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However, instead of serving a single municipality this new operation would link two or more.
In an era before automobiles, when steel rails handled nearly all interstate and intercity travel, the interurban concept seemed viable, in theory.
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.
This gave way to the typical streetcar which became such a common sight throughout America.
There were three great periods of interurban development; the first occurred during the 1890's and then reached a great flurry of construction between 19 when more than 5,000 miles were laid down.
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.
" 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.
To make matters worse they contained extremely high operating ratios of 85-90% (some were even greater than 100%) while the average rate of return never exceeded 3%.
Most were gone by the immediate postwar years and only the strongest survived to see 1960.
Visually, the interurban was classic Americana as a car sped along a grass-covered right-of-way with its trolley pole extended high.