Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pomona's Old Pacific Electric Rail Lines

Believe it or not, there used to be a fairly extensive network of rail lines in Southern California. The removal of all the streetcars is known as the "Great American Streetcar Scandal" also the "General Motors Streetcar Conspiracy" in which the streetcar systems were replaced with buses illegally by General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, Phillips Petroleum, Mack and the Federal Engineering Corporation. Those gave rise to the Car Culture of the U.S.

It is often said that driving is a privilege, but in southern California it seems like driving is a necessity, (especially considering there are exemptions made for people with revoked licenses to be able to drive to and from work, and the lack of an efficient mass transit system in places like Orange County).

It is unclear if Pomona's rail system suffered from the same fate or if it was a victim of the Great Depression.

However, the Pacific Electric lines that ran through the city were indeed some of the "World's Wonderland Lines" as the slogan for PE goes.

The first rails in the city were put in only twelve years after the city was founded in 1875. There were Five lines in the early lines Four of which were HORSE DRAWN and the last one was a small scale steam engine.

By 1907 Pacific Electric had purchased all the lines and began installing 8 more lines up through 1910:
Garey from 4th to walnut,
Walnut St. to Park
West Holt
East Holt
West Second
South Garey and E. 5th
South Gary and Franklin
Ganesha Park

By 1924 after WWI, PE applied to abandon the lines and the rails were removed in 1925.

Could you imagine what it'd be like if we had rails in Pomona today? It's unlikely to ever happen. I always hear that cost is a big issue. But is it really?

I have a personal agenda againt cars which I don't expect everyone else to have. But I'm telling you life would be so much easier if one didn't have to care for an automobile that needs constant upkeep. Plus if we had a rail system and you car broke down, you wouldn't have to rent a car.

I always wonder what it would have been like to live back in that time and to be riding electric rail street cars around town. Probably pretty awesome.

for more info on Pomona Rails click Here


Mona Hsieh said...

claremont's packing house used to be a station, non?

Anduhrew said...

I don't know, I think it was an actual packing house.

Here's a link to an image of the claremont station.

Empoprises said...

I suspect that the demise of Pomona's lines was not the result of the Great Depression (which didn't really begin until four years after the Pomona lines were pulled out) or the General Motors conspiracy (which occurred decades later). However, I'm not aware of a rational reason for a post-World War One dismantling of a rail line; perhaps it was just a general lack of profitability for Pacific Electric.

patrick said...

I agree. most likely, someone wasn't making the money they wanted so they pulled the plug. Welcome to capitalism.

Anduhrew said...

yeah that sounds about right. There's more info on the claremont lines. I found that 1915 had the highest income and then every year after that they lost money until they had to pull the plug.