Cable Car Lines in the District of Columbia and Baltimore
by Joe Thompson

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Washington and Georgetown Railroad

Washington and Georgetown passing White House Cable Train on Pennsylvania Avenue, passing the White House (source: "The Washington & Georgetown Railroad Co.'s System Completed", Street Railway Journal, September, 1892.) July, 2014 Picture of the Month.

line: 7th Street

opened: 12-April-1890. Boundary Street (Now Florida Avenue NW) and 7th Street NW on 7th Street to Maine Avenue. Maine Avenue to P Street.

powerhouse: Maine Avenue and P Street

grip: Root single-jaw side grip

gauge: 4'8 1/2"

cars: single end, grip and trailer

terminals: crossovers

crossings:
Intersection Company Status
7th/MassachusettsCRysuperior
7th/PennsylvaniaWGRRsuperior

line: Pennsylvania Avenue (Georgetown)

opened: 06-August-1892. 8th Street SE and M Street at the Navy Yard on 8th Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. Pennsylvania Avenue SE to Independence Avenue SW. Independence Avenue SW to 1st Street NW. 1st Street NW to Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Pennsylvania Avenue NW to 26th Street NW. 26th Street NW to M Street NW. M Street NW to Wisconsin Avenue.

extended: 12-July-1895. M Street NW from Wisconsin Avenue to about 36th Street NW in Georgetown.

powerhouse: 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue

grip: Root single-jaw side grip

gauge: 4'8 1/2"

cars: single end, grip and trailer

terminals: crossovers, loop through building at M Street NW and about 36th Street NW.

crossings:
Intersection Company Status
Pennsylvania/7thWGRRinferior

line: 14th Street

opened: 06-August-1892. B&O Depot at New Jersey Avenue and C Street on C Street to 1st Street NW. 1st Street NW to Pennsylvania Avenue. Pennsylvania Avenue SE to 15th Street NW. 15th Street NW to New York Avenue NW. New York Avenue NW to 14th Street NW. 14th Street NW to Park Road NW.

powerhouse: 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue

grip: Double-jaw side grip

gauge: 4'8 1/2"

cars: single end, grip and trailer

terminals: crossovers, loop through building at M Street NW and about 36th Street NW.

crossings:
Intersection Company Status
Pennsylvania/7thWGRRinferior

notes:

The Washington and Georgetown Railroad built the city's first street railroad in 1862 to cope with the huge growth of population during the Civil War.

The company tried to get a charter to convert its lines from horse traction to cable in 1886, but Congress did not grant it until 1889. Engineer Daniel Bontecou, who had worked on cable railways in Kansas City, designed the Seventh Street line, which opened for business on 12-April-1890.

Washington Base Ball Club, 1897 Washington Base Ball Club, 1897 (source: Spalding's Base Ball Guide and Official League Book, 1898.)

The Seventh Street line had the advantage of a baseball park, Boundary Field, home of the National League Washington Senators/Nationals/Statesmen, being located near its Boundary Street terminal. This generated plenty of traffic. The Washington Statesmen had started in the American Association in 1891. When that league failed after that season, the team moved to the National League. The Senators/Nationals/Statesmen fell victim to the National League contraction from 12 to 8 teams in 1900. A new team, the Washington Nationals, later the Washington Senators, joined the new American League in 1901. After a dispute with the National League, the American League Washington Nationals, played in Boundary Field, renamed Nationals Park, until it burned in 1911. The new field built on the same site was Griffith Park. The Washington Senators team left Washington in 1960 to become the Minnesota Twins. A third team called the Washington Senators joined the American League as an expansion team in 1961. In 1971 they became the Texas Rangers. The current Washington team, launched in 2005 in the National League, is called the Washington Nationals.

In 1889, Congress passed an act requiring that District of Columbia street street railroads convert their horse traction lines to cable or electric traction within two years. Overhead wires were forbidden, and conduit electrification had not been successfully demonstrated, so the company used cable on its other two lines.

The Pennsylvania Avenue line ran from the Navy Yard to Georgetown. The line had to navigate through several curves and Washington Circle, which made it complicated and shortened cable life.

The 14th Street line used an auxillary cable, powered by the main cable, to reach the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Depot at New Jersey Avenue and C Street. Then it followed the Pennsylvania Avenue line to 15th Street. It turned up 15th rather than 14th because the horse car lines had gone that way to avoid a hill. 15th and New York was a an important transfer point.

