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Photo of the Month - October 2007


Columbus Railway Power & Light Company's open streetcar with an estimated 110 passengers headed through the country side.  The cameras of the day were not good at stop action. The photographer got most of the picture in focus, however the car was moving a little too fast for the camera.  (DAK Collection) 

        It is not clear what is happening here, but the photo does demonstrate that an open streetcar can carry a lot of people.  The typical double truck open streetcar had cross seating for 50-60 passengers and in this case it looks like another 60 are hanging on.  A few are even hanging on the front of the car which had to be dangerous.  It is unlikely that management was watching, just hoping everyone paid their 5 cent fare.         

        The CRP&L started adding double truck open cars to their fleet in 1895. There must have been a lot of safety issues because in 1917 the State Legislature passed a law that doomed the open street car in the state of Ohio.  The law stated:

"To provide for the safety of the traveling public by prohibiting the use and operation in the state of Ohio of street or interurban railroad cars not having a center aisle running from end to end, suitable for passage by employees of the company and the traveling public."

        From the company's view point this law eliminated 20% of the seats in the open car taking away the advantage of an open streetcar over the closed.  By 1920 there wouldn't have been many if any left on any street in Ohio.

        With open cars the conductor had to climb along the side steps of a moving streetcar to collect the fare.  Kids were notarize for hanging on the side steps away from the conductor and not paying their fare.  Most conductors must have been glad to see the end of open streetcars.