The Electric Pullman
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The rise and fall of an Ohio railway car company

Entering an already crowded and established industry, the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company in Ohio began business with surprising success, producing well over 1,000 electric and steam railway cars—cars so durable they rarely needed to be replaced. That durability essentially put the company out of business, and it vanished from the scene as quickly as it had appeared, leaving little behind except its sturdy railway cars. The story of this highly regarded company spans just 16 years, from Niles's incorporation in 1901 to the abandonment of railway car production and sale of the property to a firm that would briefly build engine parts during World War I. Including unpublished photographs and rosters of railway cars produced by the company and still in existence in railroad museums, The Electric Pullman will appeal to railroad enthusiasts everywhere.



Publié par
Date de parution 18 avril 2013
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253007995
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

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RAILROADS PAST PRESENT George M. Smerk, editor
A list of books in the series appears at the end of this volume .
INDIANA UNIVERSITY PRESS Bloomington Indianapolis
Lawrence A. Brough

This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
601 North Morton Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47404-3797 USA
Telephone orders 800-842-6796
Fax orders 812-855-7931
2013 by Lawrence A. Brough
All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Brough, Lawrence A.
The electric Pullman : a history of the Niles Car Manufacturing Company / Lawrence A. Brough.
pages cm. - (Railroads past and present) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-253-00790-2 (cloth : alk. paper)
- ISBN 978-0-253-00799-5 (ebook) 1. Niles Car Manufacturing Company. 2. Electric railroads-Cars-United States-History. 3. Railroad cars-United States-History. I. Title.
TF920.B77 2013
1 2 3 4 5 18 17 16 15 14 13
This story is dedicated to the volunteers in traction and railroad museums across the country, whose dedication to the preservation of equipment and artifacts allows the rest of us to enjoy and learn railroad history .
High Voltage. Pullman. Two words that imply high energy, quality, excitement. While not widely adopted in the traction industry, the Niles Car Manufacturing Company participated in building high-voltage cars for electric railways in several states. Although the electrical specification for the cars was developed by others, the cars completed in 1907 for the Washington Baltimore Annapolis Electric Railway came to be called Electric Pullmans due to their heavy weight and quiet, comfortable operation. The designation stuck and was ever after associated with Niles cars.
A latecomer to the party that was the interurban era was the Niles Car Manufacturing Company, of Niles, Ohio, a car builder that didn t build its first trolley car until 1902 and was gone by 1917, a mere fifteen years of activity. Although its life was short, the Niles company left an indelible mark on the industry it served. Even nearly one hundred years after the firm s demise, Niles cars are still regarded as some of the finest products of the car builder s art and expertise and many survive in trolley museums around the country.
Historical research is like an archeological excavation, a process that seems to have no end. It may reach a stopping point but that may not be the end of the story. There comes a time, however, when diminishing returns do not justify the expenditure of additional effort. Such is the case with this account of the life of the Niles Car Manufacturing Company. While many years and countless hours have gone into this work, there is more to be told, if only the history can be recovered from wherever it is hidden. It is hoped that future historians may use this account as a basis for further digging.
This volume is intended to be a history of the company, and to that end will only report on cars as delivered to the original buyer, although it is known that many of the cars ran on successive traction lines. Hopefully this story will aid the reader in learning about the history of this firm and the scope of its influence on the industry it served. While the Niles Car Manufacturing Company is long gone, it was a valued member of the community, creating jobs and excitement wherever the Niles name appeared, either in the factory in Niles, Ohio, or on the many traction lines that operated its cars.
Lawrence A. Brough
Historical research is seldom a solo effort, and this account is certainly not. Uncovering the life of the Niles Car Manufacturing Company would not have been possible without the generous assistance of a number of individuals, including members of many traction museums throughout the United States. Among those who graciously shared their knowledge of traction history was P. Allen Copeland of El Cajon, California, whose knowledge of western traction lines, his review of this story, and suggestions for enhancement have been especially appreciated. In addition, Norman Krentel added much information about the traction lines in Michigan and William Fronzcek about lines in Pennsylvania, both states that received significant numbers of Niles cars. Audrey John, curator of the Niles Historical Society, got me started on this project and shared a wealth of material in the form of photographs and the previous research of the late Grace Allison, whose passion for Niles history seemed to have no bounds. I must also mention Bob Korach, Bill Vigrass, the late LeRoy O. King Jr., and Craig Berndt for their contributions. To all of those mentioned the author extends a big thank you.

FIGURES 0.1 AND 0.2 . Picture postcards of New Haven, Ohio, typical of the isolated country towns awaiting rail service at the turn of the twentieth century.
By 1901, the year that the Niles Car Manufacturing Company was formed, the interurban era was well on its way, although its greatest growth still lay ahead. The Niles company was entering the industry at the right time. Why interurbans were so quickly and widely accepted can best be understood from studying the photo postcards of a wide place in an otherwise dusty country road known as New Haven, Ohio (Figs. 0.1 and 0.2).
You can sense the remoteness of the place when you realize that it has no contact with the outside world except via a long, slow wagon ride to the nearest town, which may have been hours, perhaps days, away. It would appear that visitors to the place were few and far between, as evidenced by children playing in the road without fear of being trampled by a horse or run over by a horse-drawn wagon. At the turn of the twentieth century, there were hundreds of New Havens across the country that were denied access to steam railroads and eagerly welcomed the electric interurban that could whisk residents away in comfort and with speed unmatched by their horse-drawn buggies.
Progress came quickly to New Haven, Ohio, because shortly the Sandusky Norwalk Mansfield Electric Railway found its way into town, bringing not only a connection to the outside world, but also electricity and perhaps even the telephone.
Children no longer played in the middle of the road but stared starry-eyed at the big, handsome Niles coach as it swept into town, wondering what it would be like to ride in it or even to be the motorman in the front, driving the car speeding down the rails. For too brief a time, until it was supplanted by the automobile that was rapidly developing elsewhere, the interurban was the lifeline for these small towns, and Niles cars played a significant role in transporting people and merchandise quickly and conveniently over electric railways like the Sandusky Norwalk Mansfield.
While not the largest manufacturer in the industry, Niles became one of the most respected, producing interurban, suburban, and street railway cars of the highest quality for railways throughout the United States, Canada, Cuba, and reportedly the Philippines. A testament to their high standards of construction are numerous Niles cars still operating in railway museums across the country nearly one hundred years after their manufacture.
The year was 1901. William McKinley, the favorite son of Niles, Ohio, began his second term in office as president of the United States. National unemployment was at 4 percent, and Marconi demonstrated his wireless by sending messages through the air from England to Newfoundland. The electric railway era was well along and, like the steam railroads before, electric lines were springing up all over the country in an attempt to connect nearly every town and hamlet. Did this look like an opportunity to invest in America s future? It did to a group of Niles businessmen, and on May 3, 1901, they incorporated the Niles Car Manufacturing Company, which, according to its Articles of Incorporation, intended to manufacture and deal in all kinds of street and railway cars, motors, steam engines, water tanks, and acid tanks and for manufacturing and dealing in railway supplies and appliances of all kinds. The company was capitalized at $200,000.
The inclusion of the manufacture of water and acid tanks was no doubt influenced by the fact that Niles was located in what was then the heart of industrial America and was home to steel mills, rolling mills, and plants that produced glass, pottery, and firebrick-businesses that would require such equipment-and these tanks were made out of wood, as would be the trolley car bodies. Among the investors were F. J. Roller, superintendent of

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