The very first streetcar, which was drawn by four
gray horses, went up Walnut St. on Sept. 4,1859. One of the rails was too low at
9th St. and the car left the tracks. The passengers (The Mayor, Councilmen,
newspapermen etc) jumped off and lifted the car back on to the tracks. One child
hanging onto the platform fell off and was run over. Thousands of people
followed the streetcar to the end of its run. Going up hills with horse drawn streetcars could
be done only with the use of additional horse power provided by a special
hill-team of horses. Although reliant on horses and mules horsecars were a great
improvement over the omnibuses (glorified stagecoaches) that were used before. The last horsecar was on Nov. 2,1903.
If you would like to see some images of horsecars, click on the link above. These images were, for the most part, before the postcard era so they are all photographs.
For information on steam operated streetcars see the image below of the steam Dummy and follow the link above. As with horsecars these are photographs.
By 1875 there were 14 separate lines with 1,000 horses pulling cars over 45 miles of track. Beginning in 1889 electric streetcars began taking over the transportation needs of the city. The route followed old Colerain Ave.
By 1888 Cincinnatians were finding horses and mules too slow and expensive for the day. The useful life of a horse was four years and they were exposed to a lot of abuse which did not set well with the public. The cable railways were expensive to build and maintain. The newest form of power, electricity, was considered the way to go.
1st Electric Car
As seen in the photograph above the first electric cars were operated by the Mt. Adams & Eden Park Inclined Railway Co. in 1888. Seen in the image two overhead wires powered the motor thru a "troller" at the end of a single pole. They used a former cable car body and it can be seen pulling a cable car. It was quickly determined that the two overhead wires were too close together and so the separation became greater and the single pole was exchanged to a double pole as seen in the image below. This was also a converted cable car.
2 Pole Conversion
With electrification the streetcar system grew to 228 miles of track by 1920 with over 100 million rides a year. The corner of 5th and Walnut was considered to be the 6th busiest corner in the country for street railway crossings in the early part of the twentieth century. During peak traffic periods 380 streetcars per hour entered this corner.
Streetcars began delivering mail under contract with the U.S. Government in the 1890s. These specially converted cars ran until the service was discontinued in 1919. They had to be painted white due to government regulations.
1895 Mail car
1890s Summer Car 1900s Summer Car 12 The open air "Santiago"
During the heat of summer there were summer cars. The sides were removed and the seating was arraigned with eight benches set across the car. The 2nd photograph shows a later version around the turn of the century. Called the "Santiago" it shows the car packed with children on an outing to the zoo.
1911 Traction Company Routes
Kelsey Schoepf J. B. Foraker Jr. J. H. Schoepf Dana Stevens
President Vice President Claim Agent V.P. & Gen. Mgr.
These are not
1915-Queen City Ave. 1937-Mitchel & Vine Corner Harrison & Colerain.
During periods of high water some cars were raised and, in some cases, the tracks themselves were raised on railroad ties. The motors in a car were placed inside the car and they would push or pull the passenger cars that would have their seating raised above the water. They were able to pass through water up to four feet deep. These cars were used from 1901 to 1940. The 2nd image above shows cars being prepared for use. The two cars shown were set at different flood levels.
THE TRANSIT STRIKE OF 1913
On Friday, May 9, 1913 the conductors
and motormen of the Cincinnati Traction Company went on strike. The issues were
wages and recognition of the employees' union. Some men joined the ranks of the
strikers while others, fearing trouble, just stayed home. Firemen and engineers
did not strike thus electric power was not stopped. Strike breakers from other
cities were brought in to try and keep the cars running. It was on Monday, the 12th that the real effect
of the strike became apparent. All the interurbans, (cars from other cities),
refused to enter the city. The only car that ran undisturbed was the mail car.
Strike breakers tried to make a dash out of the Avondale Car Barn with two cars
but stalled when the trolley poles jumped the wires right in the middle of a
group of strikers. The cars were finally started and went down the street
followed by a car with four policemen and a mob of 200 angry strikers. The
tracks in front of the cars were strewn with rocks, planks, bricks, and trucks
faking engine trouble.
Some cars did manage to make it into the downtown area; but one car was stopped as it left the Brighton Car Barn and set on fire. Two other cars were stopped by a mob at Sixth and Sycamore Streets and set on fire. One car was deserted by its crew in the downtown area and was demolished. Most cars were stoned and many just turned back and went to the car barns. That night no trolleys could be found on the streets.
