Jack May visits St. Louis

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Jack May visits St. Louis
Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, January 5, 2020 11:21 AM
Jack May <jackmay135@gmail.com>
To:Jack May
 
 
Jan 5 at 5:12 PM
 
Clare and I spent Saturday, May 4 in St. Louis as part of a motoring trip that took us to various midwestern
and southeastern locations.  High on the list of cities we wanted to visit was St. Louis, where we did some
sightseeing, spent time with various friends and rode the relatively new at the time, St. Louis Loop Trolley.  The 2.2-mile streetcar line opened in two parts on November 16 and 23, 2018.  Two Gomaco-built "Council Crest" replica streetcars,
purchased from Portland (Oregon), were operating on the property, and one more Melbourne Australia W2
car, bought from Seattle, was still undergoing renovation in Iowa.
 
The purpose of this email is not to provide a detailed history of the 10-station heritage line  (see 
http://www.urbanrail.net/am/slou/saint-louis.htm), nor to discuss why it was built and why it failedbut, but
ratherto provide a feeling for the heritage line through some photos.  Its last day of operation was Sunday,
December 29, 2019.  Owned by a specially created Loop Trolley Transportation Development District, and
operated bythe non-profit Loop Trolley Company, the revenue coming from a one-cent sales tax charged
and collected by businesses in the area, plus fares and other sources,. turned out to be insufficient for
sustained operation.  Many of us hope that the line will be taken over by the Bi-State Development Agency,
the region's transit operator, which also runs MetroLink, the highly successful light rail system, serving St.
Louis and its suburbs.
 
The line was not a loop*, as its alignment was shaped like an upside-down and backwards "L", the spine
running for 1.4 miles east on Delmar Boulevard before turning southward for 0.8 miles along De Baliviere
Avenue.  In addition to intersecting a number of bus lines, it followed the alignment of two relatively busy
routes, No. 97 along Delmar and No. 90 along De Baliviere.  It was also served by two Metrolink stations:
Delmar Loop and Forest Park.
 
*The district is known as Delmar Loop, and was named after the terminal of a number of St. Louis Public Service streetcar lines that mostly
employed single-ended cars which thus "looped" there.
 
The photos work their way from the line's western terminal at University City Library to the southern end
point at Missouri History Museum/Forest Park.
 
 
Above and below:  Station furniture at the line's western end, the University City Library on Delmar at
Kingsland Avenue.  The signboard in the upper view contains a map and explanations of the fares and
the operating hours.  As can be seen the ill-fated route operated only on 4 days each week, with service
beginning at Noon.  With that in mind it appears that the line was only trying to attract tourists and those
seeking to patronize the shopping, dining and entertainment venues along the line, as opposed to
commuters.  Both photos show the austere shelters providing protection from the weather.  The lower view
features one of the line's fare vending machines, which turned out to be less than user-friendly and
reliable.  I had trouble purchasing senior day tickets and observed others ending up getting help from a
crew member.  Timetables were unmistakably missing, and it seemed that dispatching was being
performed by cell phone, with the operators at each end of the line timing their concurrent departures so
they could avoid meeting on the single track section of the route.
 
 



 
Side and end views of the line's two double-ended streetcars.  These were among 4 such units built in 1991-92 by the Gomaco Car Company for Portland, Oregon in the style of the Brill* semi-convertibles that had operated on the Council Crest line in the Rose City until its abandonment in 1950.  The replicas provided a heritage service on both the Portland Streetcar and the MAX light rail system at different times prior to their sale to the Loop Trolley in 2014, which renumbered No. 511 and 512 to 002 and 001, respectively.  They are equipped with PCC trucks. 

* It was quite appropriate that these replicas were chosen, as the originals had been manufactured in 1904 by the American Car Co., a Brill subsidiary, right here in St. Louis.




Above and below:  Two views of the Loop Trolley at its western end on Delmar Boulevard at Kingsland Avenue.  Car 002 lays over between runs in front of the University City Public Library in the upper view, while below, car 001 is shown just starting its trip to Forest Park.  The traffic lights at the intersection were outfitted with a special cycle that stops automobile traffic in all directions to permit streetcars using the spring switch to cut in front of eastbound traffic.

