Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Eastmoreland / Errol Heights Line

In 1910 the Ladd Estate Co. laid tracks east of existing PRL&P tracks on Milwaukie up Bybee to the site of the under-construction Reed College.1 Two years later the tracks to the campus were removed, & new tracks laid heading south of Bybee at S.E. 32nd, terminating at Rex Avenue. The LEC leased trolleys from PRL&P to service the new real estate development, called Eastmoreland. That same year the line was donated to PRL&P by the LEC.

In 1913 track was laid by another real estate developer, the Fred A. Jacobs Co., off the 32nd Ave. Eastmoreland tracks heading east on Knapp.

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Red line is the original Eastmoreland line, green the Errol Heights extension.

Maintained by the Errol Heights Railway Co., w/ a car & operator supplied by PRL&P at 91.4 cents per car-hour, the car ran 10 & a half hours a day. Riding the Errol Heights line was free, FA Jacobs/EHR assuming all costs. 150 or so people rode the line each way daily, but despite this ridership, offers by EHR to sell the line to PRL&P were rejected, PRL&P citing a policy of not operating lines 5 miles from the city's center.2 Its unclear how & why, but the line was merged into the Eastmoreland route in the 1920s anyways (I would guess EHR simply surrendered the line).

The merged Eastlmoreland/Errol Heights line trundled on until 1926, when most of the line was converted to gas bus. The Errol Heights section, at least, appears to have been completely abandoned in 1929.

While there are no photos of trolleys on the Errol Heights line, the only car known to have operated on it was the 1500. Built in 1892 by the Patton Motor Car Co. as an experimental single truck (one set of four wheels) gas-elec. trolley, it first made runs on the Metropolitan Railway's3 standard guage line, which ran 6 miles from downtown at 2nd & Glisan south to Riverview Cemetary. Use of the 1500 on this line was considered a failure, but the car was remodeled in 1903 into a double-truck all-elec. car.

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No. 1500 as a mail car.

From thereon, it moonlighted variously as an interurban car, parlor car, funeral car, mail car, &, finally, a passenger car on the Errol Heights line. Retired in 1921, it was the only car w/ a center entrance to have seen significant use.4

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No. 1500 as a funeral car.

Trolley funeral cars were available in many large American cities in the early 20th Century. W/ unpaved roads & horse-drawn hearses, trolley funeral cars offered a more civilized journey for the deceased. Trolleys were chartered to transport the funeral party to & from a cemetary along an existing trolley line. They usually included a small door on the side of the car at floor level for loading & unloading the casket. Usually, upon arrival at the cemetery, the casket would be transferred to a hand carrier & wheeled to graveside.


1 Boxcars were also rented by LEC from PRL&P to assist, presumably, in the construction of Reed College's oldest buildings.
2 Labbe, John. Fares, Please!: Those Portland Trolley Years. Caxton Printers, Ltd. Caldwell, Idaho. 1980. p. 158-159.
3 Incorporated 1889, sold to the Multnomah Street Railway Co. in 1892.
4 Thompson, Richard. Portland's Streetcars. Arcadia Publishing. 2006. p.98