East Bay Electric Lines

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East Bay Electric Lines
East Bay Electric Lines (1911) (14572334499) (cropped).jpg
An East Bay Electric Lines train, 1911
Overview
Owner Southern Pacific Railroad
Operation
Began operationJune 1, 1911 [1]
Ended operationJuly 26, 1941 [1]
Technical
Track gauge 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification 1200 V DC Overhead lines

The East Bay Electric Lines were a unit of the Southern Pacific Railroad that operated electric interurban-type trains in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. [2] [3] [1] Beginning in 1862, the SP and its predecessors [4] operated local steam-drawn ferry-train passenger service in the East Bay on an expanding system of lines, but in 1902 the Key System [5] [6] started a competing system of electric lines and ferries. The SP then drew up plans to expand and electrify its system of lines and this new service began in 1911. The trains served the cities of Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro transporting commuters to and from the large Oakland Pier (the "mole") and SP Alameda Pier. A fleet of ferry boats ran between these piers and the docks of the Ferry Building on the San Francisco Embarcadero.

Contents

The East Bay Electric Lines became the Interurban Electric Railway (IER) in December 1938 in anticipation of the completion the following month of the tracks on the lower deck of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge to the San Francisco Transbay Terminal. SP IER transbay commuter train service ended in July 1941.

History

Before Electrification (1863–1911)

Prior to the formation of the East Bay Electric Lines (and later Interurban Electric Railway), commuter services by the Southern Pacific Railroad and predecessor Central Pacific Railroad were run entirely by steam traction. The first railroad to operate suburban services in the East Bay was the San Francisco & Alameda Railroad, which was formed on March 25, 1863.

Through a series of mergers with the San Francisco, Alameda, & Stockton Railroad Company and the prior San Francisco & Alameda Railroad, the San Francisco, Oakland, & Alameda Railroad (SFO&A) was formed in June of 1871. The SFO&A would be absorbed by the Central Pacific Railroad in August. With the merger with the Central Pacific, trains would terminate at the Oakland Mole (a long ferry pier into the San Francisco Bay), starting in January of 1882. Suburban commuter services by the Central Pacific would be operated in the same manner after Southern Pacific took over.

In 1902 the San Francisco, Oakland, & San Jose Railway (SFO&SJ) would build a three and a quarter long mile pier from Emeryville into the San Francisco Bay. The "Key Mole" as referred to by patrons would rival the Southern Pacific's Oakland Mole for speed and general service. [7] The SFO&SJ interurban line was faster, quicker, cleaner, and quieter than the Southern Pacific's steam operations, which paled in comparison. Between 1902 and 1911, the appeal of the SFO&SJ, and later companies San Francisco, Oakland, & San Jose Consolidated Railway and Key System, would rival the Southern Pacific's steam operated commuter operations. After management changed hands in the Southern Pacific between Collis P. Huntington and Edward H. Harriman, the decline of revenue by the rivalry would force the Southern Pacific to electrify their lines in competition in 1911. [8]

Electrification to Reorganization (1911–1934)

In 1911 Southern Pacific embarked on a task to double track and electrify its commuter lines. When the construction of catenary over the new lines was complete, Southern Pacific received a new fleet of 72 foot long steel interurbans from the American Car & Foundry Company in the later months of 1911. When the electrification of the lines was completed, a passenger could board an East Bay Electric Lines interurban from either the Oakland or Alameda Moles, and travel to Dutton Avenue, Thousand Oaks, Albany, Berkeley, and Downtown Oakland. Long term plans called for extensions to Richmond and San Jose (to presumably link up with Southern Pacific's other interurban subsidiary, the Peninsular Railway), which never materialized.

In addition to interurban service, streetcar service began in 1912 through various sections of the cities it served. A series of smaller streetcars by the Pullman Car Company also served these lines, until 1930. Between 1912 and 1930 there was little change to the services of the East Bay Electric Lines. However, in 1930 all streetcar services ceased in Oakland and Berkeley as they had failed to turn a profit due to the onset of the automobile and Great Depression. In 1934, the East Bay Electric Lines reorganized as the Interurban Electric Railway (IER), in anticipation of the completion of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Due to the advent of automobile service and the Great Depression, the IER was rapidly losing both money and patronage, so a franchise was granted to them for operation on the lower deck of the Bay Bridge to the new Transbay Terminal, in order to entice new patrons.

