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Alhambra-San Gabriel Line


The Alhambra-San Gabriel Line was the first Huntington-built interurban line of the Northern District, and it was also the first such line to be abandoned.  It was also the only interurban line of the North never to enjoy steel cars.

The Alhambra-San Gabriel Line served a territory, which was urban in nature from Los Angeles to a point beyond Alhambra, and suburban to its terminus at Temple City.



From 6th & Main station, Los Angeles, the Alhambra Line followed the same route as the Pasadena Short Line as far as Sierra Vista (MP 7.43).  At this point it turned onto its own double-track line and ran east on private way paralleling Main Street to a point near Palm Avenue (MP 8.21) where a single-track branch line turned south on private way to a connection with Southern Pacific’s main line east at Mission Road (MP 9.10).  From the West Alhambra Station (MP 8.21) the main line continued east on double-track in the center of Main Street through the business district of Alhambra, crossing the Southern Pacific Pasadena branch at MP 8.38.  At Mission Street Junction (MP 10.42) double track ended; here the San Gabriel service turned south, looping back to rejoin the Main Street line at Shorb Road Junction. (MP 11.5).  Single track continued through East San Gabriel (MP 12.1) to its terminus at Temple City (MP 14.67).

In Los Angeles, Alhambra trains entered via San Pedro Street and left via Main Street.



Construction of the Alhambra Line began on October 1901 by the Los Angeles & Pasadena Electric Railway, predecessor of Pacific Electric.  The line was opened on June 21, 1902, with cars of the LA&P 90 Class running through to the General Hospital, Los Angeles, on a thirty-minute schedule; this was the first standard-gauge interurban operation in Southern California.  The terminus of the line at this time was the San Gabriel Mission; shortly thereafter it was extended to the Masonic Home.  In 1904 the Dolgeville branch was built by the Los Angeles Inter-urban (Pacific Electric’s affiliate); it tapped the SP main line at Shorb and was intended to supply the large felt factory and model manufacturing town then being vigorously promoted by Huntington and Dolge.  The felt factory did not prove successful and this branch served to bridge SP passengers from Pasadena to Shorb from 1912 until April 16, 1924 when a bus took over.  However, some industries were located along this branch and were served by Pacific Electric freight trains until abandonment of the North in 1951.  At this time the branch was sold to the Southern Pacific.  Continued settlement of the territory to the east of San Gabriel resulted in the extension of the main line from the Masonic Home to Temple City; this extension was opened on July 29, 1924.

Pacific Electric’s 1940 modernization program included the Alhambra Line.  Permission to abandon rail service was obtained and the final run inbound was made by cars, 1051 and 1020 on November 29, 1941, leaving Temple City at 11:25 PM.  Final outbound run left Los Angeles at 12:20 AM with car 1015 carrying the last interurban passenger, witnesses to the passing of an era.  Trackage between Sierra Vista and West Alhambra was retained for freight service; this was abandoned on September 30, 1951.



Throughout its life, this line operated as an independent, all trains operating through to Los Angeles, except for relatively short periods when it absorbed the Sierra Vista Line, the Alhambra Line operated limited between Sierra Vista and Los Angeles.  As of 1938, 41 schedules left Los Angeles for Alhambra, 22 of which passed through San Gabriel Mission and 37 of which went through to Temple City, daily except Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday 34 trips left Los Angeles, 18 via the Mission and 22 to Temple City.  Two trips outbound in the evening rush ran limited from Sierra Vista to Mission Street Junction, making stops only at Atlantic Boulevard and Garfield Avenue; daily except Saturday and Sunday.  On Sunday 34 trips left Los Angeles, 18 via the Mission, 22 to Temple City making stops only at Atlantic Boulevard and Garfield Avenue; daily except Saturday and Sunday the rear car of these limiteds was cut off at Sierra Vista, running as a local to Shorb Junction.  The limiteds made the run of 14.67 miles in 46 minutes; regular trains averaged 52 minutes, although alternate cars routed via the Las Tunas Cutoff instead of via the San Gabriel Mission saved two minutes.  Single-track operation between Mission Street Junction and Temple City was governed by double light circuits between Mission Street Junction and Shorb Road Junction via the Mission, and between Mission Street Junction and Shorb Road Junction via Las Tunas Drive; between Shorb Road Junction and East San Gabriel, and between East San Gabriel and Temple City.  Automatic block signals were located between Mission Road and Sierra Vista.  When trains met at Shorb Junction, the inbound train took the siding, using the track on Las Tunas Drive.  Outbound trains using Las Tunas cutoff after stopping at Mission Street Junction, before entering single track, conductor lined the switch for the cutoff and took a position on the inbound main route for the purpose of flagging inbound trains before his train started.  Inbound trains using Las Tunas Cutoff after stopping at Mission Street Junction, motorman had to look, and if no train could be seen approaching inbound from the Mission and no outbound train within a thousand feet, he could proceed under control until he cleared single track.  In case of fog, a flagman was required to precede the car.  Three AM rush trains originated at Shorb Road Junction daily except Sunday.  Conductors were required to flag from the Oil Spur or Siding where cars were stored overnight to the junction with train following at a distance of not less than a thousand feet