On Friday, May 16th, as a car circled Fountain Square, someone pushed a trash can in front of it. The car stalled when its fender became mashed under the front wheels. The mob tried to board the car to work over the motorman, but the policeman on board along with the passengers, and other strike breakers locked the doors, and pulled down the shades. The crowd was estimated to be about 10,000 people. They were finally dispersed by a fleet of autos containing policemen, and many mounted policemen. This type of occurrence happened all over the city that day. Many crews had to abandon their cars and flee for their lives as unruly mobs, who had no connection with the strikers or strikebreakers, attacked.
On May 17th car 642 of the Elberon line was stopped by an obstruction in front of the Union Central Building, which was under construction at that time. Suddenly from almost every floor of the building came a barrage of barrels, cement blocks, and bags of cement. The crew had fled in terror when the barrage had first started. Police on the ground fired their pistols at the culprits. The construction crew huddled on a scaffold with concrete going in one direction and bullets going in the other. When the disturbance was over the streetcar had been reduced to rubble.
These are not postcards
Strikers parading Walnut St. Between 5th & 6th Chief Copeland protecting car Police protecting car
Firemen dousing streetcar Streetcar burning 5th and Walnut shortly after
set on fire during riot. mob was dispersed during strike
5th & Walnut
*Thanks to Mike Lynch
When the strike started the employees were making 23 cents per hour. The strike ended May 19th when the company agreed to recognize the union and an arbitration board was set up. This board met for one month and worked out an agreement that called for 23 cents per hour to start, 25 cents after two years, and 28 cents per hour after five years. The most important part of the agreement was that in the future there would be no work stoppage over any differences between the parties but, instead, would rely on an impartial Board of Arbitration to settle the problem.
Waiting for a car Strike! I walk Getting around during
The three cards above are composite cards. The figures were cut out of one postcard and pasted on the background postcards, thus producing a comedic postcard.
1907 Elberon Ave. wreck.
This accident occurred on October 16, 1907. This was one of the worst Traction Company accidents that ever happened. The brake chain broke on the Elberon Ave. car that was going down the long hill at Mt. Hope. The brake shoes were in very poor condition. The careening streetcar swung into a curve, left the tracks, toppled over and went down a 25' embankment. All the passengers were injured and two died, with nine of the injured being hospitalized. The Traction Company was not indicted because the court found there was no applicable statute to cover it.
East End Car at Hamilton Ave. at North Bend Not a postcard
Eastern & Archer Depot. College Hill car in shed
2nd St 1923 Streetcar Routes
The postcard image above shows a streetcar approaching Vine St. The Flach Brothers Grocery was located at 2 East 2nd Street.
Fairfield Loop Unknown Areas
Written on the back of the 1st postcard it says, "A double trolley pole used in Cincinnati. The only Canadian type observatory car ever used in the U. S". In 1939 an attempt to revive attendance on streetcars was made by introducing this open air observation car. The old streetcar #1894 had its top removed at the window sill line. The seats were terraced up a grade from the front so that everyone of its 46 passengers would have an unobstructed view forward, upward, and to both sides. The postcard above shows the Hiawatha stopping at the Fairfield Loop for those wanting to take pictures. The last two images are not postcards.
Mt. Adams W. 8th at Elberon 4th & Walnut
The Hiawatha was so successful a second car was built from car #1891 and named the "Maketewah". Costing 25 cents the Hiawatha made three two-hour trips from 4th & Walnut Sts. every evening and 5 trips on Sundays and holidays. Put in service in 1939 it serviced the eastern part of the city while the Hiawatha serviced the western parts. The 3 Maketewah images are photographs.
Streetcar conductors Motorman
You can generally tell the street car conductor from the motorman by the coin changer attached to their waist.
Interurbans connected large cities with small towns all over the Midwest. The state of Ohio had more miles of track than any other state in the nation. There were nine major rail lines that converged in Cincinnati. Four of these lines stopped at, or near, the city limits. (These lines did not use the wide rail gauge that Cincinnati used.) Passengers would have to transfer to the city's streetcars in order to complete their trip. This arrangement slowed down the interurbans "fast" image considerably. The other five interurban lines that used the wide rail gauge tracks entered the city using the local streetcar tracks. Their speed had to be reduced to an average of 6 mph to reach the downtown terminal. While inside the city limits they also had to operate as regular streetcars, picking up and dropping off passengers at the regular stops.
