This article, from The Street Railway Journal, February and March, 1894, describes street railway companies in Baltimore. I have pulled out some excerpts.


Fig. 1 -- Gilmore Street Cable Power Station -- Baltimore Traction Co.

Some important work in both cable and electric construction has been done by the Baltimore Traction Company during the past two years, and the mileage of the system has been largely increased by the absorption of other roads and the construction of new lines. Of the seventy-five miles of track now included in the system of this company, thirty-five miles are operated by electricity, fifteen miles by cable, and twenty-five miles by horses.

Fig. 2 -- View on Druid Hill Avenue -- Baltimore Traction Co.

The Druid Hill Avenue cable line, which has been in operation since May 23, 1891, was the first step towards rapid transit on the part of this company; in fact, it was virtually the beginning of rapid transit in Baltimore. The Gilmor Street cable line, which runs West from the center of the city and then North to Druid Hill Park, is built upon the same general plan as the first line, with some changes in the driving machinery. 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.

Fig. 5 -- Junction of Cable Lines -- Baltimore Traction Co.

The driving machinery is placed on the old floor level of the church, high enough above the street level to give abundant daylight in the lower part of the building. The engine room is 79 X 58 ft., the tension room is 51 X 72 ft., the boiler room is 41 X 104 ft., and the coal room is 41 X 47 ft. The machinery consists of two plain Corliss engines, 36 X 60 ins., built by the Corliss Steam Engine Company, of Providence, R. I., and driving gear for two ropes, built by the Robert Poole & Son Company. The steam plant consists of three batteries of two boilers each, room being left for an additional battery when required. All the steam piping and connections in the engine room are beneath the floor. Owing to the scant width of the building, one engine stands outside the original church wall in an extension, the twenty-four foot flywheel being inside the engine room, and clearing the arches of the roof by a scant inch. The two cables, 10,000 and 22,000 ft. in length, are driven at the same speed —eleven and a half miles—but each has its independent driving gear. A rope drive of twelve ropes is used, the driving pulleys being ten feet in diameter, and the driven wheels twenty-four feet. In this rope drive, Mr. Hambleton has introduced a device for equalizing the strain on the cables. Instead of driving the two twenty-four foot pulleys of each set of gears from a single ten foot pulley on the main engine shaft, the driving pulley is split and provided with a compensating gear on the order of the Whitton gear for cable drums. With this compensating gear on the rope drive, and the Walker differential cable drums, a complete equalization of the power is assured. The cable drums are thirteen feet six inches in diameter. The tension device, which was designed by the engineers of the company and the builders, the Robert Poole & Son Company, consists of the usual traveling carriage and weights rising and falling in a fifteen foot pit. The tail rope of the carriage passes over a fixed sheave at the extreme end of the run, through a sheave on the weight, and up again to a geared drum, by which any abnormal variations in the tension or length of the cable can be met. By this arrangement the entire length of the run is utilized and the somewhat limited space is used to the best advantage. This plant has capacity in excess of its present requirements, but it was designed with a view to future needs and possible extensions of the line.

The suburban lines of the Traction system form an interesting feature. The Pikesville line, which starts at the terminus of the cable lines at Druid Hill Park, follows the turnpike to Pikesville, a distance of about seven miles. This line was first changed from a horse road to a single track electric line in 1892, by E. D. Smith & Son, but soon afterwards it was double tracked for its entire length by E. Saxton. It is laid with fifty-six and fifty-eight pound T rails, from the Pennsylvania Steel Company, and is rock ballasted. Wooden center poles are used, and the overhead work is especially noteworthy, because of the care with which it was done. The roadbed, too, is in excellent condition, and the entire line is a good example of first class suburban construction. The line passes several race tracks and other resorts which furnish a heavy summer travel, and the country traversed promises to be the scene of important suburban development, a feature that has hitherto been almost wholly lacking in Baltimore. Lewis & Fowler sixteen foot cars are used on this line, with two twenty-five horse power Westinghouse motors to each car. When travel is heavy trailers are used. About midway on the line a double track spur runs to Arlington, a small suburb, and it is probable that the importance of the road will be largely increased by the construction of other feeders.


