Recreating the equipment roster for the Columbus streetcar system has been greatly aided by work the late B.J. Kern did in combing the records of the Columbus & Southern Ohio Electric Co. in the 1950's. One source of information was an inventory prepared by the Columbus Railway Power & Light Company in January 1911 of all equipment it owned as of June 18, 1903. This provided an almost complete inventory of cars numbered 200-453. Many of the cars before No. 200 were retired by 1911 and probably as early as 1903. These were the horse cars of which little information is available and the cars that started the electric streetcar era in 1892. Information on these cars is limited.
The Beginning Period
The Beginning Period - 1891-1895, cars 101-252 and 274-282, - covers the single truck streetcar period and single truck trailers that were probably converted horse cars. The electric streetcars were popular right from the start and the streetcar companies had to scramble to get enough cars for the crowds they were being asked to carry. Cars were purchased from multiple builders and the Columbus Street Railway Company even resorted to building their own streetcar bodies for a while.
The Growth Period
The Growth Period - 1895-1903, cars 253-273 and 284-496, - covers the double truck wooden cars that evolved into the classic Columbus Streetcar Style. They had large platforms on each end for ease of loading and unloading and bench seats to allow room for many standees.
The Stability Period
The Stability Period - 1905-1918, cars 497-668 were a similar design to the Growth Period cars with the addition of the Pay-As-You-Enter scheme which provided for better people flow allowing faster loading and unloading especially in the congested area along High Street . The G.C. Kuhlman Car Co. of Cleveland, Ohio would emerge as the streetcar supplier of choice.
The Ending Years
The Ending Period - 1925 - 1937, cars 700-915 saw a change to one man cars and cars with steel bodies. Cars 700-723 were the last new cars purchased by Columbus Railway Power & Light Company. After that used streetcars were available as replacements for the 500 and 600 series cars. The 700-915 cars would serve the system while the $8 million, 1933-1948 modernization program, that would eliminate the streetcars, was completed.
From the very beginning up to 1917 heavy use was made of open cars. Open cars could seat more people than closed cars and were faster loading and unloading. The Ohio State Legislature outlawed open cars in 1917 and they were gone by 1920. Some were converted to closed cars. Open cars were a great way to ride to one of the amusement parks or to just have a cool ride on a hot summer evening.
Along with the streetcar rosters, listed on the left, is additional information, photos and, in some cases, detail drawings by Donald A. Kaiser of selected Columbus Streetcar equipment.