The transition between the 14th Street cable and the outer Pennsylvania Avenue cable was complicated and cars had to use a gypsy to pick up the cable. The 14th Street line also had to navigate around Thomas Circle.

Both new lines opened on 06-August-1892. The Pennsylvania Avenue line was extended a few blocks in 1895, where a loop ran through the company's new office building. The loop is probably the reason the Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street lines use a double-jaw side grip.

In 1895, the Washington and Georgetown became part of the newly formed Capital Traction Company.

Washington and Georgetown 14th Street powerhouse The Washington and Georgetown 14th Street powerhouse. (source: "Notes From the Field/Washington, D. C.", Street Railway Journal, December, 1891.)

A fire on 29-September-1897 destroyed the 14th Street powerhouse, ending cable service immediately. The company leased every horse it could find and offerred service on the Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street lines using them until it could convert the lines to conduit electric operation. Both lines were converted by March, 1898.

The company then converted the Seventh Street line to conduit electric. Electric cars began running on 25-May-1898.

From Centennial History of the City of Washington, D. C., edited by Harvey W. Crew.

In 1862, it began to be hoped that the city would enjoy the privileges of a street railroad. The war was concentrating in and around Washington a population of nearly 200,000, including the encampments. Officers and men complained of the inconveniences of moving about from one part of the city to another. There were but few hacks, and they could not be obtained except at a rate of $2 per hour, or for a visit to the camps, even within the city limits, without making a $10 job of it. An act incorporating this company was approved May 17, 1862, and books for the subscription of stock were opened May 23. The name of the company thus incorporated was the Washington and Georgetown Railroad Company. By this charter the capital stock was required to be not less than $300,000 nor more than $500,000, and the Bank of Washington was selected as the depository of its funds. E. Kingman was chosen president, and J. J Coombs secretary. Of the 6,000 shares of stock issued, 1,327 were taken in Washington, 42 in Georgetown, and the rest mainly in New York and Philadelphia. But in the apportionment of directors, four were given to the District of Columbia, two to Philadelphia, and one to New York. Work on the road was immediately commenced, and by August 13 it was completed to Georgetown, with the exception of a small piece across the aqueduct bridge over Rock Creek, and there were fifteen cars running as far as the Circle, in connection with omnibuses to Georgetown, at five cents from one end of the line to the other. October 2, 1862, the cars commenced running to the Navy Yard, and then the whole line was in operation from the Navy Yard to Georgetown. The line down Seventh Street to the river was completed November 14, 1862.

The Seventh Street road was changed to a cable road May 1, 1890. The plant by which the cable is propelled is situated on Square No. 504, between Water and Four and a Half streets, and fronting on the Arsenal. In this power house are two engines, each of two hundred and fifty horse-power, but capable of developing five hundred horsepower each. The legislation under which this cable road was built was permissive only, but in 1890 Congress passed a supplemental act requiring the entire system of the Washington and Georgetown Railroad to be operated by cable or electricity, and the change to be completed in two years from the passage of the act. Under this legislation, which was really unnecessary, as the company intended to change from horse power to the cable system, the change to the cable system is now in progress, and will be completed within the time required by law, which expires August 6, 1892. The power house in which the machinery will be located is being erected on Square No. 255, between Thirteen and a Half and Fourteenth streets, and D and E streets Northwest. The estimated cost of the machinery to be erected in this building is $150,000. There will be two seven hundred and fifty horse-power engines, and eight one hundred and eighty-four horse-power boilers. The total length of the cable road belonging to this company will, when completed, be eleven miles of double track, and the entire cost of the change is estimated at $3,500,000.

Washington and Georgetown Navy Yard Carbarn The Washington and Georgetown Navy Yard Carbarn. (source: "Notes From the Field/Washington, D. C.", Street Railway Journal, December, 1891.)

Washington and Georgetown Navy Yard Carbarn The Washington and Georgetown Navy Yard Carbarn. Google Maps Streetview Image updated May 2012. Copyright 2014 Google.

Washington and Georgetown Trailer Washington and Georgetown "Open Trail (Trailer) Cable Car." (source: Street Railways: Their Construction, Operation and Maintenance by CB Fairchild).

