Tuscaloosa Streetcar in Montreal, Canada

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Title

Tuscaloosa Streetcar in Montreal, Canada

Subject

Transportation

Description

When Tuscaloosa gave up its electric streetcar system, the cars were sold to the city of Montreal, Canada, in 1942. The postcard shows one of the cars in use in 1948. The information on the back of the postcard is shown.

The history of Tuscaloosa's transportation came to light again when, in 2010, construction uncovered the old tracks.

A Tuscaloosa News article, published on July 8, 2010, by news writer Robert DeWitt told the the history:

Talk of a horse-drawn streetcar system began as early as 1871, according to “Matt Clinton's Scrapbook,” a history of Tuscaloosa. But the horse-drawn trolley didn't begin operations until 1882. It ran from the Alabama Great Southern railway at Greensboro Avenue and Hargrove Road to downtown and down University Boulevard, then called Broad Street.

Among the horse-drawn system's claims to fame was one of its drivers. W.W. Brandon, known as “Plain Old Bill,” drove the streetcar for about year. He would later become Governor of Alabama and Brandon Armory on University Boulevard was named for him.

A motorized line using a small steam locomotive was proposed in 1887. According to “Matt Clinton's Scrapbook,” the horse-drawn line remained in use until 1890.

The steam line, also known as the Tuscaloosa Belt Railway, shuttled both passengers and freight around the city. Its lines were laid in public streets and it also used railroad rights of way.

In 1915, the trolley line's corporate name became the Tuscaloosa Railway and Utilities Corporation. It followed a growing trend and converted to electric street cars, which lacked the smoke and noise of the steam lines. That same year the fare dropped from a dime to 5 cents.

According to an article in Trolley Sparks magazine by Stephen D. Maguire, the line had five passenger cars, a line and work car and two electric freight locomotives. The eight miles of track included a 3-mile loop from the AGS to the University, up University Boulevard to downtown and back down to the train station. There was a four-mile line out to the paper mill and foundry at Holt and about a mile of siding for offloading freight in downtown.

Three cars operated on the line at the same time, one running the loop clockwise and two running the loop and out to Holt counterclockwise. Every 30 minutes the clockwise streetcar and one of the counterclockwise trains met at a place on University Boulevard called Lawn Station. Druid City Hospital was formerly located there and it later became the location for the Russell Student Health Center.

The cars were painted in a yellow livery with cream and blue trim. Two extra cars were kept on hand for spares in case of repairs. The line had its car house on Fourth Street across from what is now Wilhagens in a building now occupied by Utility Meter Services. All five of the cars could fit into the house.

Alabama Power Co. eventually bought the electrified line. But cheap petroleum fuel, improving roads and better vehicle technology were about to change things.

Bus systems began replacing electric trolleys in the 1930s. Bus routes could be changed to any street in town without laying new tracks. And buses were faster than street cars. These advantages led to the demise of the electric street car line in 1941.

Source

Jim Ezell

Date

1948

Contributor

Betty Slowe (Description)

Rights

Jim Ezell

Type

Postcard

Identifier

2306

Coverage

Tuscaloosa (AL)