Category Archives: interurban

Special Event – Interurban Fans – 9/13/16

transcribed from Railspot’s Facebook announcement of 8/25/2016:

The official premiere of the new TEXAS ELECTRIC RAILWAY program is Tuesday evening, September 13th at the EVENT 1013 center located at 1013 E. 15th Street in historic Plano, Texas. The premiere starts at 7:30 pm and will feature 31 minutes of color and 20 minutes of rare B&W movies from the collection of Johnnie J. Myers.

As a surprise development Johnnie J. Myers and myself were contacted this weekend by members of the Historic Downtown Plano group and our premiere has now been officially made part of the 2016 Plano Artfest. Although the actual Artfest is the following Saturday, the City of Plano has decided to have a series of programs beginning that Tuesday and leading up to the main part of Artfest that Saturday. So the new DVD featuring the Texas Electric is the opening act for that week’s events!

The program is free and open to the public and I’ve been told that they also plan to provide refreshments.

The program will include viewing the Texas Electric Railway documentary, then will be followed by a short discussion by Robert Haynes, curator of the Plano Interurban Museum and then followed by a Q&A session. The panel will include Johnnie J. Myers, myself and Robert Haynes.

The movies cover the years from 1937 to 1948 and feature the blue & white “Bluebonnet” cars, the red & cream cars, Class C freight motors, Box Motors, streetcars on the Waco Transit, Katy steam at Hillsboro, West and Italy, and even a Rock Island freight behind a 2-8-2 at Red Oak. Classic street running at Waco, West, Hillsboro, Milford, Italy, Richardson and Sherman. Several scenes of the “up and over” bridge over the MKT and B-RI at Waxahachie, crossing the Brazos River in Waco, and activity at the Dallas Interurban Terminal off Wood Street. It’s all here.

I hope that everyone will try to plan on attending that night. I’ve been told that the EVENT 1013 facility is very upscale so it’s incredibly nice that the City of Plano has made it available to us for that evening.

Speaking personally, I do love getting out and doing historical programs like this. I find which each day’s passing that there are fewer and fewer of those who were around during this period of our state’s history to know what “interurbans” are, much less the Texas Electric. So I find myself drawn by the desire to share what I have, photos, movies and knowledge, with as many people as I can while I still can. It’s been a busy summer so far. I did a two hour program for the Allen Public Library back on Saturday, June 11th where I featured “The Passenger Trains of North Texas”. Then on Friday, August 5th I did a program on the Texas Zephyr for the Wichita Falls Rotary Club. Next up will be the Texas Electric program on Tuesday, September 13th, and I’m trying to work out arrangements for an “All Texas & Pacific” program in Marshall or Longview in October. As much fun as I have doing these, the best part is seeing so many friends come and share their time with me.

So don’t be a stranger on September 13th. Set your schedule now and plan on being in Plano that evening for the world premiere for the TEXAS ELECTRIC RAILWAY, from the collection of Johnnie J. Myers.

As PS, if you have a copy of his Texas Electric book, bring it and ask Johnnie to sign it.

–Steve Goen


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Posted by on December 31, 2015 in interurban


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How the Interurban worked

With apologies in advance to electrical engineers who may read this, the Interurban ran on electricity.  More specifically, it ran on direct current.

The power to weight ratio measures the power output generated by a system as it relates to the weight of the vehicle.  The power to weight ratio is greater for electric trains is greater than that of steam or diesel trains, primarily because electric trains are not required to carry fuel as the other trains must do. Because its weight is less as it relates to the power of the motor, the acceleration of an electric train is better. Typically, streetcars in the US run on 600 to 750 volts of power.  In the early to mid 1900s the industry standard was 600 volts. The Texas Electric Railway trains ran on 1200 volts on their longer runs, such as Dallas to Waco and 600 volts in the urban areas.

Electricity was supplied to the Interurban cars via overhead trolley wires that the cars touched by means of a trolley pole or pantograph. There was a trolley pole at each end of each car.  Contemporary systems instead use an electrified third rail rather than the pantograph.

Current was supplied by converter stations placed 8 to 10 miles apart for a 600 volt line.  Twice that distance could be used for a 1200 volt line.  The overhead copper cables were thick in order to reduce the resistance as the current traveled through the line.  The trolley wire made contact with the cable by touching it and was kept in contact by being spring loaded.  There was a pantograph at each end of each car.  The current was delivered to the wheel assembly containing the electric motors which propelled the cars.  The circuit was completed as the current traveled from the cable, through the cars and finally to the rails.  It would be considered an environmentally friendly system today, although the rotary converters in the converter stations gave off a considerable amount of heat.  Though the cars themselves had no air conditioning system during the hot Texas summers, they were fitted with electric heaters in the winter.

Though the system has been updated, contemporary electric rail systems daily use all over the world still function according the same basic technological principles, though considerably refined.

© 2015, all rights reserved.

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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in interurban


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Col. John F. Strickland, 1860-1921

From The Courier-Gazette, McKinney, TX 21 May 1921:

J. F. Strickland Drops Dead in Dallas Home:

J. F. Strickland, long prominent in business circles in this city and State, dropped dead at his home, 3705 Rawlins street, Oak Lawn, this morning shortly before 10 o’clock.