E Saxton An ad for cable and electric railway contractor Edmund Saxton, who built the tracks and conduits for the Washington and Georgetown's lines. From the October, 1895 Street Railway Journal.


The Washington & Georgetown Cable System.

From The Street Railway Journal, January, 1891. Volume VII, Number 1.

The preliminary work of building this system has been begun and engineers are employed in making the surveys and plans. The chief engineer is Mr. Daniel Bontecou, the engineer who built the Seventh Street line. It is expected the road will be in operation in the early Spring.

The new line will be the entire distance along Pennsylvania Avenue from Georgetown to the Navy Yard, and up Fourteenth Street to Mount Pleasant, which is a distance of six and a half miles with many curves. The Seventh Street line will be crossed at its intersection by Pennsylvania Avenue. At the present time the material needed for the construction of the road is being collected so that when actual work is begun there need be no delay.

The track will be composed of eighty-pound grooved girder rails, of which 3,000 tons will be necessary. This is in addition to the slot rails which weigh sixty-three pounds to the yard. There will be 2,500 tons of castings. which include the iron yokes, manhole frames, covers, etc. There will also be required 25,000 bbls. of Portland cement, 20,000 cu. yds. of broken stone and 15,000 cu. yds. of sand.

The entire cost of this improvement as estimated by the engineers will be about $3,000,000.

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A Paying Train.

From The Street Railway Journal, April, 1892. Volume VIII, Number 4.

Washington and Georgetown crowds
LOADED FOR BASE BALL, SEVENTH STREET, WASHINGTON.

Street railway managers who complain about the general dullness of business, should glance at the accompanying engraving which is from an actual photograph, and which shows that some roads sometimes carry paying loads. The view shows a cable railway train on the Washington & Georgetown Cable Railway going north on Seventh Street, loaded with passengers bound for a ball game, and was taken last summer. The building in the background is the United States Patent Office. The single car shown in the engraving as turning the corner is an Edco storage battery car, on the Eckington & Soldiers' Home Railway.

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Columbia Railway

Fig. 2 -- Grip Car -- Columbia Railway Co. Columbia Railway grip car (source: "Completion of the Cable System of the Columbia Railway, Washington, D. C.", Street Railway Journal, April, 1895.) August, 2014 Picture of the Month.

line: Main

opened: 09-March-1895. New York Avenue NW and 15th Street NW on New York Avenue NW to Masssachusetts Avenue NW. Masssachusetts Avenue NW to H Street NW. H Street NW to H Street NE. H Street NE to 15th Street NE and Florida Avenue NE.

powerhouse: H Street NE and 15th Street NE

grip: Single-jaw side grip

gauge: 4'8 1/2"

cars: single end, single truck. "The car equipment consists of twenty closed cars, twenty foot bodies, thirty feet over all, four wheel trucks, nine foot wheel base, thirty inch wheels; and twenty open cars; total length of thirty feet... The John Stephenson Company, Ltd., of New York, furnished the cars complete, with the exception of the grips which were supplied by Campbell & Zell, of Baltimore... The cars themselves are copies of the Broadway cars, but are two feet shorter. The bodies are painted blue, ornamented with nickel." (source: "Completion of the Cable System of the Columbia Railway, Washington, D. C.", Street Railway Journal, April, 1895.)

terminals: crossovers

crossings:
Intersection Company Status
7th/MassachusettsWGRRinferior

notes:

The Columbia Railway hesitated to convert from horse to cable traction in 1895, hoping to use electric traction, but conduit electrification had not been successfully demonstrated. The company's line opened with cable traction, which opened on 09-March-1895, was the last new cable line built in the United States.

William Upton designed the line. The track and trench construction was carried out by the well known cable contractor, Edmund Saxton of Washington, D. C., who supplied all materials and labor.

In 1899, the Washington Traction and Electric Company, which operated a conduit electric line on Ninth Street, purchased the Columbia Railway. The line switched to conduit electric operation on 23-July-1899.

From Centennial History of the City of Washington, D. C., edited by Harvey W. Crew.

