"Traction" lines that never electrified?

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"Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby Aa3rt » Thu Nov 25, 2010 2:37 am

For a number of years I've been researching the history of a shortline that served my hometown of Sugar Grove, in northwestern Pennsylvania. Organized as the "Youngsville and Sugar Grove Street Railway" in 1902, the line passed through a couple of owners operating as the "Warren County Traction Company" and finally the "Panama Traction Company" when the last owner purchased the line with intentions of extending operations to nearby Panama, NY.

Although the intent was to electrify the line, those goals were never reached. I'm sure that there must have been other examples of lines that were built with the intention of electrifying but never saw wires strung. The only other example I can immediately think of is the Dan Patch Line in Minnesota. Can anyone else provide other instances?

A "photoessay" on the Youngsville & Sugar Grove Street Railway:

http://forums.railfan.net/forums.cgi?board=fallenshorts;action=display;num=1178290013

And a writeup on the Dan Patch lines from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minneapolis,_Northfield_and_Southern_Railway
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby polybalt » Thu Nov 25, 2010 10:44 am

Another was the Woodstock and Sycamore, which ran between Sycamore and Marengo, Illinois from 1911 to 1918. It was never electrified and operated with McKeen gas cars. There is still a corner building in "downtown" Marengo with two bay windows, one facing each of the two intersecting streets. Railfan lore is that one window was for the Woodstock & Sycamore dispatcher and the other for the Elgin & Belvedere dispatcher. The E&B did electrify, but only made money in one or two years. I don't think Marengo was a bustling interchange point! Further east, 5 miles of the E&B has been rebuilt as the main line of the Illinois Railway Museum.
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:40 am

Aa3rt wrote:For a number of years I've been researching the history of a shortline that served my hometown of Sugar Grove, in northwestern Pennsylvania. Organized as the "Youngsville and Sugar Grove Street Railway" in 1902, the line passed through a couple of owners operating as the "Warren County Traction Company" and finally the "Panama Traction Company" when the final owner purchased the line with intentions of extending operations to nearby Panama, NY.

Although the intent was to electrify the line, those goals were never reached. I'm sure that there must have been other examples of lines that were built with the intention of electrifying but never saw wires strung. The only other example I can immediately think of is the Dan Patch Line in Minnesota. Can anyone else provide other instances?

A "photoessay" on the Youngsville & Sugar Grove Street Railway:

http://forums.railfan.net/forums.cgi?board=fallenshorts;action=display;num=1178290013

And a writeup on the Dan Patch lines from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minneapolis,_Northfield_and_Southern_Railway

I helped write that MN&S article. :grin:

Around Minnesota there were actually two more: the Luce Line (or Electric Short Line Railroad Company), running from Minneapolis towards Watertown, SD but only ever reaching Gluek, MN; and the Minnesota Northwestern Electric Railway, purchased by the Soo Line immediately after construction, and though meant to reach International Falls, it only reached 20 miles east of Thief River Falls, MN. Both used GE doodlebugs of much the same type as the Dan Patch - in the case of the MNW, their only motive power was one GE doodlebug.
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby Aa3rt » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:51 am

Thanks for the replies gentlemen, interesting stuff! Keep 'em coming!
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby 3rdrail » Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:18 pm

Hi Art !
As you know, the NEC is currently electrified north of New Haven now, but that's only relatively recent. When the section of what's now the NEC (the New Haven's Boston - Providence Main Line) out of South Station was planned and built, the New Haven RR foresaw electrification, if only for two of it's four track main line on this route. The plan was for an electrified third rail system, much the same as the NH's experimental third rail system on the South Shore, to be set up on the outer tracks of the P-B Main Line (tracks 1/4), which were going to be set up as commuter operation with the two inner tracks (tracks 2/3) used for high speed express travel. The three rights of way would be divided by fences to discourage persons from crossing the high speed tracks. I believe that the legend that the underground loop that had been built at South Station was not used after engineers saw the amount of dangerous exhaust filled the area from steam locomotives is rubbish. They were far smarter than that. What I believe happened was that the loop was designed to turn electric commuter trains, which would have used South Station as it's terminal. I also believe that what happened was that there was a fierce rivalry between the New Haven RR and the Boston Elevated Railway Company to provide this same service within the city of Boston. I wouldn't doubt that many secret negotiations took place and the bottom line was that a stalemate took place until relatively modern times. You can even see this plan put out by the early Metropolitan Transit Authority in it's 1945 proposed extension map, so it's obvious that this turf battle was long lasting. Most likely, the power hungry NH was stymied by the powerful Boston Transit Commission, which probably had more allegiance to the Boston Elevated Railway Company than it did to Connecticut's New Haven Railroad. So, what it probably came down to was that the NH had the ROW, but didn't have the authority, while BERy (and MTA) would have had the authority, but didn't have the ROW. Another interesting facet to this whole thing is that I have never seen, nor do I believe that any evidence exists, to document all this. This leads me to believe that some money passing hands may have been in the works...so from the early failure of the underground loop, on, a fabrication was formulated and then the matter disappeared as a matter of interest for quite a while. It's interesting to think of how our MBTA might be routed today had that happened. Would the Red Line still go through the South Station area ? Would the Main Line and the S/W/C Orange Line have been built ? From living next to the Boston-Providence Main Line all my life, I can tell you that when it was four tracks, the outer two tracks rarely saw service. About the only time that I ever saw service was once when I saw a work train making it's way inbound.
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby JimBoylan » Fri Nov 26, 2010 1:49 pm

The California Street Cable Rwy. (Cal. Cable) lasted into the early 1950s before it was bought by the Municipal Rwy. of San Francisco. It still hasn't been electrified.
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby ExCon90 » Fri Nov 26, 2010 3:20 pm

JimBoylan wrote:The California Street Cable Rwy. (Cal. Cable) lasted into the early 1950s before it was bought by the Municipal Rwy. of San Francisco. It still hasn't been electrified.