Mr. Strickland was a native of Alabama. He came to Texas in 1879 and his boyhood days were spent in Ellis county. He came to Dallas in 1904 and attracted Nation-wide attention by his success in financing and building the Dallas-Sherman-Denison interurban Line. After that he built the line to Waco, and also the one from Dallas to Corsicana. He once said it was his ambition to build electric lines which would connect every large city. Had his ambition been realized, he would have had a transportation system equalling that of any steam railroad in the Southwest.

Strickland was a member of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers’ Association, City Club, President of the Texas Electric Company, president of Dallas Power and light Company and president of the Dallas Railway Company, president of Texas Electric Railway, president of Securities Company, president of Dallas Union Trust Company and active vice chairman the Texas Land Syndicate.”

After he arrived in Texas, he began working on the farm of O. B. Sims in Waxahachie. With his savings, he purchased a team of oxen which he used to earn money from plowing for farmers in the vicinity of Milford. With these earnings, he purchased a cotton gin in Avalon. The cotton gin burned to the ground at some point and Strickland took the insurance proceeds and returned to Waxahachie. After that, he worked in the grocery business and eventually became owner of the store, eventually transitioning from retail to wholesale grocery sales. He expanded his business interests, owning ice houses and real estate.

His interest in electrical development led him to start the Waxahachie Light, Power and Water Company that did not take hold, but led to a successor company, Waxahachie Electric Light Company. where he served as manager. He expanded his business interests and moved to Dallas in 1904. In Dallas, he invested in companies related to electrical service including a venture with Osce Goodwin and Judge M. B. Templeton which became Texas Power and Light Company. He and other associates formed the Texas Traction Company and between 1906 and 1908 they had created the Interurban rail car system that operated between Denison, Sherman and McKinney.

At the time of his death in 1921, he was serving as president of Texas Power and Light Company (the entity which eventually became Oncore Electric Delivery), Dallas Power and Light Company, Texas Electric Railway, the Dallas Street Railway Company and Dallas Securities Company. Strickland was a long time member of First Baptist Church of Dallas and the memorial service was performed by Dr. George W. Truett.

Robert L. Johnson, in T.P. & L., First Sixty Years has written this concerning Strickland “…as a business associate he was a genius, combining many elements rarely found in number and degree in a single individual. He possessed sagacity, wisdom and vision, which were exemplified by the great works he has wrought and executed. Not less conspicuously he was endowed with honesty, integrity and fidelity. Untiring industry and unceasing perseverance were among his many marked characteristics. He commanded the respect and confidence of those with whom he was associated and impressed them that he could consummate any undertaking within his contemplation. He believed in honesty as a principle, in fair dealing as an obligation, in the welfare of others as a duty. He had faith in his fellow man, sought always to find the good in others; and other men had faith in him because they found him worthy of their faith, and they believed in him and trusted him.”

To learn more about Col. Strickland and the Interurban, please see:
Blog for Ellis County History
Plano Interurban Museum

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Posted by on January 16, 2015 in biography, interurban


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The Interurban

If you were living in Waco in 1913, you could have read an article in the Waco Morning News on October 29, 1913 announcing a new rail line, the Interurban. It was the final extension in one large system, part of the Texas Electric Railway.

In its heyday, it operated from Dallas to Denison, Corsicana, and Waco. Through the merger of several companies, it became the largest interurban railway operator in the South before its demise in 1948. In full flower, it was 250 miles in length, making it as large and important as almost any line in the United States.

The concept originated out of the need for transportation, mail and freight service between smaller towns typically not served by the larger steam engine railway systems in a niche not served by the larger systems. Passengers were able to use reliable, frequent service between towns and villages on the route, much in the same way they accepted and used intercity streetcar systems in the more developed urban areas. Service was fast and reliable, had regular and frequent stops and was affordable to almost all users.

The first service in north and central Texas began in 1901 with the opening of the Denison and Sherman Railway. It connected the two towns over ten miles of track and was incorporated as the Denison & Sherman Railway Company. Col. J. F. Strickland had purchased much of the stock of this company as he was simultaneously developing a 67 mile link between Sherman and Dallas under the Texas Traction Company which began operation in 1908. Stickland and his investors purchased the northern line in 1911 with the Texas Traction Company and combined the two lines. This gave it 77 miles of continuous track linked with the local streetcar companies in Dennison, Sherman and McKinney. Repair shops were in Denison. The first runs between Denison and Dallas on this line occurred in 1911.

With the success of the earlier northern route, in 1912 the owners of the Texas Traction Company acquired a 28 mile line that extended from Dallas to Waxahachie. Built by the Dallas Southern Traction Company, the company became known as the Southern Traction Company and the rail line extended to Waco with the completion of a 97 mile line which opened October 12, 1913. The 56 mile line from Dallas to Corsicana was completed about the same time. In 1917 the Texas Traction Company and the Southern Traction Company merged to form the Texas Electric Railway Company and became the largest interurban railway in the South with more than 200 miles of track. The main repair facility was built in 1914 four miles south of downtown Dallas (the Monroe Shops) where the lines to Waco and Corsicana split. The Monroe Shops also housed the administrative offices of the Company until the $1,500,000 Dallas Interurban Building was completed two years later,

Service was vigorous and successful for several decades until the automobile became more affordable and accepted as a primary mode of transportation. The Company’s revenue gradually declined and the last car ran on December 31, 1948.

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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in interurban


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