The Columbia Street Railroad Company was organized under a charter granted May 24, 1871, with the following board of directors and officers: J. G. McKelden, president; William H. Clagett, secretary; George H. B. White, cashier of the National Metropolitan Bank, treasurer, and Alexander R. Shepherd, Hon. A. M. Clapp, N. B. Fugitt, Colonel S. S. Smoot, and M. M. Rohrer. The route of this company commences at Fifteenth Street and New York Avenue; thence along this avenue to K Street; then past the old Northern Liberties Market on the south side; then down Massachusetts Avenue to H Street, and then on H Street to the tollgate, a distance of nearly three miles. Originally a single track was laid, with turn-outs, but in October, 1871, it was decided to construct a double track, which was completed in March, 1872. The cost of the road, as a doubletrack road, together with nine cars, forty horses, land, and stables, was $99,971.19. The present equipment of the road consists of one hundred and forty-four horses, sixteen two-horse summer cars, and sixteen two-horse winter cars. It is designed to change to an exclusively mechanical equipment as soon as practicable.

from Notes From the Field/Washington, D. C.

The Street Railway Journal December, 1891

The Columbia Railroad Co

still operate their lines with one horse cars, as do also the Capitol & North O Street company. The officers of both companies are looking carefully into the different systems of mechanical traction, but find themselves in a very embarrassing position, for the reason that they cannot adopt the cable system, as the patronage of each line is less than 15,000 people a day, the lowest limit that will warrant the introduction of cable, and, besides, they are prohibited by Congress from putting up overhead wires. The law, as it now stands, requires that the electric roads in operation in the District of Columbia must remove their wires, and the law also specifies that two of the compaies, the Washington & Georgetown and the Metropolitan, shall adopt mechanical traction,which they are proceeding to do. It is also expected that future legislation will require all the lines to do the same thing.

We are informed by Mr. W. J. Stephenson, president of the Columbia Railroad Co., that the roads now operating by horse power will probably unite in a petition to Congress during the coming session asking for the repeal of the law prohibiting overhead wires. In this matter the companies in the District of Columbia will need the sympathy and influence of other electric lines operating throughout the country. In fact, the influence that will shape legislation in this direction must come from outside the District, as local influence counts but little with the average congressman. It is hoped that street railway officials who are successfully operating by electricity will come to the aid of their fellows in Washington, by using their influence with the congressmen from their districts, and educate them in the advantages of electric traction, while they remove the prejudices against overhead wires. When congressmen understand the situation, they will doubtless be willing to modify or change the present requirements.

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Baltimore Traction Company

Baltimore Traction Car 8 Baltimore Traction Company Car 8 "Vestibuled Cable Car." Andrew Whitton used this style of double-truck closed cars on his lines in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. (source: Street Railways: Their Construction, Operation and Maintenance by CB Fairchild). May, 2014 Picture of the Month.

line: Druid Hill Avenue

opened: 23-May-1891. North Patterson Park Avenue and East Baltimore Street on East Baltimore Street to South Ann Street. South Ann Street to East Pratt Street. East Pratt Street to South Exeter Street. South Exeter Street to East Lombard Street. East Lombard Street to South Street. South Street to East Fayette Street. East/West Fayette Street to North Paca Street. North Paca Street to Druid Hill Avenue. Druid Hill Avenue to North Fulton Avenue. Balloon loop at North Fulton Avenue. Return: Loop at Druid Hill Avenue and North Fulton Avenue. Druid Hill Avenue to North Paca Street. North Paca Street to West Fayette Street. West/East Fayette Street to South Howard Street. South Howard Street to East Lombard Street. East Lombard Street to South Exeter Street. South Exeter Street to East Pratt Street. East Pratt Street to North Patterson Park Avenue. North Patterson Park Avenue to East Baltimore Street.

powerhouse: East Pratt Street and South Central Avenue

powerhouse: Druid Hill Avenue and Retreat Street

grip: Root single-jaw side grip

gauge: 5'4 1/2"

cars: single end, double truck closed cars

terminals: loops

crossings:
Intersection Company Status
Pratt/BroadwayBCPRysuperior
Fayette/CalvertBCPRyinferior
Fayette/HowardBCPRysuperior
North Howard/West BaltimoreBTRsuperior
South/East BaltimoreBCPRysuperior

line: Gilmor Street

opened: 30-August-1892. East Fayette Street and South Street on East/West Fayette Street to North Gilmor Street. North Gilmor Street to Cumberland Street. Cumberland Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. Pennsylvania Avenue to Retreat Street. Retreat Street to Francis Street. Francis Street to North Fulton Avenue. North Fulton Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue. Return: Pennsylvania Avenue and Fulton Avenue on Pennsylvania Avenue to Cumberland Street. Cumberland Street to North Gilmor Street. North Gilmor Street to West Fayette Street. West/East Fayette Street to South Howard Street. South Howard Street to East Lombard Street. East Lombard Street to South Street. South Street to East Fayette Street.

