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United Railways Streetcar Operations in St. Louis, Missouri

All of the very interesting photos in this post are of United Railways equipment, trucks and cars, that were taken at various times from the early teens on through to 1924. As in many big cities, street car or street railway operations as they were also called, were started in the mid-1850s in St. Louis.

The United Railways and Electric Company was a large street railway operation that had routes in many cities across the country. The Company ran the streetcars in St. Louis until the Public Service Commission took over in the city a number of years later.

The very interesting tower truck (above and below) and its trusty mascot wearing googles, was used for servicing the electric lines and equipment throughout the city. It required a driver and also a lineman who worked off of the upper platform.


The two photos (above) show us a good close up views of the truck by an unknown maker and also the platform at the top that could be rotated 360 degrees by the operator. Note the hand crank and gear drive arrangement to rotate the platform.

The photo (above) shows the United Railways station where the Eads Bridge crossed the Mississippi River. At this point the tracks made a loop in front of the station so that the cars could return on Washington Ave. The Eads Bridge Trolley Station sign can be seen over the station at the right. Note the impressive “The Electric Way” signage which must have been quite a site at night at the time.


Left to right (above) are three photos taken during 1919 of some of the sportiest cars that were in the United Railway fleet in St. Louis; a circa 1909 Chalmers roadster which has been updated with electrical equipment, a mid-teens Buick roadster and a Hudson Cabriolet.

This photo depicts the Washington Ave. to North 4th Street streetcar line as it meets the Eads Bridge Station. The photo is dated 1924 and addition to the streetcars, three double-decker buses that were the competition at the time can also be seen. You can learn much more about the St. Louis streetcars here.

The photos are courtesy of Joe Sonderman who has a  Route 66 photo  collection (scroll down) that we have been posting in a series. He has written many interesting books about Route 66, one covering Arizona you can see here.

9 responses to “United Railways Streetcar Operations in St. Louis, Missouri

  1. OSHA Would have a heart attack and come totally unglued if that line truck was seen working today ! Makes me wonder how , without their regulations, We managed to not all be killed .

  2. The Buick roadster looks to be a 1915 C-54. It is unusual in having built-in cowl lights. It has had its hubcaps polished – they usually have dark colour highlighting the Buick name in them.

    The line truck looks to be a modified fire truck. I am not sure of the make but I think a ‘mystery truck’ with a similar radiator has appeared on a site somewhere – maybe aaca??

  3. Though I don’t like hair splitting, I would say the Chalmers is a little bit younger (1910 or 1911, on the basis of the rounded rear fenders). I agree fully with the Buick 1915 C54, which I don’t think is a very common appearance. Finally, the Hudson seems to me a 1916 or 1917 Super Six coupe. The United Railways truck is a mystery to me untill now, though I must admit I’m not really a truck man.

    Rests me to wish you all a happy and healthy 2013.

  4. Guys…
    the Buick Roadster is a 1916 D44
    on the 116 in wheelbase.

    yes. the cowl lights are not factory original, but most likely added on as aftermarket.

    Also… the rear “bustle-back” look to the body signifies D44, as the D54 had what was the latest vogue at that time… the “streamline” body, with deck resembling the current yacht design.
    The rear deck was fairly level with the body instead of cut in, and down in a “trunk” like fashion.

    the B, C, and D54’s were monsters on a 130 in wheelbase.
    looking from the rear of the door opening to the front of the rear fender, there’s no way the car pictured is a massive 54 model.

    The 54’s were for rich, and most were used as fire chief cars…Extremely powerful, fast, and reliable service, with Walter Marr’s free-breathing
    Valve-in-Head patented Engine.

    Also…. the split, ventilating windshield.
    The C, and D54’s had a very elite standup, “picture-window” style one-piece windshield.

    I believe there are 2 C54’s known to exist…a rumor of a B54, and only 1 D54 known to man.

    to see one is to never forget it.

    they are just massive, huge, jaunty, get out of my way roadsters.. like a locomotive.


    hope this helps.

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