Today, we take a bit of a spring break from our usual Chicago-area posts to head for other parts. In fact, we have a veritable alphabet soup of other properties to offer, with the most notable letters being LVT, DCT, and CO&P.
LVT stands for Lehigh Valley Transit, a Pennsylvania streetcar and interurban operator based out of Allentown. We have featured LVT photos on a couple of other occasions, and there are many great ones, LVT being one of the most well-documented transit networks of its time, the first half of the 20th century.
I would say that anyone who is a fan of the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee, the fabled North Shore Line, might very well like LVT’s Liberty Bell Limited too. They both operated at high speeds over long distances, but there were significant differences too. While the North Shore Line ran largely on flat Midwest plains, LVT had to contend with various hills and mountains, which presented numerous challenges.
LVT pulled off a very successful modernization between 1938 and 1941, which served them well during the difficult war years that followed. It’s a shame that they were only able to buy one of the Indiana Railroad lightweight high-speeds to go along with a dozen or so ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie “Red Devils.” The IR cars could be coupled together and sometimes ran as many as three in a train, which LVT could not do with the C&LE cars.
The C&LE interurban had no use for multiple unit operation, as they barely had enough power supply to run the cars one at a time. But LVT would have benefited from them, as during World War II it often had to run multiple cars closely following each other in order to meet demand. Since the Liberty Bell Limited was mainly single track with numerous passing sidings, this was an accident literally waiting to happen. Some bad accidents did take place, which signaled the beginning of the end for the storied interurban, which ceased running in September 1951.
In our post Ringing “The Bell” (December 7, 2015) we offered a glowing review of Central Electric Railfans’ Association bulletin 147, which is about the Liberty Bell interurban. If you have had any difficulty in obtaining a copy of this fine book, we are pleased to note that it is now back in stock and readily available from CERA. (Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.)
If you like these LVT photos, we posted more here back on December 14. Railfan and Railroad magazine also gave B-147 an excellent review in their March 2016 issue.
While few LVT cars were saved, 1030 is lovingly preserved at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine.
Streetcars have finally returned to the streets of Washington, D. C. after an absence of 54 years. While this has surely been controversial, mainly because of some very protracted delays and testing that ran on for years, they are back and that is a good thing, since people in general like streetcars. They are increasingly seen as an urban development tool, and more often than not, new systems soon lead to line extensions.
However, it’s also good to remember the fine system that the District of Columbia once had. If we could only have kept much of what there was, we would probably be better off today. And this is a lesson that must be learned in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.
So, we offer some fine photos of both DC Transit and its predecessor, Capital Transit. DC Transit wanted to keep running streetcars but was forced to abandon by Act of Congress.
Here also are some rare films of Capital Transit from the 1950s:
Our last bit of “alphabet soup” is the Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria, which never actually made it to Chicago, except via a connecting interurban. Once it lost this connection, it could not survive the Great Depression, and service went out in 1934.
Therefore, it should be no surprise that photos of the CO&P are extremely scarce and many of the pictures we do have are post-abandonment. The railfan movement was in its infancy in 1934.
The CO&P had another alphabet connection, and that is to the IT, or Illinois Terminal. It was a part of the Illinois Traction System, later reorganized as the Illinois Terminal Railroad, although its interurbans did not connect with the others owned by its parent. Some of its equipment did find later use on IT, however, including IT city streetcar 415, now at the Illinois Railway Museum.
Here are four rare CO&P photos for your enjoyment.
PS- We have three new audio CD collections available for your listening pleasure. See more details at the end of this post.
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New From Trolley Dodger Records
Red Arrow Lines 1967: Straffords and Bullets
# of Discs – 1
This disc features rare, long out-of-print audio recordings of two 1967 round trips on the Philadelphia & Western (aka “Red Arrow Lines”) interurban between Philadelphia and Norristown, the famous third rail High-Speed Line. One trip is by a Strafford car and the other by one of the beloved streamlined Bullets. The line, about 13 miles long and still in operation today under SEPTA, bears many similarities to another former interurban line, the Chicago Transit Authority‘s Yellow Line (aka the “Skokie Swift”). As a bonus feature, we have included audio of an entire ride along that five mile route, which was once part of the North Shore Line.
