quite advanced.
- According to the railroad's "Official List No. 29" issued January 1, 1948 the entire Belt Line ran from Milepost 90.7 at Bay View, Maryland to Milepost 97.9 at Hamburg Street, Baltimore. -
There were three great periods of interurban development; the first occurred during the 1890's and then reached a great flurry of construction between 1901 and 1904 when more than 5,000 miles were laid down.
The Panic of 1903 ended this fervor but it reignited again between 1905 and 1908 when another 4,000 miles were built.
Once more, a financial setback, the Panic of 1907, ended investment although afterwards another great construction period did not materialize. In 1889 there were just 7 miles of interurbans in service, a number which jumped to 3,122 by 1901, and finally peaked at 15,580 in 1916.
These numbers slowly receded into the 1920's as abandonment hastened through the 1930's. By 1950 just 1,519 miles remained and the number dropped to 209 miles by 1959.
As William Middleton notes in his book, "Traction Classics: The Interurbans, Extra Fast & Extra Fare, Volume II," by the end of World War I interurbans were already experiencing financial difficulty.
The interurban was conceived as a transit system, developed from the basic streetcars of the era. However, instead of serving a single municipality this new operation would link two or more.
In an era before automobiles, when steel rails handled nearly all interstate and intercity travel, the interurban concept seemed viable, in theory.
There was also the added perk of providing some freight business. As interurbans expanded they did indeed initially prove popular offering quick service, multiple schedules daily (the large Illinois Traction system, for instance, was dispatching 106 trains out of Springfield, Illinois everyday by 1906), and with fares only a few cents each way.
Depending upon cost an interurban's route either followed its own dedicated right-of-way or, with permission from the state/county, could be laid right next to a rural road.
The latter alternative was cheaper but the resulting grades and curves were less than ideal, a problem only compounded when freight movements were involved.
Visually, the interurban was classic Americana as a car sped along a grass-covered right-of-way with its trolley pole extended high.
While postdating the industry, one the great depictions of interurban right-of-way is illustrated in Trains Magazine's October, 1993 issue under a segment entitled, "Trains Of New England: A Yankee Autumn" (Page 57).
In the scene, captured by Scott Hartley, Claremont & Concord 44-tonner #31 totes a single boxcar along the former interurban's rickety trackage skirting State Route 103 at West Claremont, New Hampshire during October of 1976.
It seems surreal that a train could actually fit on such a narrow patch of right-of-way where a railroad doesn't even appear to exist!
For power, most interurbans used overhead catenary (energized electric lines attached to line-side poles), usually rated at around 600 volts.
However, in some cases third-rail was utilized and the electricity greater. To produce the needed power either substations were built or it was purchased directly from energy companies.
While most interurbans were small, local operations this was not always the case. Those like the Illinois Terminal, South Shore Line, and Piedmont & Northern maintained more than 100 miles each and boasted an expansive freight business.
Alas, the classic streetcar proved susceptible even to the earliest of automobiles and began a quick decline after World War I.
To make matters worse they contained extremely high operating ratios of 85-90% (some were even greater than 100%) while the average rate of return never exceeded 3%.
Most were gone by the immediate postwar years and only the strongest survived to see 1960. Today, some of the streetcar systems have survived for commuter service such as in Philadelphia (today, operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority or "SEPTA"), Chicago (Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, NICTD), and the remnants of Pacific Electric's great system in Los Angeles.
In addition, as highways grow evermore cramped, true trolley lines have returned within various cities. 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 interurbans 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.
There were surrounding states which also had significant interurban mileage including Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. By contrast, the South had relatively few systems, as did much of West (due to the distance between large cities).
However, it is rather strange that the South never established a significant network of streetcar lines considering many cities were relatively close together just as in the Midwest.
Also of note was the Northeast. A few states like New York and New Jersey had a large network of interurbans but (Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, etc.) were littered with streetcar lines serving only a particular city/town (some of these are 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.
Chicago, South Shore & South Bend ("South Shore Line")
Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad
Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee ("North Shore Line")
Portland Traction Company, "PEPCO"
Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville
Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern
Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern
Niles Car & Manufacturing Company
A Further History of Streetcars And Trolleys
PCCs, Presidents’ Conference Committee Streetcars
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 the 1920s.
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 & Light 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 1925.
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.
Tucson Street Railway: The Tucson 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 Tucson 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.
Bakersfield & Kern Electric Railway: The Bakersfield & Kern Electric Railway dates 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 California Street 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 short-lived 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, 1946.
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 dissolved.
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 Francisco (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 15, 1926.
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 1940s.
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: This 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 & Traction 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 were suspended.
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 electric 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 1929.
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.
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 buses.
Charles City Western Railway: The Charles City Western Railway was once part of 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, Iowa was completed, a distance of about 21 miles. The railroad would eventually connect into downtown Charles City as well as a belt line route built around the town for freight service.
Passenger was discontinued in 1952. In 1963 it was acquired by the Iowa Terminal Railroad (predecessor to today's Iowa Traction system) and became the Charles City Division.
In 1968 an F5 tornado hit Charles City and seriously damaged the road's overhead catenary, resulting in the discontinuance of electrified service.
Two years later the line had been cut back to Waller, south of Colwell, with operations only extending on 15.7 of the original 21 miles. Freight continued to decline on the Charles City Division and by the mid-1970s it was abandoned altogether
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 trackage 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 discontinued.
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 finally abandoned.
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 interchanged 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 1926.
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 its name 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 discontinued.
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.
It began 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 buses.
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 discontinued.
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 suspended.
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 Traction Company.
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 was discontinued.
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 abandoned.
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 abandoned.
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 short-lived 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.
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 of buses.
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 mid-1930s.
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 the city.
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 by buses.
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 beginning operations in 1895.
The interurban 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 abandoned.
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.
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 buses.
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 abandoned.
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 Central subsidiary).
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 Central subsidiary).
Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern Railroad: The Rochester, Syracuse & Eastern 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 operating a high-speed, double-tracked, and well-maintained physical plant. Alas, however, it struggled to generate much interchange business with surrounding railroads.
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 service.
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 1915.
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 1925.
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 abandoned.
Piedmont & Northern Railroad: The Piedmont & Northern Railway began in 1910 serving two disconnected routes in North Carolina and South 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 service 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 Company 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 abandoned.
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 abandoned.
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 December, 1936.
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
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 1946.
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 buses.
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 discontinued.
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 Fe).
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 intercity operations:
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 line losses.
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 Chattanooga Railway & 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 abandoned.
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 intercity streetcar systems:
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 railroad 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 Electric Company 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 discontinued.
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 streetcar operations.
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 1926.
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 in 1932.
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 service.
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 1931.
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 streetcar systems:
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 years later.)
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 on a 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 8-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 in 1921.
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 services.
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 Railway 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 1941.
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:
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 Creek.
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 inter Virginia streetcar systems:
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 until 1941.
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 the mid-1930s.
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 1921.
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 services.
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 buses.
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 River.
It operated an 11-mile railroad that became the UTC in 1908 and was succeeded by the Sistersville & 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 1930.
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.
Two 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 downtown 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 intercity systems:
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 Sheboygan, Plymouth, Elkhart Lake, Fond Du Lac, Oshkosh and Neenah. Streetcar operations survived until 1927 when buses replaced rail service.
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 Traction Company.)
Sheridan Interurban Railway
Thanks to Ken Johnsen and Yakima Valley Trolleys for help with the information on this page.
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