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He eventually secured a contract in May of 1887 with the Richmond Union Passenger Railway in Virginia to provide cars for its operation. Brill Company Jewett Car Company Niles Car & Manufacturing Company St.
It opened on February 2, 1888 and proved successful. Louis Car Company Birneys Electroliners Presidents’ Conference Committee Streetcars, PCCs Another important developer was Sidney Howe Short who invented a double-reduction, gearless motor and also learned that overhead catenary was the best means for electrical pickup.
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It seems surreal that a train could actually fit on such a narrow patch of right-of-way where a railroad doesn't even appear to exist!
For power, most interurbans used overhead catenary (energized electric lines attached to line-side poles), usually rated at around 600 volts.
In retrospect, the financial interests behind these traction railroads were largely misplaced.
Much of the trackage was situated east of the Mississippi River as the interurban offered flexibility and affordability for the everyday commuter.
Those like the Illinois Terminal, South Shore Line, and Piedmont & Northern maintained more than 100 miles each and boasted an expansive freight business.
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.
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.
In 1889 there were just 7 miles of interurbans in service, a number which jumped to 3,122 by 1901, and finally peaked at 15,580 in 1916.