powerhouse: East Pratt Street and South Central Avenue

powerhouse: Epworth Powerhouse. North Gilmor Street and Mosher Street.

grip: Root single-jaw side grip

gauge: 5'4 1/2"

cars: single end, double truck closed cars and single end, grip and trailer

terminals: loops

crossings:
Intersection Company Status
Fayette/CalvertBCPRyinferior
Fayette/HowardBCPRysuperior
North Howard/West BaltimoreBTRsuperior
South/East BaltimoreBCPRysuperior

notes: Cable traction did not arrive in Baltimore until 1891, after all other US cities except Tacoma. In 1885, Professor Leo Daft (no kidding) equipped a horse car line of the Baltimore Union Passenger Railway with a third-rail powered system of electric traction. The Baltimore and Hampden line ran from the outskirts of Baltimore through the suburb, now neighborhood, of Hampden. This line, like Professor Daft's installations in Newark and Los Angeles, was not a success, being converted back to animal traction. As with Daft's installations in Los Angeles and Newark, the Baltimore and Hampden may have inspired street railway executives to use cable traction instead of electric.

From "The Electric Motor And Its Applications", Scribner's Magazine, March, 1888.

The first electric street railway established in America for actual service was on a suburban line two miles in length extending from Baltimore to Hampden, Md. It had previously been operated by animal power, and was cheaply and roughly constructed, having sharp curves, and grades as high as 330 feet per mile. This line has been continuously operated by electricity since September 1, 1885. The electric current is conveyed by an insulated rail fixed to the ties midway between the traffic rails. The electrical machinery was designed and constructed by Leo Daft, of Jersey City, N. J. The results of the change of motive power were highly gratifying to the management, inasmuch as the receipts of the line were largely increased during the first year, while on the other hand, the expense of operation was diminished, and this in spite of the fact that the application was made under exceptionally unfavorable circumstances. The success of this undertaking went far to demonstrate the advantages of electricity as a street-car motor.

From "Later History of Electricity", The New England Magazine, April, 1891.

In 1883, Mr. Leo Daft conducted several successful experiments in electric railroading, and in 1885 he built at Baltimore a road which carried the regular traffic of the Hampden branch of the Baltimore Union Passenger Railway Company for nearly five years.

Druid Hill Park Baltimore Traction Company cable car and Baltimore City Passenger Railway at the entrance to Druid Hill Park. (source: "The New Electric Equipment of the Baltimore City Passenger Railway", Street Railway Journal, September, 1894.)

The Baltimore Traction Company chose to use cable traction to replace horse cars on its Druid Hill Avenue line. This line was an excellent traffic generator, having a large park at each terminal and downtown in the center.

The Widener-Elkins company, which had built the Philadelphia Traction Company's awful cable car lines, used the same engineer, Andrew D Whitton. In Baltimore, Widener chose to use a Root side grip instead of the top grips that Widener-Elkins had favored in Philadelphia, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

The great number of curves and loops made the Druid HIll Avenue line difficult to operate and hard on cables.

Despite that, the company converted its Gilmor Street line to cable, opening on 30-August-1892. To save money, the company built a powerhouse in the former Epworth Methodist Church at Gilmor and Mosher Streets. The building was altered very little, retaining its rose window, choir loft and chandelier.

The Gilmor Street line was even harder to operate than the original line because it shared the downtown loop with the Druid Hill Avenue line. Gilmor cars turning from Lombard Street to South Street had to drop the rope and pick it up around the corner. The distance was too far to travel by momentum, so the company used a team of horses to help the cars reach the pick up point. This was very expensive and it caused the company to convert the line to electric traction just three years later, on 03-March-1895. The Druid Hill Avenue line was converted to electric traction on 04-October-1896.

from Notes From the Field/Baltimore.

The Street Railway Journal December, 1891

The Baltimore Traction Co.

