Red Cars - Pacific Electric

Pacific Electric (PE) was America’s largest interurban electric railway system, blanketing the Los Angeles region with more than 1,000 miles of rail lines. The origins of the “Red Car” system date back to 1895 and the opening of the region’s first electric interurban line connecting Los Angeles with Pasadena. In 1901, real estate and utility tycoon Henry Huntington formed the Pacific Electric, sparking an intense period of interurban expansion and a battle with the Southern Pacific (SP) railroad for control of the region’s electric railways. Huntington sold his interests in the PE to the SP in 1910, and the “Great Merger” of 1911 consolidated almost all of the region’s interurbans under SP control. In exchange for his interest in the PE, Huntington gained complete control of Los Angeles’ local streetcar system, the Los Angeles Railway.

By 1914, more than 1,600 PE trains entered or left Los Angeles daily over the system’s four operating districts. The system reached its peak in the mid-Twenties, after which it began a slow decline, halted temporarily by the traffic boom brought on by World War II, and then declining precipitously in the postwar years. In 1953, PE’s remaining passenger operations were sold to transit operator Metropolitan Coach Lines, who in turn sold the remaining lines to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority in 1958. The last remnant of PE’s vast passenger operation, the line to Long Beach, was replaced with busses in 1961.

PE also operated a significant freight business, becoming the third largest originator of on-line freight in California. Many PE rail lines were retained for freight service after passenger operations ended, and several have even returned to transit use as modern “Light Rail” and commuter rail lines. 

The Museum has a collection of over 35 pieces of rail equipment from the far-flung Red Car empire, including many of the most iconic pieces such as the classic “Hollywood Cars” of the 1920s and the enormous “Blimps” which closed out service on the PE in 1961.   

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Roster of Red Cars - Pacific Electric Equipment
Preserved at OERM

City & Suburban Cars
No. Type Builder Built - Retired Construction Notes
152 Double-Truck Birney St. Louis 1925 - 1941 body, on trucks
179 "Submarine" Pullman 1912 - 1934 Steel body, on trucks
331 Birney Brill 1918 - 1941 operational
332 Birney Brill 1918 - 1941 operational
511 "Baby Five" MU Coach St. Louis 1901 - 1934 body, poor condition *...
5123 "Hollywood Car" MU St. Louis 1922 - 1959 complete car, non-op ex...
524 "Baby Five" MU Coach St. Louis 1901 - 1934 body
530 "Medium Five" MU Coach St. Louis 1909 - 1937 Wood body
538 "Medium Five" MU Coach St. Louis 1909 - 1937 Wood complete car, non-op
637 "Hollywood Car" MU St. Louis 1922 - 1959 complete car, non-op. ex...
655 "Hollywood Car" MU St. Louis 1924 - 1954 Steel complete car, non-op ex...
716 "Hollywood Car" MU Brill 1925 - 1959 complete car, non-op ex...
717 "Hollywood Car" MU Brill 1922 - 1959 Steel operational ex PE 5167
Freight Cars
No. Type Builder Built - Retired Construction Notes
1905 Flat-Top Caboose LA&R 1896 complete car
19273 Caboose LV 1926 wood complete car
1962 Flat-Top Caboose PE 1939 wood complete car
1970 Flat-Top Caboose LS&MS c1915 wood complete car
1971 Caboose LS&MS c1915 wood complete car
1985 Caboose RF&P 1905 wood complete car
2704 Box Car SSC 1924 composite complete car
2721 Box Car SSC 1924 composite complete car
2729 Box Car SSC 1924 composite complete car
2731 Box Car SSC 1924 composite complete car
2731 Box Car SSC 1924 composite complete car
2737 Box Car SSC 1924 composite complete car
Interurban Cars
No. Type Builder Built - Retired Construction Notes
1000 Officer's Car Jewett 1913 - 1947 Wood body, on trucks
1001 "Ten" MU Coach Jewett 1913 - 1954 Wood Operational
1045-46 Trailer Coach American 1908 - 1934 Wood body only, non-...
1299 Officer's Car Pullman 1912 / 1958 Steel complete car
1406 "Portland" RPO-Baggage Brill 1913 - 1959 Steel body, on trucks
314 Blimp MU Coach St. Louis 1930 - 1959 Steel / Aluminum Operational
418 "Blimp" MU Coach Pullman 1913 - 1961 Steel operational
498 "Blimp" MU Baggage / Coach Pullman 1913 - 1959 operational
993 "950" MU Coach St. Louis 1907 - 1950 body, on trucks
Locomotives
No. Type Builder Built - Retired Construction Notes
1624 Steeplecab Pacific Electric 1925 - 1958 Operational
Work Cars
No. Type Builder Built - Retired Construction Notes
00150 Trolley Wire Greaser LAP 1898 - 1957 complete car, poor...
00157 Tower Car PE 1915 - 1957 Wood operational


Page Updates

Date Comment Link
July 12, 2012 - 23:05 PE 1299
May 4, 2012 - 20:10 PE-1624
May 4, 2012 - 20:02 PE-179
May 4, 2012 - 18:20 PE-1045-46
December 6, 2011 - 18:46 PE-314
December 1, 2011 - 19:03 Testing Revision Commenting PE-152
November 29, 2011 - 18:34 PE-717
November 29, 2011 - 18:32 PE-637
November 29, 2011 - 18:28 PE-00150
November 21, 2011 - 16:05 PE-331
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