Bay Bridge Operation to Abandonment (1934–1941)

From the reorganization of the East Bay Electric Lines into the Interurban Electric Railway in 1934, the new IER had already begun plans to reroute service and maintenance facilities well before the Bay Bridge had been completed. The location of the approach to the Bay Bridge was located directly next to the Key System's trackage that led to the Key Mole. So, the Interurban Electric Railway began construction of a trestle over the Southern Pacific and Aitchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad tracks in order to access this new area. Additionally, it was agreed that the IER and Key System should share a maintenance facility in the new Bridge Yard, so work began on a new facility and yard storage area for the two lines.

When completed, the new Bridge Yard would replace existing Key System tracks with a joint Sacramento Northern, Interurban Electric Railway, and Key System maintenance yard. Extra trains for Bay Bridge usage could also be stored here, but this practice was not used by the Sacramento Northern Railroad who preferred to utilize an existing yard.

The Interurban Electric Railway's new route also featured a fly-over bridge over Key System / Sacramento Northern tracks. From the Bridge Yard to the new Transbay Terminal, the three interurban lines would share two tracks. This required an extensive signaling system, so all trains were retrofitted with special signaling devices that warned of speed limit and the automatic block signaling. Electrification on the bridge would be at 1300 volts for the Sacramento Northern and Interurban Electric Railway, so all trains were also retrofitted to run on this voltage.

Beginning January of 1938, IER trains could now run across the Bay Bridge. Routes now terminated at the Transbay Terminal, but with a central stop at the 26th Street Station for transferring, instead of the usual Oakland and Alameda Moles. With the new addition of interurban service to San Francisco, patrons from Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda, and upper San Leandro could now ride into San Francisco. The IER saw a brief increase of patronage, but due to automobile competition and the fact that cars had been allowed to use the Bay Bridge since 1936, the IER could not compete. Between 1938 and 1940 the IER reduced services drastically in order to try and stay afloat, but could not.

On February 26, 1940, the IER applied to the Public Utilities Commission to abandon services. Interurban commuter services were no longer making money. On July 26th, 1941, the Interurban Electric Railway ran its last interurban, and was shut down the following day. [8] [6]

Lines

1927 map of the East Bay Electric Lines near their full extent 1927 East Bay Electric Lines map.jpg
1927 map of the East Bay Electric Lines near their full extent

The East Bay Electric Lines [1] were originally designated mainly by the names of their principal streets. They received numbers for Bay Bridge service. The most significant changes occurred as the result of the removal of the Harrison St. bridge between Oakland and Alameda in December 1923, and the agreement with the Key System in March 1933, with the Bay Bridge plans in view, to abandon duplicating lines, on the basis of which company first served each area.

The Oakland 7th Street Line carried the most passengers, with the Berkeley Shattuck Avenue Line being second. Patronage was at a maximum about 1920 and had declined by about half by the time of Bay Bridge operation.

The SP seemed to prefer to have groups of their lines terminate at the same place. Three lines originally terminated at Thousand Oaks in Berkeley, two at 14th and Franklin in Oakland, and two at High St S. in Alameda. The IER had two lines terminate at Thousand Oaks and two lines at West Alameda.

Equipment

Catenary Equipment and Substations

Electrification of the 52 or so miles of trackage began in early 1911, using No. 0000 grooved copper trolley wire, 7/16 inch messenger wires, and hanging loop catenary. Electrification was at 1200 volts direct-current, which allowed for higher speeds, more acceleration, and less power loss. Substations located at the Tidal Canal (along Fruitvale Ave), Thousand Oaks, and West Oakland converted 1320 volt Alternating-Current into 1200 volts direct current. [18] Catenary cross-arms were of a simple construction, using a center iron pole (painted black) and trolley cross-arms at either 60 or 120 feet of length to hold the catenary wiring.

There were different methods of the application of the towers to hold the catenary in certain settings on the lines. The East Bay Electric Lines had trackage over a series of estuaries and rivers, including the San Francisco Bay, which meant that due to the limitations of the infrastructure over these bodies of water the usual method of center-pole and cross-arm located in-between the double-track was given up, in favor of 65 feet tall iron poles in a lattice formation, that held up the catenary. Additionally, this style of catenary construction was applied on the four track segment of track that paralleled the Southern Pacific's mainline via Oakland. [8] [19] [20]

Car-shops

In order to maintain its fleet of electric locomotives, the East Bay Electric Lines and later Interurban Electric Railway had two shops, the Alameda Shops and the Bridge Yard. The Alameda Shops were located at West Alameda, on the Oakland Estuary, [18] and the Bridge Yard was the general maintenance yard for the Interurban Electric Railway and Key System just before the Bay Bridge. [21]

Interurbans

American Car & Foundry Company Interurbans

Photo of an original East Bay Electric Lines interurban when delivered by the American Car & Foundry Company. Note the rectangular windows. Original Interurban.jpg
Photo of an original East Bay Electric Lines interurban when delivered by the American Car & Foundry Company. Note the rectangular windows.

