Photo of the Month - December 2010
ca. 1900 Line Wagons
When the last horse car line was electrified in 1892 the streetcar company still had use for horses. They were used for pulling construction wagons and, as this photo shows, pulling line wagons. The line wagons were needed to work on the overhead trolley wire.
The building in the photograph is the back of the South High Street Car House located between Beck and Hosten Streets. The photo was taken from the corner of Hosten and Pearl streets looking at the rear of the car house. A 1909 fire inspection report stated that five horses were stabled at the South High Car House along with two wagons.
The wagon is labeled “Columbus Railway and Light Co.”, the name used by the streetcar company from 1893-1904. The platform on the wagon could be raised and it would pivot as well enabling the linemen to easily reach the overhead wire.
The linemen could work on the live 600 volt DC trolley wire as long as they stayed away from ground or if there was a break in the trolley wire not touching both ends of the trolley wire at the same time. Most streetcar systems used the rail for the negative ground to complete the circuit.
To picture just how tough a lineman’s’ job could be imagine a sleet storm with a 30 MPH wind. That’s when the overhead would need the service of the linemen and out they would go with their line wagon.
Photo courtesy of Rich Murphy of The Murphy Co.