Jim Crow Segregation on Interstate Trolleys

General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.

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Jim Crow Segregation on Interstate Trolleys

Postby JimBoylan » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:10 pm

There are some discussions on RyPN.org and the PRR_Fax Yahoo Group about segregation on interstate railroad trains, when not all of the railroads or states in the route discriminated at all times. What about trolley and interurban lines?
Possibilities could be:
Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis. Baltimore City and District of Columbia laws were sometimes different from Maryland state laws.
Indiana Railroad, Louisville Railways' "Daisey Line", and Evansville, Henderson & Owensboro over the Ohio River between Indiana and Kentucky. Were Negros forced to ride in the back lounge section of the IRR lightweight cars, which was advertised as being available to all coach passengers?
East St. Louis & Suburban across the Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River between Illinois and Missouri.
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Re: Jim Crow Segregation on Interstate Trolleys

Postby edbear » Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:48 pm

There were also the Cincinnati, Newport & Covington and Capital Transit (Wash DC-later /DC Transit) which crossed the District Line into Virginia and Maryland.
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Re: Jim Crow Segregation on Interstate Trolleys

Postby R,N, Nelson » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:01 am

The Capital Transit route into Virgina was very short in that state. The line crossed the Potomac River on the Key Bridge, which was all in D.C. and only had a loop immediately on the other side in Virgina at Rosslyn. So the Virginia State segregation law that "Colored seat from rear" was not enforced.

But it was a different story on the Virginia lines that had terminals in Washington and ran deeper into Virginia such as the Washington and Old Dominion, Arlington and Fairfax and Washington, Alexandria and Mt. Vernon. If a Black person did occupy a seat in "the front of the car" leaving Washington, they were required to move to a seat in "the rear of the car" or to a "Jim Crow car" if one was so designated, once across the river. So as a result, most just sat in a "rear seat" to begin with, when leaving Washington.

Same thing on the WB&A, once the train crossed from D.C. into Maryland at Seat Pleasant. I am reminded of the story of the Black D.C. school teacher who boarded and sat in a"front seat" in Washington and refused to move when the single car train reached Seat Pleasant. The Conductor asked her to do so repeatedly, but to no avail So when the train made a scheduled station stop halfway to Baltimore at Naval Academy Junction, the Conductor phoned ahead for police to remove her. She was arrested when the train arrived in Baltimore. The Conductor said that in his entire time on the WB&A, this only happened once. That incident made the newspapers.

I don't know about segregation laws in Virginia, but in Maryland, the Conductor would have been arrested for failing to enforce the law. But no action was taken against him in this case since he attempted to do so. But the school teacher was charged with disorderly conduct. The laws in Maryland were written for a White person to require the exclusion of a Black person. In Maryland, one saw it mostly enforced in schools and public places such as, bus and rail stations, restaurants and lunch counters, swimming pools, amusement parks, barber shops, movie theaters and bars. Even most cemeteries were "White only." I can't recall a notice that "White seat from front" being posted on transit in Maryland, as I did in Virgina and the rest of the South. In the South there were even separate restrooms and drinking fountains.

When the laws were first changed, I seem to recall that a Federal Law superseded anyone in interstate transit and exempted them from any State or local Jim Crow laws.When I was coming home from Basic Training in the Army, we rode from Columbia Ga to Atlanta (intrastate) on the Central of Georgia so the Jim Crow law of that State applied and the train had a Jim Crow car. But in Atlanta, we changed to a train for Washington which was interstate and the Jim Crow laws did not apply.

Norman
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Re: Jim Crow Segregation on Interstate Trolleys

Postby JimBoylan » Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:49 am

Thanks for eyewitness information. Can you please add the date to your account?
Maryland's railroad and streetcar segregation laws were passed in 1904.
I found this citation of a court case:

Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Electric R.R. Co. v. Waller, 239 F. 598, 6o1 (C.A.D.C. 1923)

in this book:

Recasting American liberty: gender, race, law, and the railroad ... - Google Books Result
books.google.com/books?isbn=0521649668...Barbara Young Welke - 2001 - History - 405 pages

at these links:

http://books.google.com/books?id=15uyCu ... CCwQ6AEwAA

and:

http://www.studythepast.com/his378/race ... gation.pdf

I can't find the actual court record on the Internet.

The book cites other street railway cases, but this was the only one I noticed that crossed state lines.
Hagerstown & Fredrick had a line that ran from Maryland into Pennsylvania.
Texas required segregated streetcars, but what about Ciudad Jarez in Mexico, on the International trolley line from El Paso?
Wheeling and other West Virginia places had trolleys that crossed into Ohio, but I can't find any laws that required segregated streetcars in W. Va. They were more concerned with schools and public records.
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Re: Jim Crow Segregation on Interstate Trolleys

Postby Milwaukee_F40C » Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:39 pm

The consequences that transit workers faced due to implementation of segregation laws enlightens some obscure and powerful perspective about the extent that rights were violated.
For a regulatory concept, it is also unusually harsh, compared to typical civil fines charged to businesses that don't comply with whatever codes.

Things like organizations being forced to segregate by law, and private streetcar companies opposing or defying the laws often aren't intuitive details to common understanding of civil rights. They are important details about the plain reality of the sources of segregation laws and the extent that they universally violated individual civil rights and property rights.
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