To provide faster transportation on its commuter lines, Southern Pacific purchased steel interurbans from the American Car & Foundry Company (AC&FC). The first group of cars arrived in 1911 from the AC&FC and consisted of 40 powered passenger coaches (motors), 25 powered combination baggage-passenger cars (combos), [22] and 50 unpowered passenger coaches (trailers), some with train controls and some without. They had large rectangular end windows, which proved to be a liability for train crews in accidents. [21] Eventually, these rectangular end windows would be replaced with circular windows, reminiscent of portholes and similar to the Pennsylvania Railroad's MP54 electric suburbans. The circular windows however would not be applied to trailers, or trains that lacked train controls. [16]

The first steel cars were 73 feet long, and were moderately heavy as they weighed 1562 pounds per running foot. However, they were light when measuring weight per passenger due to their high capacity of seating. The large seating of the interurbans (which sat 2 - 3 people per seat) allowed for a general capacity of 116 patrons. [20] [3] [1]

When first acquired by the AC&FC, the interurbans were painted an olive green, which was standard among most passenger cars of the time. Eventually the interurbans were repainted a bright red, which led to many patrons calling the interurbans the "Big Red Cars". The color remained until abandonment. [7]

After abandonment of electric service in the East Bay, most of the interurban cars went to the Pacific Electric, though some were deeded by the California Toll Booth Authority and used in Utah and Nevada during World War 2. Most were retired when Pacific Electric ceased service in 1961, though some remain preserved in museums such as the Western Railway Museum, Southern California Railway Museum, and Travel Town Museum. [8]

Pullman Company Interurbans

Beginning in 1913, East Bay Electric commissioned the famous Pullman Car Company to produce a series of interurbans, similar to that of the American Car & Foundry Company's style construction. The style consisted of 10 motors, 4 combination cars, and 2 powered express-baggage cars (commonly known as box motors). These differed from the AC&FC's style because these new interurbans all featured the safer rounded windows in the front and backs in the original construction, and seated only 111 passengers.

After the abandonment of the East Bay Electric, all of these interurbans were sent to the Pacific Electric for conversion into the famous "Blimps" or "Red Cars". All were retired by 1953. [8]

St Louis Car Company Interurbans

In addition to the AC&FC and Pullman built interurbans, the Southern Pacific commissioned the St Louis Car Company to produce more interurbans. These cars were identical to their predecessors, bearing the rounded windows at the front and backs. Only six motors were produced. These cars seated only 108 patrons.

All were scrapped.

Streetcars

The East Bay Electric Lines also operated a series of more suburban local services, which were served by a series of streetcars, smaller and slower than the interurbans.

Pullman Company Streetcars

The only company to manufacture streetcars for the East Bay Electric Lines was the Pullman car company. Twenty were manufactured, all featuring center-bay doors for boarding on low-platforms. The streetcars were meant for more local service, which also means they had a lower passenger seating limit, only 86 patrons.

In 1913 it was found that they had too many streetcars for the low demand of the line, so ten cars were sent to the Pacific Electric for operation there. However, two cars were brought back in 1919 due to a need for more streetcar services. [1] In 1926, because of declining patronage, the streetcars were sent to rival Key System for operation on the subsidiary East Bay Street Railways (EBSR). [8]

However, the EBSR was converting to one-man operation, which means that the motorman acts as the conductor too, and the streetcars were built for the traditional two man operation (meaning there would have been a motorman and a conductor). This led to their downfall, and in 1933 all were scrapped.

Operating Practices and Improvements

The usual operating practice was that the number of powered cars in a train was at least one more than the number of trailers. Trailers, with or without train controls, were always placed in the middle of trains; train controls on trailers were mainly used in assembling or disassembling trains. As ridership declined and trains became shorter, trailers were primarily used only during rush hour. Combos were used to carry checked baggage to and from main-line trains at Oakland Pier and to deliver bundled newspapers. They were usually put on the end of the train toward Oakland Pier, and most commonly on the 7th St Line as far as Havenscourt or Seminary Avenue. [13] When plans for longer routes were not implemented, [23] [24] 21 of the ACF combos were changed to motors at the time they received their round end windows in the 1920s. Due to the heavy grades on the Bay Bridge, 10 trailers were changed to motors in 1938 when all the passenger-carrying cars were modified with automatic train control and other safety equipment for bridge operation. [25] The California Toll Bridge Authority (TBA) funded these changes and received title to 58 cars in return. All cars carried the name "Southern Pacific Lines" until Bay Bridge service began, when the IER-owned cars were repainted with "Interurban Electric Railway Company".