 Above and below:  Two views in the busy shopping, dining and entertainment district along Delmar Boulevard.  In the upper photo, westbound car 002 crosses Westgate Avenue, while below, eastbound car 001 stops at Limit Avenue, opposite the iconic Peacock Diner, whose neon sign simulates the bird's feathers fanning in and out when brightly lit in the evening.  Note that the sidewalk was extended into the parking lane to provide a safe platform for boarding and alighting--which is also protected from traffic by heavy bolsters (stanchions).  Limit Avenue constitutes part of the border between St. Louis and University City.  Delmar Boulevard west of this point is in the municipality of University City, historically one of the metropolitan area's first "streetcar suburbs."  It seemed to me that the busy commercial center of University City is somewhat funky, like certain neighborhoods with unusual and off-the-beaten-path shops I've observed in other cities.  It looked vibrant, but [fortunately] not yet mature enough for the big chains to come in and grab visitors' dollars with the 'same old, same old' assortment of stores and restaurants that are found all over the country=
 
 
 
Two views at the Delmar Loop stop of Loop Trolley.  The building shown in upper photo served the Delmar
station of the Wabash Railroad, which was constructed in 1929 to attract travelers from the West End of
St. Louis to the railroad's passenger trains that connected St. Louis with Kansas City, Chicago and Detroit
 
.  Built in conjunction with a grade separation project, all of Wabash's varnish stopped here a few minutes
after leaving St. Louis Union Station, about five miles to the east.  Competitors such as the Gulf, Mobile &
Ohio (Alton) and Illinois Central were unable to offer such a convenient stop for its passengers in a
manner similar to Englewood outside of Chicago and 125th Street north of Grand Central in New York City.
  (The Missouri Pacific had a Tower Grove station at the junction of its lines south to Texas and west to
Colorado, alongside a similar Frisco Railroad stop.)  However, as passengers shifted their allegiance to
automobile and airlines, the trains were discontinued and the trackage below became surplus--and was
repurposed to be used by light rail trains on MetroLink, which has a convenient station on the site.  The
lower view shows the two cars passing at the stop.  When both were on the road (which was not always),
service was operated every 20 or 30 minutes, but since there weren't any timetables posted at stops,
prospective passengers would rarely know when then next car was scheduled to arrive.




More photos, continuing further along the line, will be featured in part 2.
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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, January 5, 2020 11:55 AM

i spent considerable time using the computer's new-paragraph button to insure the text fitted the window, but the website negated this work.  But not comopletely.  Press reply, those of you who can do so, and suddenly you will have the complet text to read!

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 11:15 AM

Continued from part 1, with views of cars 001 and 002 on the eastern and southern end of the line.

Above and below:  Two views east of Delmar Loop along the St. Louis portion of the line.  There is little retail activity here in what could be described as a struggling neighborhood.  Clare and I had and excellent lunch at Krab Kingz, a seafood restaurant where we were conspicuous among the clientele, but were greeted and treated by a staff who was very anxious to please.  Any hope that the Loop Trolley would bring in more people to support activities here were dashed when the line closed on December 29, 2019.  The upper view is just east of the former Wabash Railroad station, while the lower photo shows the two cars passing on a single track portion of the line just short of De Baliviere Avenue.

 

 

The pleasantly landscaped single-track paved right-of-way that runs alongside De Baliviere Avenue.   Car 002 has just left the Crossroads [Preparatory School] stop and has but one more intermediate station before it would reach the end of the line in Forest Park.  The Winter Garden apartments at left houses senior citizens.

Above and below:  The signboard at the Crossroads School stop on De Baliviere Avenue promotes hiking and bicycling in an area that was formerly busy enough to support streetcar operation.  The two photos of the PCCs shown below are included on the left side of the display.  The bottom view shows a route 11 or 14 streamliner on De Baliviere, between Waterman Boulevard and Pershing Avenue, on the alignment of this end of the Loop Trolley, but vastly changed from a half-century ago.  The trackage shown was abandoned in 1964

Over 50 years later, car 001 is shown at virtually the same location as the lower PCC photo along De Baliviere, between Waterman and Pershing.  It was rare that two cars would pass at this spot, being so close to the southern end of the line.  The red brick building at right houses a center for dialysis.

