Thursday, October 23, 2008

History of Indiana Railroad #205

History of:
Interstate Public Service #266
Indiana Railroad #205
Portland Traction #4003
Indiana Railroad 205 on Wabash Avenue in Terre Haute, Indiana in April 1939. George Krambles Archives.
Note: These photographs are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.

When the Indiana Railroad (IR) was formed in 1931 through the combination of several large interurban systems, its roster was a motley assortment of interurbans, streetcars, freight and work motors spanning several decades. The three-decade old wooden interurban combines of the Terre Haute Indianapolis & Eastern stood in stark contrast to the modern steel coaches, parlor cars and sleepers that Interstate Public Service (IPS) had purchased only a few years before.

IPS owned perhaps the most modern fleet of the IR predecessor companies, and while it was best known for the heavyweight interurbans built for Indianapolis to Louisville service, its newest equipment was a small group of modern lightweight suburban cars. These cars, numbered 261-266, had been constructed in 1927 by a Brill subsidiary, the G.C. Kuhlman Car Company of Cleveland. The 261 series was purchased to modernize service on the standard gauge suburban lines that IPS operated north out of Louisville to the cities of Jeffersonville and New Albany across the river in Indiana.
Car 261 is shown in this builder's photo. Body color was a light, sand-like orange with tile red roof and doors and black lettering, striping and details. Kuhlman Photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive.
The six Kuhlman lightweights are shown when brand new; car 266 (later 205) is second in line.  The cars were painted orange; the dark color us due to the film used. Photo from the CERA Archives.

The six cars of Kuhlman order #924 were classic examples of contemporary lightweight car design. They were 45'6" long, fitted with Tomlinson couplers and Westinghouse HL control for multiple-unit operation, and were designed for either one-man or two-man operation. They were safety cars, fitted with M28D brake stands and "dead-man" controller handles, and - befitting their role as suburban cars - were fitted with unusual double-height anti-climbers to prevent telescoping in an accident with either a low-floor city car or a high-floor interurban car. The cars had modern Brill 177E1X trucks, GE 247 motors and were fitted with leatherette walkover seats for fast, smooth and comfortable operation at speed.
Car 266 at Scottsburg Shops on September 10, 1934; note original air whistle and steps at all corners, plus Public Service Company of Indiana lettering. George Krambles Archives.

The 261 series didn't see service out of Louisville for very long, though. On July 2, 1930, IPS operations were officially incorporated into the Indiana Railroad system, though IPS continued to exist as a distinct corporation. The following year, in 1931, IPS changed its name to Public Service Company of Indiana, and some of its cars - including car 266 - were relettered for PSC. Time was running out for the local service out of Louisville, though, and in 1934 all routes over the Big Four and K&I Bridges into Indiana were sold to local operators Home Transit and New Albany & Louisville. The six cars of the 261-266 series, only seven years old, were run to PSC's Scottsburg Shops and put into storage.
Car 266 is pictured in March or April 1936 during testing in Terre Haute. Note that the PSCI name has been painted out on the letterboard; also note the electric marker lights installed over the end windows. These were soon relocated to the dash. George Krambles Photo, Scott Greig Collection.

After two years, the Indiana Railroad came up with a plan to put the six modern suburban cars it had inherited from IPS to use: it would adapt them for use as streetcars for service in Terre Haute. Car 266 became the prototype. In mid March the car was transferred to Terre Haute and tested in service; the test was deemed successful and all six of the 261-series cars were sent to Anderson Shops for rebuilding. Modifications for use as one-man city cars included closing off the lefthand doors at each end and installation of electric marker lights. The other members of the series received modifications similar to 266's, and all cars were repainted and lettered for Indiana Railroad. They also received new numbers in the 200 series, PSC 266 becoming IR 205.
Car 204, seen in front of the Wabash Barn in Terre Haute on April 3, 1939, shows what this series looked like during its Terre Haute days. George Krambles Archives.
Map of city car lines in Terre Haute, Indiana during the 1930's. Map drawn by Frank Hicks.
Car 205 is shown at Anderson Shops on January 28, 1937, probably sent there for maintenance or repair work. Note the front pole tied back, which seems to have been done to these cars for all intercity moves. George Krambles Archives.

