October 8: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History


Site of Second Street Cable Railway, July 1885 (Click to enlarge)

1885:  The Second Street Cable Railroad Company begins testing its Bunker Hill cable car service that would become fully operational on October 14th.

It begins service with 80 trips per day, operating out of a power station and car house at Second and Boylston Streets.

The line featured the steepest cable gradient in North America, a 27.7% slope between Hope Street and Bunker Hill Avenue.

The railroad conntected with a steam line, the Cahuenga Valley Railroad, which ran to Hollywood.

The steam line was later forced to cut back to the city limits, which hurt the Second Street company.

The company was short of cash throughout its life and whenever it rained, water ran down the poorly drained conduit, damaging the cables and pulleys.

The cable railroad was shut down from late February into early March, 1888 because a replacement cable could not get through the mud from the train station to the powerhouse.

The Cable Railroad shuts down three years later after Los Angeles’ dirt roads and seasonal rains prove cable operations untenable.

A strong storm on December 24, 1889 ruined the property beyond repair and the Second Street Cable Railway became the first operational cable car line in the U.S. to be abandoned.


Streetcar on Pacific Electric Oak Knoll Line turns west onto Colorado Street from Lake Avenue the day before the line is abandoned, October 7, 1950 (Click to enlarge)

1950:  Last day of operation for Pacific Electric‘s Pasadena Oak Knoll Line.

The Pasadena via Oak Knoll Line was one of Pacific Electric’s most profitable lines for much of its existence, beginning in 1906.

It’s peak year was 1944, when it served 2,906, 414 passengers.

The line ran from 6th & Main Streets in Los Angeles nearly ten miles to the El Molino Station.

It was one of Pacific Electric’s few interurban lines that did not have any form of freight service.

The streetcar line was replaced by motor coach service along the same route, connecting with the Pasadena Short Line at Colorado Street and Fair Oaks Avenue to form a loop.

Pacific Electric streetcar at Sierra Madre Station, ca. 1910 (Click to enlarge)

1951:  The last day of operations for Pacific Electric’s Sierra Madre Line.

The line, which opened in 1904,  ran 17 miles from the 6th & Main Station in downtown Los Angeles to the Wilson Trail Terminal just above the city of Sierra Madre.

The line also served as the feeder route for the spur that led directly into Henry Huntington’s estate.

Its passenger peak in 1944 was recorded as 625,311 riders and the line carried freight including citrus traffic.