The Cable-line of the Baltimore Traction Co., which has been in operation since last May, is enjoying a very lucrative traffic, and in most particulars is operating to the satisfaction of the management. Large cars are employed which are mounted upon double trucks and weigh about 17,000 lbs., loaded. An effort was madeto operate on a two minute headway, and in busy hours with a trail car, but this has been found to be impracti. cable, and the long cars only are being run and these on a three minute headway.

We learned that at the Druid Hill power house the rope drive is giving excellent satisfaction, that there is yet no perceptible wear upon the cotton ropes and that onlyone wire rope had been replaced, it having been in operation about four months. There being a good many turns in the line the grip shanks wear rapidly and the grip dies do not have a very long life.

From "The Electric Railway", The Electrical World, June 20, 1896.

BALTIMORE, MD.-- The application of the Traction Company for a permit to erect trolley poles along the route of the Druid Hill Avenue Cable Line has been granted.

Read "The Baltimore Cable Line", Street Railway Journal, March, 1891, about the Baltimore Traction Company.

Read "The Transformation of Baltimore", Street Railway Journal, March, 1894, about the Baltimore Traction Company and the Baltimore City Passenger Railway.

Baltimore Traction Pratt and Central Powerhouse/1 The Baltimore Traction Company's East Pratt Street and South Central Avenue Powerhouse was still standing in 2012. Google Maps Streetview Image updated October 2012. Copyright 2014 Google.

Baltimore Traction Pratt and Central Powerhouse/2 An aerial view of the Baltimore Traction Company's East Pratt Street and South Central Avenue Powerhouse. Copyright 2014 Google.

Baltimore Traction Druid Hill Powerhouse The Baltimore Traction Company had a beautiful powerhouse at Druid Hill Avenue and Retreat Street. "The power house, Fig. 4, is one of the finest structures of the kind in the country, and extends 264 ft. on Druid Hill Avenue and about the same diance on Retreat Street. The style is a modified Romanesque. The material is dark red brick, with red joints, trimmed with Richmond granite. The cornices are of copper, and the roofing terra cotta tiles. The floor and wainscot of the engine room are of oak, while the boiler room and vaults have a concrete floor, and the coal room is paved with Belgian blocks." (source: "The Baltimore Cable Line", Street Railway Journal, March, 1891.)

Baltimore Traction Druid Hill and Retreat Powerhouse The Druid Hill Avenue and Retreat Street powerhouse was destroyed in a fire on 14-Jan-2005. The building still standing in 2014 was an adjoining car barn. Note the foundations extending to the corner. Google Maps Streetview Image updated March 2012. Copyright 2014 Google.

Baltimore Traction Druid Hill and Retreat Sign There is a Baltimore Traction Company sign over the main doorway of the car barn at Druid Hill Avenue and Retreat Street. Google Maps Streetview Image updated March 2012. Copyright 2014 Google.

Baltimore Traction Druid Hill and Retreat Remains Next to the car barn at Druid Hill Avenue and Retreat Street is a fragment of the cable powerhouse, which was destroyed in a fire on 14-Jan-2005. Google Maps Streetview Image updated March 2012. Copyright 2014 Google.

Baltimore Traction Epworth Powerhouse The Baltimore Traction Company had a powerhouse in a converted Methodist Church at North Gilmor Street and Mosher Street. "The strictly unique feature of the Gilmor Street line is its power house, the 'Epworth' power station, as it is called from the fact that the machinery is installed in what was formerly the Epworth Methodist church, at the corner of Gilmor and Mosher Streets. As this vacant church seemned to be the only property obtainable for the purpose, it was decided to transform it into a power station. The spire still stands, there is a great circular stained glass window in the front wall, and the chandeliers, gallery, etc. are undisturbed. A boiler house of the same style of architecture adjoins the church building, and an extension in the rear contains the tension run. Francis H. Hambleton, the chief engineer of the Traction Company, found it no simple problem to get the driving machinery inside the church walls, but he did it nevertheless, and the plant has been running smoothly for nearly a year and a half." (source: "THE TRANSFORMATION OF BALTIMORE", Street Railway Journal, March, 1894.)

Baltimore Traction site of Epworth Powerhouse The Epworth powerhouse survived until the 1970s. I think it was replaced by this large residential building. Google Maps Streetview Image updated September 2012. Copyright 2014 Google.