Car 202, which would later be preserved at the Western Railway Museum, is shown at an unknown location in Terre Haute on August 17, 1937. John T. Csoka Collection.

Following rebuilding, cars 200-205 were operated from Anderson to Terre Haute in two trains of three cars each, entering service in early July 1936. Their assignment to Terre Haute would prove to be even shorter than their days running out of Louisville; in December 1938 an agreement was signed to transfer all Terre Haute city operations to National City Lines. June 3, 1939 was the last day of streetcar operation in Terre Haute, after which the six 200-series cars were operated to Scottsburg and put back into storage. Indiana Railroad was imploding; with the failure of the Insull utilities empire that had fostered its creation, and with the advent of the Great Depression and the expansion of automobile use, the last great system of the Indiana-Ohio interurban network was in its death throes. In January 1940 the interurban line to Terre Haute was abandoned and by February 1941 the only surviving remnant of the Indiana Railroad system was a short segment of former IPS track between Indianapolis and Seymour, Indiana, operated under the name not of IR but of PSC. In September 1941 that service came to an end due to a fatal head-on collision, finishing off the last of the Indiana Railroad system.
Car 205 and its sisters are in storage at Scottsburg Shops on September 3, 1939, three months to the day after their last run in Terre Haute. Note that it is MU'ed to the car in front of it. Malcolm McCarter Collection.

By that time, car 205 and its sisters were far away. In 1940 the 200-series cars were sold to the Portland Electric Power Company (later Portland Traction) in Oregon, where they were put into suburban service. Car 205 was renumbered PEPCO 4003 and received minor modifications, most notably air horns and a new blue-and-white paint scheme. PEPCO 4000-4005 joined other second- and third-hand suburban cars, including Cincinnati curve-sides, Brill Master Units and "Hollywood" center-entrance cars, operating between Portland and Oregon City into the late 1950's.
PEPCO 4003 (ex-IR 205) at an unknown location in Oregon in 1943. The only real modifications have been removal of the permanent headlight and addition of air horns. Leonard Foitl photo, Brinckmann Collection.
PEPCO 4003 is turning onto 1st Street in downtown Portland on September 16, 1949. Krambles-Peterson Archive.
PEPCO 4003 passes steeplecab 1410 and a track crew in service in Portland on September 16, 1949. Krambles-Peterson Archive.
Portland Traction 4003 (ex-IR 205) and another ex-Indiana car at 1st & Washington in downtown Portland during the 1950s. By this time the dash at this end of the car had been replaced, likely due to accident damage, and the car's livery has changed from blue to red.  Al Reinschmidt Collection.

In 1958, Portland Traction abruptly abandoned service, and within a short time its entire fleet had been sold or scrapped. A railfan from Washington state named Robert Hively purchased car 4003 and moved it to some private property in Snoqualmie, Washington, near what is now the Northwest Railway Museum. It was stored there with other assorted equipment including another ex-Interstate Public Service car, the heavyweight interurban sleeping car "Scottsburg." The cars were stored outdoors in what was essentially a rain forest area; car 4003 in particular suffered extensively from water damage and neglect. Its original roof largely rotted away and was replaced with plywood; its interior headlining and wall panels were badly damaged and removed; and the steel sides of the car were steadily eaten away by rust. For three and a half decades the car sat, exposed to the elements and occasionally the victim of vandals, in Snoqualmie.

