Item #7184 Lines of the Pacific Electric Railway in Southern California. D. W. Pontius.

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Lines of the Pacific Electric Railway in Southern California.

[California]: for Pacific Electric Railway, 1912; corrected to November 1928. Black & white map, 17” x 23.25” plus title and margins; inset text and illustrations at lower right. CONDITION: Good, old folds, a few small holes and a bit of toning along folds.

A scarce and densely detailed map of the Pacific Electric Railway, initially published a year after Henry E. Huntington lost possession of the company and as it began to rapidly expand, becoming—only a decade later—the world’s largest electric railway system. This revised issue of the map reflects the growth of the system to 1928.

Boasting of “Comfort–Speed–Safety,” the Pacific Electric Railway (fondly called the Red Cars) was a privately-owned mass transit system in Southern California, founded at the turn of the century and operating well into the second half of the 20th century. Twenty-seven years prior to the publication of this map, in November 1901, the eminent book collector and railroad tycoon Henry E. Huntington, along with several investors and the banker I. W. Hellman, would incorporate the Temple Street Cable Railway and the Pasadena and Mt. Lowe Railway into the Pacific Electric Railway Company, which would run until 1961. At its height, the interurban system—consisting of electrically powered streetcars, interurban cars, and buses—covered some 1,100 miles of electrified rail; featured over 2,700 daily trains; and served thousands of daily commuters, travelers, and tourists alike.

This map of the Pacific Electric Railway (the PE) was initially made a year after Huntington lost control of his new railroad to the Southern Pacific Transportation Company, which took over the PE in 1911 and would manage it until the end. Under this new ownership the PE grew significantly, incorporating other small railroads in the Los Angeles area. Called the “Great Merger,” the PE became the largest electric railway system in the world by the 1920s.

The map depicts the PE’s lines from San Fernando and the Gabriel Mountains in the north to Newport Beach and Balboa in the south, and from Sanata Monica, Redondo Beach, and San Pedro in the west to Redlands in the east. With trains originating in Los Angeles (indicated by a ‘star’ at the nexus of multiple rails), the lines extend to all these locations. Virtually every stop is identified along each line and spur. To the South and South-East, the map shows connecting steamship lines, to the north, the south, “Honolulu & Orient,” and Catalina Island (via the Wilmington Transportation Co. line). An inset in the lower right corner, promotes visits to Mount Lowe, the beaches, the navel orange district, and various other scenic locales.

While the PE did service freight traffic, its primary profits came from passenger service, which waned following World War II. After cutting back its operations the PE shut down its interurban services in 1961 and Southern Pacific picked up what remained of its freight operations.

OCLC records just one copy of this 1928 issue.

A detailed map of this important Southern California mass transit system.

REFERENCES: Burns, Adam. “The Pacific Electric Railway: Comfort, Speed, Safety” at American-Rails online.

Item #7184

Price: $850.00

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