The Baltimore City Passenger Railway Company operates six different lines of railway, on three of which the cable has been introduced during the past two years, and the remaining lines are now being changed from horse to electric traction. The lines of this company tap the largest traffic producing sections of the city, and converge to the business center. Baltimore Street, the chief east and west thoroughfare of the city, is occupied by the cable lines of this company, and all of its lines touch or traverse this street within the space of a few blocks east and west of Charles Street. At the present time the three cable lines of this company are of the most interest, as they are complete and in regular operation, while horses are still in use on the other lines. The White line extends from Patterson Park to the east, through Baltimore Street to the center of the city, and then strikes away to Druid Hill Park on the northwest. The Red line extends from the western edge of the city east through Baltimore Street to the business center, and then strikes away to the northeast. The Blue line runs north and south from Baltimore Street to the northern limits, serving as a spur or feeder for the other two lines. Roughly speaking, the cable system of this company resembles the letter K with a third leg bisecting the obtuse angle. Free transfers between the lines of this company are given at intersecting points, thus giving a very comprehensive service.

Fig. 11 -- Interior of Eutaw Street Boiler House -- City Passenger Railway.

There are three power houses for the cable system of this company, one on Eutaw Street, 500 ft. south of Baltimore Street, one on East Baltimore Street, and one on North Charles Street. Three cables are driven from the Eutaw Street station, one operating the western division of the Red line on West Baltimore Street, one operating the northwestern end of the White line on Madison Avenue to Druid Hill Park, and a short rope on Baltimore Street east from Eutaw Street, through the crowded portion of the city, which is used by both the Red and White lines. The station is a handsome structure of red brick trimmed with Seneca sandstone, with a frontage of 110 ft. and a depth of 160 ft., and an L, 70 x 47 ft. The driving gear is from the Walker Manufacturing Company, and a rope drive is used to transmit the power from the main shaft to the drum shafts. The cable drums for the West Baltimore and Madison Avenue ropes are fourteen feet in diameter, these ropes running at a speed of eleven miles an hour. The Baltimore Street rope is driven from ten foot drums at a speed of six miles. The power is furnished by two Reynolds-Corliss compound, non-condensing engines, with cylinders 24 and 38 X 60 ins. Steam is supplied by Campbell & Zell water tube boilers which are fitted with Roney stokers. Upton tension carriages, similar to those used on the Washington & Georgetown road in Washington, D. C, are used here and in the other stations of this company. A winding drum for reeling old cables has just been set up in this station, and similar reels have been put in the other houses. It consists of a wooden spool driven by a small Lidgerwood hoisting engine, connected by gearing. The drum is placed in the tension run and is designed to take the old rope as it comes from the street.

This station stands 500 ft. from the line of the tracks on Baltimore Street, and the three cables are carried to Baltimore Street in a concrete tunnel, 5X5 ft., under Eutaw Street. The Baltimore Street rope runs up Eutaw Street across Baltimore Street, and comes back on the curve leading into Baltimore Street, being used in carrying the cars around the curve. The Madison Avenue rope goes straight up Eutaw Street to Madison Avenue, and the West Baltimore Street rope goes to the western terminus of the line without a curve. The slow Baltimore Street rope turns up Gay Street at its eastern end, the fast rope on that line being taken after the turn into Gay Street. The Madison Avenue rope has 80 ft. of 100 ft. radius curve, 440 ft. of 250 ft. radius, and 23,869 ft. of tangent, making a total length of 24,389 ft. The West Baltimore Street rope is 23,285 ft. long, without a curve. The Baltimore Street rope has 153 ft. of 40 ft. radius curve, 84 ft. of 60 ft. radius, 4 ft. of 250 ft. radius, and 8,454 ft. of tangent, making the total length 8,695 ft.

The Baltimore Street station is of the same general style, and its equipment is identical with that of the Eutaw Street house, except in point of size, as only two ropes are driven from the former. The engines are 22 and 36 x 60 ins., and the cable driving drums are 13 and 14 ft. in diameter. The 13 ft. drum drives the Gay Street cable at 9 miles an hour. This rope goes east on Baltimore Street to Gay, and thence up Gay. This rope has 1,000 ft. of curves of various radii—85 ft. of 60 ft., 195 ft. of 100 ft., 85 ft. of 175 ft., 635 ft. of 250 ft. radius, and 26,009 ft. of tangent, making a total of 27,009 ft. The East Baltimore Street rope, which runs east from this power house to Patterson Park, in East Baltimore, has a speed of 11 miles. Its curves are as follows: 203 ft. of 60 ft. radius, 105 ft. of 75 ft., 80 ft. of 100 ft., 45 ft. of 175 ft, 35 ft. of 200 ft., 230 ft. of 259 ft., and 13,234 ft. of tangent, making a total length of 13,932 ft.