1913:   1,623,777    Passengers

1916:   1,967,014    Passengers

1918:   1,394,030    Passengers

1923:   1,616,378    Passengers

1928:   1,522,363    Passengers

1933:      934,629    Passengers

1938:   1,063,529    Passengers



This excursion operated from 1903 until October 1, 1923.  It visited San Gabriel, Pasadena, Glendora and South Pasadena---“The World’s Winter Paradise.”



The LA&P 90 Class was succeeded almost immediately in 1902 by the Old Pacific Electric 200 Class (500 Class after 1911) and these gave way to Old Pacific Electric 300s (800s) in 1905.  In 1911 500s took over, succeeded in 1918 by the 450-465s; these were followed in 1925 by the 800s.  In 1937 the 1000 Class (1050s) gave this line its last equipment.  Combination cars of the 1300 Class were assigned to certain schedules throughout the later years.



The 15 cars required by this line were stored overnight as follows:

Alhambra 4, San Gabriel 4, East San Gabriel 5, Los Angeles2

Storage was in the open, no car house ever having been built on this line.  The two Southern Pacific crossings, due to extremely light traffic, required no interlocker.  Substation No. 52, located at Las Tunas & Acacia (near Shorb Road Junction.) was built in 1927, replacing an older substation at the Pacific Electric Alhambra Station; the new sub contained an automatic synchronous converter of 1000 kw. capacity.  The original Pacific Electric Station in Alhambra was located on Main Street near Garfield Avenue.  It had a small freight yard as well as a waiting room for passengers.  The growth of the city made this property too valuable to be maintained after 1937 and it was removed.  Freight activities were removed to a small station in West Alhambra at Main Street & Raymond Avenue, built in 1927.  The only bridge built of size on the line was located at Eaton Wash, between East San Gabriel and Temple City.  This was a single track steel and wood structure on private way.



In 1938 a daily freight train served Alhambra and the Shorb branch.  This train started from the Glendora, Sierra Madre and Alhambra lines, hauling it to State Street; it then picked up outbound loads for these same lines, completing its work at 7:00 AM at Glendora.  The Alhambra Line was never a major line insofar as freight is concerned.  In a tabulation of freight revenue by lines compiled by the California State Railroad Commission for the average of the three years 1935-36-37 the Alhambra Line produced but .16% of the Pacific Electric systems’ total, and its revenue per mile of line was but $607.  Commodities handled on this line in order of importance were: manufactured iron and steel, iron and steel pipe and fittings, tanks, liquor, meats, lumber and cement.  Box motor service was also provided.  Southern Pacific Less-than-carload traffic was bridged between Central Station, Los Angeles, and Alhambra-San Gabriel by three schedules daily; these also carried mail and express matter.  A daily run by a mail car (a combo) was also provided between 6th & Main Station and the Temple City terminus.



Trackage used exclusively by the Alhambra-San Gabriel-Temple City Line is here listed by section, weight of rail, and year put down.

Section                                                                   Weight   Year

Sierra Vista-Raymond Avenue                          60            1902

Raymond Ave-Mission Drive                            128G       1925

Mission Drive-San Gabriel Mission                  128G       1926

San Gabriel Mission-Las Tunas                        60            1904

Mission Drive-San Gabriel Boulevard              128G       1925

San Gabriel Boulevard-Rosemead Boulevard 75             1924

Rosemead Boulevard-Temple City                    128G       1928

West Alhambra-SP Station                                60            1904

The 1925 reconstruction of trackage on Main Street and Mission Drive from Raymond Avenue to the San Gabriel Mission was one of Pacific Electric’s major track jobs of that period.  Girder rail and rock ballast were used, and on the double track portion, tracks were shifted from an 11½ ft center to a 13 ft. center to facilitate freight operation.  Cost of this work approximately $400,000.  Track on private way between San Gabriel Boulevard and Rosemead Boulevard was laid on the northerly half of the right-of-way so a second track could be built later; this was never done.

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