Electric Avenue

This street name brings to mind an era when electric cars linked many parts of the Southland.

From 1901 to 1903, several groups of businessmen joined together, put up varying amounts of capital, and purchased franchises to operate electric lines in and between Colton, San Bernardino, Redlands, Highland and Patton. Three principal companies emerged: the San Bernardino Valley Traction Company, the San Bernardino & Highland Electric Railway Company, and the Redlands Street Railway Company. In 1903 these three consolidated under the San Bernardino Valley Traction Company.

Early in 1911, the Pacific Electric bought the traction company interests and became the sole owner. In 1914 an electric railway was completed linking San Bernardino and Los Angeles.

"It was a great day of rejoicing, not only by the people of San Bernardino, but by scores of inland cities, that were also benefited. A short open space had been left in the roadway near the corner of E and Third Streets, to be closed, as a part of the ceremony. The spike used was a solid silver one, the gift of the people of Alto [sic] Loma. It was driven into an orange wood tie presented by Fontana, and the two silver hammers were presented by Rialto and Etiwanda."1

Mayor H. H. Rose of Los Angeles and Mayor J. W. Catick of San Bernardino shared the honors of driving in the silver spike. A pageant of transportation was staged, ending in Lugo Park, with speeches by the mayors and John Steven McGroarty, author of the Mission Play.

Image of an early electric car serving Arrowhead Hot Springs.

The picture shown above is an early electric car serving Arrowhead Hot Springs. Electric Avenue was named for this route. On top of the car is a sign "Pinecrest, Squirrel Inn & Skyland". According to L. Burr Belden, an electric railway was proposed to the mountains, similar to that serving Mt. Lowe, in the early twenties, shortly after Little Bear Lake was renamed Lake Arrowhead and new owners took over the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company. The route was never built, and passenger service was discontinued after a brief time to Arrowhead Hot Springs. Electric and diesel engines pulled water trains to the Springs until 1961, when truck delivery started.

Image of an Electric water train to Arrowhead Hot Springs
Electric water train to Arrowhead Hot Springs

1 Brown and Boyd, op. cit., p. 166

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