Aftermath

Lines

Revival of Lines for Key System

The rival Key System assumed rights to some of the trackage and overhead wires of abandoned IER/SP routes. [3] [1] [5] [6] [26] This had first occurred due to the 1933 consolidation. In March 1933, the abandoned California St line in Berkeley from about Ada and California Sts, up Monterey Avenue to Colusa Ave, was used for the Key's Sacramento St Line (H line) until abandonment in July 1941. In April 1941, a portion of the abandoned 7th St, Dutton Ave Line in East Oakland, from East 14th St to Havenscourt Boulevard, was used to extend the Key's 12th St Line (A Line) until October 1950, when this line was cut back to 12th and Oak Sts. In August 1941, a portion of the Shattuck Ave line in Berkeley, from about Dwight Way to the south end of the Northbrae Tunnel was used to extend the Key's Shattuck Ave Line (F Line). In December 1942, the F Line was extended through the tunnel to the intersection of Solano Ave and The Alameda. The F Line was abandoned in April 1958.

Key System streetcars also used the IER Shattuck Avenue tracks from Parker St to University Ave until abandonment in November 1948. [27] During World War II the Key System used a portion of the 7th St, Dutton Ave Line tracks in Oakland on 7th St, from Broadway to Pine St, for streetcar service [28] to a shipyard and most of the 9th St track of the 9th St Line for the Richmond Shipyard Railway.

Freight Service

SP freight service continued over parts of the 9th St, Shattuck Ave, 7th St and Lincoln Ave Lines. An excursion train pulled by a steam locomotive was operated over this track in April 1954, by the Bay Area Electric Railroad Association. [29] By 1960, all except the part from the 9th St Line had been abandoned.

Infrastructure remnants

Although not a lot remains infrastructure wise of the old East Bay Electric, there are some very noticeable remains. The Northbrae Tunnel, which runs between Sutter St and Solano Avenue underneath the Fountain Roundabout, is one of the most physical remains of the SP/IER. The tunnel once was a main artery for the SP interurbans into Thousand Oaks, and was used by Key System well after abandonment of SP electric service.

Additionally, the elevated platforms of the IER still exist at Southern Pacific's 16th Street Station in Oakland. Although interurban service ceased to the elevated platforms in 1941, the platforms were never torn down and still remain today as a visible reminder of former IER service. However, both approach trestles to the elevated platform were demolished during abandonment. The trestle that crosses the Southern Pacific mainline however still exists, partially. The northbound portion of the trestle was formerly in use by the Oakland Terminal Railway, a Key System subsidiary meant to handle freight. Sections of the trestle have been cut down, such as large sections of the former double-tracked bridge, which was downgraded to single-track during the sixties and seventies, after switching motions were no longer required on the bridge. [30] The southbound portion of the trestle was converted to a road after abandonment, and does not exist anymore aside from a 280 foot long section. Since 2011, the Oakland Terminal Railway has no longer used the trestle for a variety of reasons, most notably being a 4% grade and weight limits. A lack of customers caused the line to cease using the trestle. Since then there is no track access on either side, leaving it isolated from the national rail network.

Aside from the Northbrae Tunnel, 16th Street Station, and trestle, nothing else too visible remains. The Emeryville Greenway between 9th street and Stanford Ave is a section of former IER right of way that serviced the interurban line to Thousand Oaks.

Equipment

After the SP streetcar line was abandoned in 1926, all 12 cars were sold to the Key System. [31] [19]

After IER service ended, the TBA separated its 58 cars from the SP's 89 cars. In 1942, the TBA sold 6 motors for scrap in January [32] and the remaining 52 cars to the Houston Shop Corp., which shipped them via the SP to Houston. One of the TBA trailers was wrecked in transit, so the SP replaced it with one of its trailers. The SP sent the 2 box motors to the PE, [33] in March and April used 5 trailers for buildings in West Oakland, [34] and stored their remaining 81 cars until they were requisitioned in July and September by the United States Maritime Commission for use in transporting workers to World War II shipyards: 20 trailers to a line in the Portland, Oregon, area and 61 cars to the PE in Southern California where some of them were in use until that system ceased operations in 1961. [35] Many cars were reassigned to other locales during World War II. [36] A few of the cars have been preserved.