Interurban Trestle Red Devil interurban
The Interurban Traction Terminals were located downtown on the west side of Sycamore Street between 4th & 5th Sts. The IR&T ran from 1903 to 1922 and consisted of 3 divisions: the Suburban to Bethel, Rapid Railway to Lebanon, and the Cincinnati and Eastern to New Richmond. The third one shows one of the famous Red Devil interurban cars. They operated between Cincinnati and Detroit traveling at 80-90 mph and were built in Winton Place. The last card is car #118 that was one of 20 interurbans used by the Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad in 1930. It was sold in 1938 to the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Railway where it was used until 1953 when it was sold to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Brighton Station Crossing at Eastern Ave & Delta Sedamsville car-River Rd.
in high water
The first card above is a John Street car at the end of the line on Quebec Road in South Fairmount. The second one shows the Westwood-Cheviot car at the end of the line in Cheviot. It cost 10c and you could transfer to any car line in the city. The last card shows the interior of the Winchell Avenue car house. You can see one of the cars has a sign for the Ball Park. After a big game 50 cars were parked at old Redland Field to take the fans home.
STREET RAILWAY'S WINTON SHOPS
Chester Park Shops Interior
In the 1890s the Cincinnati Street Railway built an 8 acre facility next to Chester Park which they also owned. Built for the maintenance and reconstruction of its rolling stock, plus the manufacturing of its own cars. The layout above gives a rough picture of the park and shop. The 2nd non-postcard image shows a section of the interior.
The land directly across Spring Grove Avenue from
Chester Park was also owned by the Street Railway Company and was mainly used as
a storage yard. The view of the picture above shows Spring Grove Avenue (The
curved street in the lower left corner), Clifton Avenue crossing the Mill Creek
(lower right corner), the King Machine Tool Company on Clifton Ave. Directly to
the left of the King building on the other side of the RR tracks is the Winton
Place Depot. Chester Park is not shown on the left edge. Mitchell Avenue is
going from the left edge to the top-right corner.
Directly behind the King building (next to water tower), is the Railway's storage house, which was larger when it was first constructed in 1912. At full capacity it was able to store up to 374 cars. During the Winter the Summer cars would be brought into this building, their bodies would be removed from their trucks and closed car bodies would be mounted. In the Summer the open air bodies would be installed.
In 1928 the Cincinnati Street Railway constructed the large building seen in the center of the above image and in the two views below. The second one was taken in the winter so the foliage did not block the view. The third image is a rough layout of this plant. It was called the Winton car shop and was used to repair and refurbish the company's rolling stock.
Winton Car Shop-1928 1935 Plant Layout
In the first image above you can see parts of Chester Park in the background. The large domed building near the center was Hilarity Hall. You can also see parts of the roller coaster. As you can see from the layout there were only two doors for cars to enter the building. One at the top and one on the bottom. The transfer table, running the full length of the building, would pick up each car and move it to what ever stall it needed to be sent to. Cars were scheduled to be overhauled every 60,000 miles. They would first enter the sand blast room where all paint was removed and it was cleaned inside and out. It would then go to the wash room and then to the truck repair department where the body would be lifted off the trucks and placed on light shift trucks and moved to the various departments to be worked on. The large storeroom building was connected to the main building by underground corridors. When repairs were completed the car would go thru the paint booth. This operation took three days. The wheels and axles for the trucks were stored in the basement and were raised and lowered by heavy duty elevators. After a complete inspection the cars were ready for duty.
The Dummy Car. Just a nice streetcar
The center postcard above shows a steam-powered car often refered to as a "steam dummy". This card is showing the car crossing the bridge over Crawfish Creek, at what is now Mount Lookout Square. This line started at Pendleton Avenue and went to Mount Lookout along Crawfish Road (now known as Delta Avenue), around 1888. For more information on these cars click on the link on top.
Vine St. to Norwood cars Winton Place Millcreek Valley Line
Chester Park To Lockland
The streetcars shown in the first three cards were built in 1910. The car 1605 in the last image was built around 1905.
Car 1709, in the second image, was built in 1907 and it has a Norwood destination on top. The 3rd image shows a Madisonville car with a Chester Park destination. The last one shows car # 4561 shown in Toronto after being sold in 1950.
The 1st image above lists all the electric interurbans that came to Cincinnati. The second image is an article telling about the race that was held between a Red Devil and a plane.
The 1st image above is the interior of the streetcar that is on display at the Cincinnati Historical Museum. The 2nd photograph shows this streetcar #2435 on the last day of operation on its Clifton-Ludlow Route 61 in 1949.
Last Streetcar Run
On April 29, 1951 the last streetcar finished its run at 5:55 a. m. at the corner of Fifth and Vine Sts. The photograph above shows the Route 18 North Fairmount completing its "night owl" run with an electric trolley bus following behind to take over the route.
Last Day of Route
THE CINCINNATI SUBWAY
The proposed subway system that was never completed is a subject that I will expand on sometime in the future. The only postcard I have on the subject is this one. It shows the 1st ground level station that would have been reached after leaving the underground portion of the system. It was located on Marshall Avenue in Camp Washington.
Camp Washington station