Back on single track car 002 is shown to the parking lot (east side) of the history museum in Forest Park just after leaving the line's terminal.  I always thought the Loop Trolley should have continued through the park so it could connect other museums and traffic generators, such as the zoo.

This concludes my requiem for the Loop Trolley.  Part 3, an afterthought, will consist of some photos of our sightseeing at the time of our visit.
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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 9:13 AM
A quick detour.

David Peter Alan, a New Jersey-based passenger rail advocate, wrote an article about the history of the Loop Trolley for Railway Age.  It has a number of good photos, the best of which I've pasted below along with the link.  The photos did not come with any credits, so I suspect they were official pictures from the trolley company.  Nor did they have captions, but were placed accordingly within the text of the article, so for further information and the remainder of the illustrations, I suggest you click on the link.  (I've added some comments below; refer to the articles photos.)

Jack


https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/light-rail/a-streetcar-thought-undesirable/

The map isn't quite right, showing a counter-clockwise loop at the History Museum;  the line actually had a stub end terminal on its eastern leg.  It also shows Trinity Avenue as the western terminal, when it actually was slightly shorter, ending just west of the Kingsland intersection.
Didn't quite end up with single-ended ex-Milan Peter Witts, nor did it ever look like as handsome as this.
Ex-Melbourne W2 cars from Seattle.

The Grand Avenue line was a busy crosstown route that was abandoned in January, 1960.

Gomaco did an excellent job on the Loop Trolley interiors.
I suspect a scene like this one may have become more and more common on Friday or Saturday nights this past summer had timetables or countdown clocks been available.
 Part 3, which is upcoming, will conclude this report.
 
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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, January 12, 2020 7:08 AM

  The final part of this essay covers some of the sightseeing we accomplished while in the St. Louis area.  Just after noon on Saturday we parked at the History Museum and Clare accompanied me for a round trip on the Loop Trolley, which included a few photos and a stop for a great lunch at Krab Kingz along the eastern portion of Delmar Boulevard.  When we returned I drove her further into the park to the St. Louis Art Museum, parked again back at the History Museum and then accomplished much of the photography that was shown in parts 1 and 2. 

However, before the 12 noon start of Loop Trolley service, we visited the St. Louis Gateway Arch.  Staying in a Drury Inn near the airport, we drove downtown early Saturday morning 
on a mostly empty interstate, hoping to find a free parking spot on the street, but did not, and ended up putting the car in a virtually empty parking deck nearby.  Here are a few pictures I took both before we rode to the pinnacle of the 630-foot arch, and then from the cramped viewing area at the summit.  We had heard that sometimes the wait for the trams that run within the arch is very long, but it was quick this morning.  And we found plenty of opportunity to browse through the visitors center and shops in the lobby.



The "Old Courthouse" is located opposite the Gateway Arch.  The beautiful Federal-style building dates from 1828, with the dome, constructed to resemble St. Peter's Basilica (and thus the Nation's Capitol), being added in 1864.  It reigned as the tallest building in St. Louis until 1896, when Union Station was built.  Originally the site of slave auctions (until 1861), the most famous case argued here resulted in the infamous Dred Scott decision.  Its use as a court was discontinued in 1930 and it was designated to become part of the National Monument that also houses the arch in 1935.



A view eastward from the courthouse to the visitor center of Gateway Arch.  Designed by Eero Saarinen, the graceful 1967-built National Monument is 630 feet high and provides a commanding view of Missouri and neighboring Illinois from its summit.



Above and below:  Two views from the observation deck of the Gateway Arch.  The upper photo looks westward and is dominated by the Old Court House.  The skyscrapers shown (from left to right) include the Equitable building, Hilton St. Louis, Bank of America Plaza (black), Thomas F. Eagleton Court House, Civil Courts building (pointed top) and the AT&T Center (currently vacant, but the tallest building in St. Louis, in terms of number of stories--44).  In the lower photo the camera is aimed a bit to the southwest and was focused on Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.  The cylindrical building at the far left is the Millennial Hotel, which is now closed.