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Baltimore City Passenger Railway

line: Charles Street (Blue Line)

opened: 23-July-1893. South Calvert Street and East Baltimore Street on South/North Calvert Street to East Read Street. East Read Street to North Charles Street. North Charles Street to East North Avenue. East North Avenue to Saint Paul Street. Saint Paul Street to East 25th Street.

powerhouse: North Charles Street between East Lafayette Avenue and East Lanvale Street (1711 North Charles)

grip: Connett double-jaw side grip

gauge: 5'4 1/2"

cars: double end, grip and trailer trains

terminals: crossovers

crossings:
Intersection Company Status
Calvert/FayetteBTRsuperior

line: Gay Street (Red Line)

opened: 23-July-1893. West Baltimore Street and North Franklintown Road on West Baltimore Street to North Gay Street. North Gay Street to North Avenue. Return divert on Ashland Avenue and Ensor Street back to North Gay Street. The streets in the Ashland/Ensor/Gay area have been renamed and realigned.

powerhouse: East Baltimore Street and East Street (1100 East Baltimore)

powerhouse: South Eutaw Street near Cider Alley

grip: Connett double-jaw side grip

gauge: 5'4 1/2"

cars: double end, grip and trailer trains

terminals: crossovers

crossings:
Intersection Company Status
West Baltimore/North HowardBTRinferior
East Baltimore/SouthBTRinferior

line: Madison Avenue (White Line)

opened: 20-August-1893. Madison Avenue and Druid Hill Park on Madison Avenue to North Howard Street. North Howard Street to West Baltimore Street. West/East Baltimore Street to South Broadway. South Broadway to Bank Street. Bank Street to South Patterson Park Avenue.

powerhouse: East Baltimore Street and East Street (1100 East Baltimore)

powerhouse: South Eutaw Street near Cider Alley

grip: Connett double-jaw side grip

gauge: 5'4 1/2"

cars: double end, grip and trailer trains

terminals: crossovers

crossings:
Intersection Company Status
Broadway/PrattBTRinferior
East Baltimore/SouthBTRinferior
West Baltimore/North HowardBTRinferior
North Howard/FayetteBTRinferior

notes: The horse-powered Baltimore City Passenger Railway lost business when rival Baltimore Traction Company implemented cable traction. The City Passenger Railway wanted to use electric traction, but there was great prejudice against electric power. The company was forced to use cable traction at a time when companies in other cities were switching from horse or cable to electric traction.

from Notes From the Field/Baltimore.

The Street Railway Journal December, 1891

I thought this part was particularly interesting in showing the difficulties cable traction builders had to deal with:
There being no system of sewerage in Baltimore, it is necessary for the cable lines to provide mains and cesspools for the drainage of the conduit. A good deal of expense is also entailed in putting in drain pipes at the street crossings in order to conduct the gutter drainage under the conduit, for otherwise it would be flooded wherever a depression occurs in the line.

Baltimore.

The City Passenger Railway Co. have their plans and drawings nearly completed for changing a portion of their system, embracing twenty-five miles of single track, to cable traction. What are known as their White and Red lines will be cabled the coming season, and the Blue line the following season.

Work on the street construction will be begun in the early spring, the force being now employed -in providing proper drainage facilities. There being no system of sewerage in Baltimore, it is necessary for the cable lines to provide mains and cesspools for the drainage of the conduit. A good deal of expense is also entailed in putting in drain pipes at the street crossings in order to conduct the gutter drainage under the conduit, for otherwise it would be flooded wherever a depression occurs in the line. The plans have been made under the direction of Mr. A. N. Connett, chief engineer of the company.

The street construction will be similar to that adopted in Washington, but the conduit will be thirty-eight inches deep in the clear. The driving plant will be modelled after the same design, rope drive, both drums driven. The power houses are to be erected at once, one at the corner of Eutaw and Lombard Streets, from which three ropes will be driven, the other on the corner of Baltimore and East Streets, from which two ropes will operate. The engines will be two thirty by sixty inches in one house, and two thirty-two by sixty inches in the other.