Total time – 53:08
Steam Sounds of America’s First Railroad
(Baltimore & Ohio)
# of Discs – 1
This set represents the only professionally produced audio recordings of a large assortment of Baltimore and Ohio steam locomotives. Every type of steam power operated by the B&O in the 1950s is included. This release is for the serious railfan and railroad historian who want to accurately hear regular revenue steam motive power operations. No excursion or railfan trips have been included. All recordings are from 1952-1955.
Total time – 66:54
RRC #21 and SIC
Duluth and Northeastern
Steam in Colorado
# of Discs – 1
Railroad Record Club #21:
The Duluth and Northeastern Railroad, as of 1961 when this recording was made, was an all steam short line operating from Cloquet to Saginaw, Minnesota, a distance of approximately 11.5 miles. Its primary industry was the Northwest Paper Company mill at Cloquet where it handled loads to and from the interchange at Saginaw with the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range. It also connected with the N. P., G. N. and C. M. ST. P & P., at Cloquet. We hear from locomotives No. 27 (2-8-0) and 29 (0-8-0).
Steam in Colorado (1958) presents five great railroads, depicting the passing of an era. Roads represented are the Union Pacific, Burlington, Colorado & Southern, Rio Grande and Great Western. Steam in Colorado portrays the daily tasks of the “Iron Horse” in high country and each track has been carefully selected for the listener’s enjoyment. All aboard!
Total time – 61:55
7 thoughts on “Alphabet Soup”
Anyone have any pictures of the new DC streetcars yet?
I don’t, but the Yahoo group Philly_Traction is a good source of information from all over the country and the D.C. streetcar is one of the systems covered.
Copy and paste.
DC Transit photos:
Top photo: car 1101 (St. Louis Car 1937) heads west on Pennsylvania Ave. NW from the Navy Yard at 8th and M sts SE. The car has just passed the Peace Monument seen between the back of the car and the US Capitol Building.
Next photo: car 1122, is completing its turn from south on 14th to south east on Pennsylvania Ave. NW on its way to the rt. 54 terminal at the Navy Yard carbarn. The ornate beaux-arts Willard hotel (1901) looms in the background.
Third photo: car 1051 and 1587, St. Louis Car 1935 and 1945 respectively are operating on overhead most likely somewhere on the Maryland lines, Rts 80-82. Note the automatic trolley pole retriever device mounted on car 1578. Only a few cars in the system were fitted with this device. This device would be activated when the car was spotted over the plow-pit on an outbound trip and the pit-man would remove the conduit current-collecting plow* and the trolley pole would automatically be raised until the trolley-shoe nested onto the underside of a flat tapered pan that would self engage the shoe onto the overhead as the car moved forward. On the inbound trip a plow would be attached from the plow-pit and the trolley pole lowered by the retriever. * when operating under overhead the cars carried no conduit plow.
Capital Transit and DC Transit operated what many consider to have been the best run and well maintained streetcar system in the USA. In 1933 Capital Transit emerged from a consolidation which placed all of Washington’s street railways under one management for the first time. Capital Transit converted five rail lines to bus but reaffirmed that the streetcar would have a future as the backbone of many of Washington’s most heavily used trunk lines.
Capital Transit created a system of base-day routes and rush hour routes that differed from the base-day routes allowing many riders during the work week to enjoy a one seat ride without transfer between home and work. There were 9 base day routes which ran from one terminal to two different terminals at the other end creating about 18 individual streetcar lines. As an example: routes 40 and 42 ran from the Mount Pleasant neighborhood as route 40 Mt. Pleasant to Lincoln Park and route 42 from Mt. Peasant to 13th and D NE. Route 50 from 14th st to the Bureau of Engraving and route 54 from 14th st to the Navy yard.
DC Transit owner O. Roy Chalk wanted to retain some of the lines but congressional ill will won out.
Thanks so much for this great information. I have updated the photo captions accordingly.
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