Above and below:
  
Ol' Man River dominates the views looking eastward toward Illinois from the arch's summit.  On top, looking a bit south, the road bridge shown crossing the muddy Mississippi is used by Interstate Highways I-55 and I-64, while the truss structure behind it is the MacArthur Bridge, that carries both freight trains and Amtrak.  Below, pointing the camera a bit to the north, the Casino Queen lies to the right of the Eads Bridge, whose lower level is now used by MetroLink trains between the two states.  North of that is the Martin Luther King, Jr. road bridge, formerly the Veteran's Memorial Bridge.  Owned by the City of East St. Louis, it is currently closed and undergoing renovation
.


On the afternoon prior to crossing into St. Louis, we paused on the Illinois side of the Mississippi to visit Cahokia, one of the midwest's most notable archaeological sights, a location that Clare has wanted to visit for a long time.  When we contemplate pyramids in our hemisphere, we usually think of Mexico and the Central American republics, but here, in what is now the U. S., there was a similar thriving civilization in pre-Columbian times.


Our visit to the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site took in a museum, video presentation and tour of various mounds in the area.  This view is of an information board placed in front of Monks Mound, which the public is allowed to climb via a staircase.  It is suspected that some 120 such mounds, housing an ancient city existed in the days before Europeans came to America.  Apparently started in the 7th century, the city lasted until the 14th.  The tribe of Indians first encountered by French explorers called themselves Cahokia, which explains the name given to this area around Collinsville, Illinois.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahokia and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monks_Mound indicate that Monks Mound is the largest structure and central focus of the city.  A massive platform mound with four terraces, and 10 stories tall, it is the largest man-made earthen mound north of Mexico. Facing south, it is 100 ft (30 m) high, 951 ft (290 m) long, 836 ft (255 m) wide and covers 13.8 acres (5.6 hectares). It contains about 814,000 cubic yards (622,000 m3) of earth.  Many artifacts were found when parts of the area were excavated and are displayed in the museum.


We then visited with Dave Neubauer at his senior digs in Florissant, and were very impressed with how he is able to negotiate his apartment and access his abundance of rail publications and information from his wheelchair.  It was good seeing him again, albeit too briefly.  We then drove to the lodgings we would occupy for the next two evenings.

After I finished my Loop Trolley "work" on Saturday, I picked Clare up at the Art Museum, and since it was still light we parked again near the Forest Park stop of the Loop Trolley, which is adjacent to the Forest Park/De Baliviere stop of the light rail system.  We made a round trip on the Blue Line, MetroLink's "Cross-County" branch, from our boarding stop to its terminal at Shrewsbury-Lansdowne I-44, some 8 miles away.  This section opened in 2006, and is probably my favorite (I actually like all of the original line [1993-2003] as well), as it's especially interesting, carefully crafted with subway and elevated sections, and along a former railroad right-of-way.  There was no time to stop for photos, but I did get a picture of an outbound Red Line car coming into the station.



An outbound Red Line train is shown entering the Forest Park/De Baliviere station, which has an island platform.  MetroLink owns 87 of these SD400/SD460 Siemens-built cars, which came in four separate orders.  The junction between the two lines is at the other side of the station (behind the photographer).  The center track in the background can be used to store crippled trains or hold extra equipment for peak periods or special events.


Then it was time to meet Andy Sisk for dinner and so we drove over to an Asian restaurant on Delmar Boulevard near the library at the west end of the line, and had a fine repast.  We exchanged a great deal of information and paper, but soon we had to say goodbye.

All in all it was a great visit to the Gateway to the West, but on Sunday morning we had to leave.  We reversed our direction and headed to Louisville, Kentucky, where we would spend a day with one of Clare's first cousins and his family.  Of course we had to stop en route, but our time in French Lick, Indiana will be the subject of another story.

Jack May

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