In November 1989 car 4003 was moved to Yakima, Washington (photos here) and following Hively's death it was made available for sale in 1993. One other car from this series, Portland Traction 4001 (ex-IR 202 - PHOTO), had been preserved in good condition by the Western Railway Museum, and that organization expressed an interest in purchasing 4003 to scrap it for spare parts. Several members of the Illinois Railway Museum, though, spearheaded by J. Johnson, expressed an interest in saving car 4003 for preservation, and in the end they were successful in purchasing the car. A crew of volunteers led by Dave Diamond drove to Oregon in December 1993, loaded car 4003 onto a trailer and trucked it over the mountains to Illinois. (For more on this move, click here.) The car arrived at IRM on December 13, 1993.
IR 205 in 2004 before the commencement of restoration work. The blue-and-white color scheme the car wears was applied by Robert Hively to approximate the PEPCO livery the car wore during the 1940's. Photo by Frank Hicks.

Within a year, with the construction of Barns 6 and 8, car 4003 had been moved into indoor storage, which it has enjoyed ever since. IRM volunteers led by Bob Bruneau performed minor repair work to the car, replacing broken windows and securing the doors, but otherwise it remained an unrestored display. In 2004 work began on a cosmetic restoration of the car. Due to the extensive modifications made by Anderson Shops in 1936 it was judged impractical to backdate the car to its Interstate Public Service days, so the decision was made to backdate the car to its days as a Terre Haute city car - and to return it to its Indiana Railroad number, 205. The extensive body deterioration also made it impractical to restore the car to operation without a frame-up rebuild costing somewhere around half a million dollars. For the past few years, work has steadily progressed to restore the exterior appearance of the car. The end result will be an attractive display piece representative of streetcar operation in the smaller cities of the Midwest.

Car 205 in August 2013 during repainting work. Photo by Frank Hicks.

List of Known Modifications During the Car's Service Life
- Electrical cabinet to motorman's left replaced with window (pre-1934)
- Installation of electric markers on the end letterboard (March 1936)
- Installation of mirrors on right side corner posts (March 1936)
- Removal of left-side steps and closing off of left doors (May/June 1936)
- Removal of letterboard markers and installation of dash markers (May/June 1936)
- Removal of air whistles (May/June 1936)
- Replacement of trolley retriever with trolley catcher (1936)
- Removal of permanent dash-mounted headlight (1940)
- Replacement of trolley catcher with trolley retriever (1940)
- Removal of lower marker brackets (1940)
- Removal of mirrors (1940)
- Installation of air horns (1940)
- Replacement of lifeguard baskets with truck-mounted pilots (1940?)
- Interior painted brown (post-1940?)
- Replacement of steel fold-out steps with wooden ones (post-1940?)
- Removal of MU sockets (post-1940)
- Window shades removed (post-1940)
- Replacement of dash at one end of car following an accident (post-1940)
- Replacement of three brass end window sash with wooden sash (post-1940)
- Installation of drop sash in left-side doors (post-1940)
- Removal of window guards (late-1940s)

Thanks to David Wilkins, Randy Hicks, Charlie Myers and Jeff Trimble for their help with researching this account.  Thanks also to Robert Bruneau, John T. Csolka, Art Peterson, Al Reinschmidt and David Sadowski for providing photographs.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the 205 pix, but since they are all greyscale, I wonder about the colors. I know the last one is blue and white, but what about the others?

Randall Hicks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Hicks said...

As built, 266 was painted IPS orange (some samples of which are still on the exterior of the car) with maroon doors, a maroon roof, black anticlimbers, and black lettering outlined in white. The photo of the car in 1934 lettered for PSCI likely shows the car in this color scheme. During its years in Terre Haute the car (now 205) was painted Indiana RR orange with a dark green roof and anticlimbers and dark green lettering outlined in silver. When it went to Portland the now-4003 was painted dark blue and white with either white or silver lettering. Later Portland repainted it, replacing the dark blue with carmine red. Photos of the car during its Indiana career which make it appear to be a dark color are probably the result of the use of orthochromatic B&W film.