The North Charles Street station is similar in construction to the other two. The driving gear in this station was supplied by the Robert Poole & Son Company, Walker differential drums being used. The engines have cylinders 20 and 30 x 60 ins. The steam plant and other fixtures are the same as used in the other stations already mentioned. Only one rope is driven from this house. It is driven from drums 8 ft. 6 ins. diameter, the speed being 9 1/2 miles. This station has a car house attached, 180 X 56 ft., with four plain tracks and two open for inspection. This division of the road has the largest amount of curves, the length of each radius being as follows: 442 ft. of 43 ft. radius, 151 ft. of 60 ft., 44 ft. of 100 ft., 70 ft. of 150 ft., 32 ft. of 175 ft., 250 ft. of 200 ft., 125 ft of 250 ft., and 22,294 ft. of tangent, a total length of 23,408 ft.

The track on the lines of this company is laid with seventy-five pound girder rails from the Pennsylvania Steel Company, a twenty-four inch splice with six bolts being used. Cast iron yokes are used, and the conduit is made of Portland cement concrete with a foundation of American cement for the pavement. The Red and White lines were built by E. D. Smith & Son, of Philadelphia, and the Blue line by E. Saxton, of Kansas City. Thirty-six inch pulleys are used on the curves, with spiral grooved pulleys wherever the rope has a tendency to ride high. On the fast ropes fourteen inch carrier sheaves are used and ten inch on the slow ropes.

Fig. 12 -- Hand Depressor, Cable Crossing -- City Passenger Railway.

One of the troublesome incidents of construction for the engineers of this road was the crossing of the cable lines of the Traction Company. There are five such crossings, the Traction Company having the upper rope at all but one. The North Charles Street line crosses the line of the Traction Company at Fayette Street. The cars of the Baltimore City Passenger Railway approach on the north side of this crossing with a rising grade of 2 per cent, and a curve of 250 ft. radius, the approach from the south side being on an up grade of 1 1/4 per cent. The worst crossing, however, is at the intersection of the Traction Company's tracks on Fayette Street and those of the White line on Eutaw Street. At this point there is a depression in the tracks of the Traction Company, which brings the cable of that line close to the top of the slot rail, and as the White line has the lower rope, the crossing presents two problems: First, to keep the Traction Company's rope permanently down from the slot, and, second, to depress it at the passage of the White line cars. The second problem is the usual one, and is met in the usual way by the use of a hand depressor of ordinary type. The high position of the upper rope brought it above the convenient point for contact with the pulley of the hand depressor, and necessitated the use of a special device designed by Chief Engineer Connett, of the Baltimore City Passenger Railway. The accompanying engravings show the construction of the hand depressor and the fixed depressing wheel, and with the following explanatory notes the working of the device will be apparent: East of the crossing there is an offset of four and three-quarters inches in the slots of the Traction Company's line, and a small depressor wheel is placed in the normal line of the Traction Company's cable at this point, which is fourteen feet from the center of the crossing. During the passage of a car the offset carries the grip clear of this depressing wheel, and after passing the cable returns to its place in the depressing sheave. The depressing wheel is 8 1/2 ins. in diameter, with a 5 1/2 in. face and 5/8 in. depth of groove. It is mounted on the end of a 1 15/16 in. steel spindle, 21 17/32 ins. long, running in boxes set on the top line of the yokes. This gives the cable a fixed position 11 ins. below the top of the slot and brings it within reach of the hand depressor. This device has worked without defect, and thus far the cable has never slipped the depressing wheel. The construction of the hand depressor is shown by the engraving.

Figs. 13 and 14. -- Section and Plan of Depressor -- City Passenger Railway.

The new rolling stock for the cable lines of this company consists of sixty-two open grip cars and the same number of sixteen foot closed trailers. Trains of two cars are run on all the lines, the termini having no loop, but straight tracks with two crossover switches. These cars were built by the J. G. Brill Company, and are of the pattern used in Washington, Cleveland, Chicago and other cities. The running gear was furnished by the Baltimore Car Wheel Company, and Whitney wheels are used. The cars are handsomely finished in mahogany, and are of tasteful design. Ten additional grip cars have recently been received from the John Stephenson Company, which are of similar pattern, and a number of the old horse cars formerly used by the company have been rebuilt for use as trailers. A double side-jaw grip, designed by the engineers of the railway company, is used. Reversible soft steel dies are used, the life being about twenty days. Roebling ropes are used on all the lines. The first set were Lang lay, but some ordinary lay were bought for the second set. Lang lay will be used throughout hereafter.

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