Good one.
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby delvyrails » Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:12 pm

One company that managed to electrify only a minor part of its system was the St. Joseph Valley Traction Company in Indiana. Non-electrified lines usually are shown in the maps in the Hilton and Due classic, "The Electric Interurban Railways in America", as dashed lines.

IIRC, even the mighty Pacific Electric had some remote trackage that never was electrified.
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby TB Diamond » Sun Nov 28, 2010 9:35 pm

The Newark & Marion Railroad, Newark to Marion, NY. Chartered as electric line but never electrified.
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby Frank Hicks » Sun Nov 28, 2010 10:09 pm

Another was the Macomb & Western Illinois (later known as the Macomb Industry & Littleton), which was built in 1903 as an interurban but was not electrified. Original equipment included a pair of cars bought from St. Louis Car Company, designed as interurbans and meant to later be fitted with electric motors, and as motive power an ex-Chicago elevated 0-4-4T and an internal-combustion locomotive which is one of the, if not "the," earliest internal combustion locomotives used in regular service in the U.S.

The 0-4-4T with coach 2, similar in design to cars built for the Southern Michigan: http://gelwood.railfan.net/misc-m/mwi-s1awiu.jpg
The internal-combustion boxcab (unnumbered): http://gelwood.railfan.net/misc-m/mwi-bc0bwiu.jpg
Combine 2 and the boxcab: http://gelwood.railfan.net/misc-m/mwi-cb1awiu.jpg

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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby Aa3rt » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:05 am

Providing a "bump" for this now dormant topic...

Using a gift card I received for Christmas from the bride and stepson, I purchased a copy of The Electric Interurban Railways In America by George W. Hilton and John F. Due.

I've been slowly reading it and uncovered this little gem today: In the chapter on Illinois, there's a section devoted to the Sterling, Dixon and Eastern Traction Company. At the end of the writeup, there's a short paragraph that states "Southwest of this line was the Dixon, Rock Falls and Southeastern, eventually reorganized as the Hoopole, Yorktown and Tampico. This was designed to be an interurban, and was so listed in many reports, but it was never electrified. Steam operations on a limited scale continued until the 1950's."

I'd almost forgotten about this little line-here's a link to a thread on the Hoopole, Yorktown and Tampico that I started in the "Shortlines, Industrial and Military Railroads" forum almost 5 years ago:

http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=111&t=25908
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby CarterB » Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:02 pm

IIRC, the coal operations of the Illinois Traction around O'Fallon and Troy, IL were steam only lines, never electrified.
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby 3rdrail » Sun Mar 20, 2011 2:00 pm

Another local line that was set up for electric cars but never ran them here in Boston were the two tracks underneath the original Back Bay Station on Clarendon Street. (Actually, a branch, in line with South Station's similiar "mis-calculation".) The two tracks were served by an island platform directly underneath the baggage room, and were supposedly set up for "Suburban Electric Service" which was to be provided by the New Haven Railroad. Once again, it didn't happen, the excuse was given that because of it's location, that passengers couldn't easily access the platforms, etc. (Remember the South Station underground loop that couldn't support steam locomotives because of the fumes ?) Meanwhile, inside one block surrounding the station flourished the rails of the Boston Elevated Railway Company. (Dartmouth/Huntington/Boylston/Berkeley/Columbus Ave.) The New Haven Railroad found out that Boston wasn't New Haven, CT.
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby Aa3rt » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:30 pm

It's been about a year and a half since this thread was just updated, but I managed to stumble across another one this morning.

Looking through a book titled Lost Trolleys of Queens and Long Island by Stephen L. Meyers (An Arcadia book), in Chapter 5 "The South Shore Lines and a Surprise" is mention of the short, and short lived Long Beach Railway. This obscure little line only operated between 1923 and 1925, serving the town of Long Beach, on Long Island, New York. (Not to be confused with the much more famous Long Beach in California.)

This line used gasoline powered railbuses on its brief run between Long Beach and a connection with the Long Island Railroad. The original intent was to electrify the line but after only 3 years of operation a lack of patronage doomed the line to a footnote in history.
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Re: "Traction" lines that never electrified?

Postby JimBoylan » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:39 pm

I don't know if it was intended to be a traction line, as it was built about 1886, at the very beginning of the electric era, but the streetcar in Sulphur Rock, Ark. was still being pulled by a mule when it was replace by a fliver and a truck just before June 16, 1926. It lasted long enough to be pictured on a 1983 U.S. postage stamp. Here's a Google link to a Milwaukee (Wisc.) Journal article about Jim the mule, who was out standing in his field after the end of rail service:
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1 ... 85,1076744
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