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Interurbans, and their suburban counterparts (the streetcar), were once common throughout the country. The mania began during the late 19th century and spilled over into the early 1900's as thousands of miles were laid down from New England to California. In retrospect, the financial interests behind these traction railroads were largely misplaced.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.There was also the added perk of providing some freight business.As interubans expanded they did indeed initially prove popular offering quick service, multiple schedules daily (the large Illinois Traction system, for instance, was dispatching 106 trains out of Springfield, Illinois everyday by 1906), and with fares only a few cents each way.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).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.
" 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.Depending upon cost an interurban's route either followed its own dedicated right-of-way or, with permission from the state/county, could be laid right next to a rural road.The latter alternative was cheaper but the resulting grades and curves were less than ideal, a problem only compounded when freight movements were involved.The Panic of 1903 ended this fervor but it reignited again between 19 when another 4,000 miles were built.
Once more, a financial setback, the Panic of 1907, ended investment although afterwards another great construction period did not materialize.By 1950 just 1,519 miles remained and the number dropped to 209 miles by 1959.