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In an era before automobiles, when steel rails handled nearly all interstate and intercity travel, the interurban concept seemed viable, in theory.There was also the added perk of providing some freight business.He eventually secured a contract in May of 1887 with the Richmond Union Passenger Railway in Virginia to provide cars for its operation. Brill Company Jewett Car Company Niles Car & Manufacturing Company St.It opened on February 2, 1888 and proved successful. Louis Car Company Birneys Electroliners Presidents’ Conference Committee Streetcars, PCCs Another important developer was Sidney Howe Short who invented a double-reduction, gearless motor and also learned that overhead catenary was the best means for electrical pickup. They are located in the former location of Pro Green Plus.
As these technologies found their way to the United States the first examples appeared in the 1880's; in 1880 Thomas Edison tested an experimental electric locomotive, powered by a dynamo, which was operated on a stretch of track in Menlo Park, New Jersey. George Hilton and John Due's authoritative piece, "," points out the birth of the true American interurban began when Frank Sprague developed an electric motorcar in 1886 for the New York Elevated Railway whereby the motor(s) were situated between the axle, along with a trolley pole and multiple-unit control stand." Walla Walla Valley Railway: Handling Agriculture Near Walla Walla, Washington Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway Service Across East-Central Iowa Yakima Valley Transportation: Serving Central-Washington's Agriculture Industry Barney & Smith Car Company Cincinnati Car Company G. Short conceived another important development, the contact "shoe." By the time main line electrified systems were introduced in 1895, when the Baltimore & Ohio energized 4 miles of its Baltimore trackage (including the 1.4-mile Howard Street Tunnel), the technology was quite advanced (according to the railroad's "Official List No.29" issued January 1, 1948 the entire Belt Line ran from Milepost 90.7 at Bay View, Maryland to Milepost 97.9 at Hamburg Street, Baltimore).Most were out of the business by World War II and only one still operates today, the Iowa Traction Railway (others have shed their "interurban" status and now operate as short line freight carriers).
Ironically, the commuter services inteurbans provided are actually making a comeback as LRT (light rail transit) systems as cities look for alternatives to increasingly crowded highways.
Once more, a financial setback, the Panic of 1907, ended investment although afterwards another great construction period did not materialize.