Preserved Interurbans

IER NumberPreserved NumberCurrent Status
302 Pacific Electric 498In Operational Condition at the Southern California Railway Museum in Perris, California.
315 Pacific Electric 4601Displayed on freight trucks at the Southern California Live Steamers in Torrance, California. Owned by Torrance Historical Society. Badly deteriorated.
344 Pacific Electric 418In Operational Condition at the Southern California Railway Museum in Perris, California.
332 Pacific Electric 457Displayed on freight trucks at the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista, California.
358Interurban Electric 358Displayed at the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista, California.
379 LAMTA 1543Displayed at the Travel Town Museum in Griffith Park Los Angeles, California.
600Interurban Electric 600Displayed at the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista, California.
602Interurban Electric 602Displayed at the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista, California.
603Interurban Electric 603Displayed at the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista, California.

See also

Footnotes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Ford (1977).
  2. Guppy
  3. 1 2 3 Tufveson.
  4. See under Lines.
  5. 1 2 3 Sappers (1948).
  6. 1 2 3 4 Demoro (Parts 1 and 2).
  7. 1 2 "Western Railway Museum: Key System History". Western Railway Museum.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Trimble, Paul (1977). Interurban Railways of the Bay Area. Fresno, California: Valley Publishers. pp. 7–23. ISBN   0-913548-47-2.
  9. Red car (before bridge) at Berkeley Station
  10. INTERURBAN ELECTRIC RAILWAY COMPANY TIME TABLE, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, San Leandro, March 25, 1940, Form 1.
  11. Ford, (1977), p. 278.
  12. IER train at Fruitvale Station
  13. 1 2 3 Ford (1977), p. 329.
  14. Southern Pacific TIME TABLES, SAN FRANCISCO, OAKLAND, SAN LEANDRO, BERKELEY, ALAMEDA, Ferry and Electric Train Service, Form 7, May 1938.
  15. "IER car on Encinal Ave line at Chestnut station". Archived from the original on 2010-12-19. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  16. 1 2 IER car on Lincoln Ave. line at Bay St. station.
  17. "IER car on Lincoln Ave. line at Alameda Station". Archived from the original on 2010-12-19. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  18. 1 2 Alameda shops
  19. 1 2 Demoro, Part 2, p. 275.
  20. 1 2 "Electric Railway Journal: 1915". Electric Railway Journal: 542–550. 1915 via Internet Archive.
  21. 1 2 Ford (1977), p. 245.
  22. Original train (combo, trailer, motor) in Alameda
  23. Demoro, Part 1, p. 40.
  24. Ford (1977), pp. 115, 123, map on p. 128.
  25. Ford (1977), pp. 250-251.
  26. Sappers (2007).
  27. Sappers (2007), pp. 175-176.
  28. Sappers (2007), pp. 114, 116, 120, 155, 168, 234.
  29. Ute & Singer, p. 125
  30. "Train Orders: News". Train Orders. October 9, 2009.
  31. Sappers (2007), pp. 440-441.
  32. Sappers (1965).
  33. Swett (October, 1965), pp. 572-573.
  34. Southern Pacific Co. records.
  35. Swett, (April 1965), pp. 388-409.
  36. Some of this information is known, some is not, and contradictory statements have been published on some points.

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The San Francisco and Alameda Railroad (SF&A) was a short-lived railroad company in the East Bay area of the San Francisco Bay Area. The railroad line opened 1864–1865 from Alameda Terminal on Alameda Island to Hayward, California, with ferry service between Alameda Terminal and San Francisco started in 1864. After being bankrupted by the 1868 Hayward earthquake, it was acquired by a subsidiary of the Central Pacific Railroad in August 1869. Part of the SF&A line between Alameda Terminal and San Leandro served as a portion of the First Transcontinental Railroad starting in September 1869, while the southern section was abandoned in 1873.

The Western Pacific Railroad (1862-1870) was formed in 1862 to build a railroad from Sacramento, California, to the San Francisco Bay, the westernmost portion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. After the completion of the railroad from Sacramento to Alameda Terminal on September 6, 1869, and then the Oakland Pier on November 8, 1869, which was the Pacific coast terminus of the transcontinental railroad, the Western Pacific Railroad was absorbed in 1870 into the Central Pacific Railroad.

Northbrae Tunnel

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References

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