The track will be laid with seventy-five pound, side bearing girder rails having two inch head and a three inch tram. The contract for the rails has been let to the Pennsylvania Steel Co., and the contract to furnisli the slot rails has been let to the Cambria Iron Co., Johnstown, Pa. Contracts for the power equipment and street construction have not yet been let. The rails will be laid with suspended joints having six bolt fish plates. The curve pulleys are to be thirty six inches in diameter, with wrought spokes. The carrying pulleys are to be of cast iron, fourteen inches in diameter. The line will be operated with grip cars and trailers. A modified form of the Root grip will be employed, the upper jaw being moved, and the cable taken on either side.

The bottoms of the pulley vaults are on a level with the bottom of the conduit, so that the drainage will flow uninterrupted to the outlets. By this arrangement the conduit is readily cleaned and the liability of the drains being obstructed by solid matter, as is the case with supplemental drainage, is avoided. The conduit is constructed without a steel lining, such as were employed on the Traction company's li nes. In the opinion of the engineer, the lining does not assist in supporting the concrete walls, but soon rusts out, and by discarding it an outlay of nearly $15,000 per mile of double track is saved. The pulley vault covers of the new construction are only about eighteen inches square, and will be carefully cast to fit firmly in their frames, and will not be liable to tilt and rattle by the passage of vehicles as is the case with large covers.

AN Connett

The company's cable lines were designed by chief engineer AN Connett.

The Blue Line (Charles Street) served the Calvert Street Station of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Union Ballpark at 25th Street and Barclay Street, home of the National League Baltimore Orioles. These were the Old Orioles of John McGraw and Hughie Jennings.

The White Line (Madison Avenue), paralleled the Traction Company's Druid Hill Avenue line, running between Druid Hill Park and Patterson Park.

The Baltimore City Passenger Railway's cable lines did not last for long. The company sued the city for the right to convert to electric traction. The Blue line first carried electric cars on 06-June-1897 and the cable was stopped in early 1898. The White line saw electric cars on 28-June-1898 and the Red on 30-August-1898. Both conversions were finished on 23-March-1899.

Baltimore City Passenger Railway car 129, a horse car built by John Stephenson about 1880, is preserved at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum

Read "The New Cable Plant of the Baltimore City Passenger Railway", Street Railway Journal, September, 1893, about the Baltimore City Passenger Railway's three powerhouses.

Read "The Transformation of Baltimore", Street Railway Journal, March, 1894, about the Baltimore Traction Company and the Baltimore City Passenger Railway.

Baltimore City Passenger Railway Charles Street Powerhouse/0 "The Charles Street power house, shown in Fig. 1, is a one story brick building with Seneca sandstone trimmings. Its dimensions are 180 x 125 ft. over all. The building is thoroughly fireproof, with iron truss roof and angle iron purlines to which the slate roof is attached." (source: "The New Cable Plant of the Baltimore City Passenger Railway.", Street Railway Journal, September, 1893.)

Baltimore City Passenger Railway Charles Street Powerhouse/1 The Baltimore City Passenger Railway Charles Street Powerhouse is now the Charles Theatre at 1711 North Charles Street. Google Maps Streetview Image updated August 2012. Copyright 2014 Google.

Baltimore City Passenger Railway Charles Street Powerhouse/2 Another view of the former Charles Street Powerhouse. Google Maps Streetview Image updated August 2012. Copyright 2014 Google.

Baltimore City Passenger Railway East Baltimore Street Powerhouse/1 The Baltimore City Passenger Railway East Baltimore Street Powerhouse was the Hendler Creamery at 1100 East Baltimore Street. Google Maps Streetview Image updated August 2012. Copyright 2014 Google.

from EQUIPMENT NOTES.

The Street Railway Journal March, 1892

Mr. H. S. Farquhar, connected with the engineering department of the Baltimore City Passenger Railway Co., has recently been in New York inspecting the work of the Broadway and Third Avenue cable lines. Mr. Farquhar confirms the report that the above company have decided to cable their Blue Line during the coming season, in addition to the work already under way. This will require two additional power houses, and will make an aggregate of twenty-six miles of cable construction.

The Walker Mfg. Co., of Cleveland, have secured the entire contract for the cable driving machinery for both stations of the Baltimore City Pass. Ry. Co., including five sets of machinery, in all of which the Walker differential winding drums will be employed. The same company have also secured a sub-contract from the Otis Bros. Elevator Co. for the Catskill Mountain cable road. Length of incline, 7,000 ft.; elevation, 1,580 ft.

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