The view from Somerset (Bellflower) Boulevard in 1915, 10 years after the Santa Ana line first opened. On the left is PE substation #12. The Pacific Electric was an electrically powered interurban rail system. Power came from the company's own steam power plants, Southern California Edison, or the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. At various points along the line, the generated high power AC current was converted to 600v or 1200v DC for operation of the trains. Power was connected from the substation building to the overhead wire where it was picked up by the trolley pole flowing down through the electric motors in the train trucks and down into the steel rails to make a complete circuit back to the substation.
By 1927 passenger traffic at Bellflower had grown and the company replaced the little waiting shelter seen above with a fine new depot building.
On the left is Bellflower Depot about 1930 soon after the building was constructed. On the right can be seen the same view during WWII. About 1943 the lovely outdoor porch has been enclosed as during the war the PE carried all time record passenger traffic. The 2008 restoration brought the building back to its original 1927 appearance.
Pacific Electric System, c.1915
The Pacific Electric Railway was the world's largest electric
interurban passenger system. At its peak, the 1200 route miles of track extended throughout Southern California from the city of Owensmouth (now Canoga Park) in the west to Redlands in the east, and from Mt. Lowe in the hills above Altadena in the north to Newport Beach and Balboa Island at its southernmost extension.
These large interurban cars originally saw service in the San Francisco Bay area. Brought to Los Angeles to carry war workers to the ship yards at Terminal Island for the US Maritime Commission, after the war the PE purchased most of these cars and operated them on the Southern District lines. Known as 'blimps' these cars were the mainstay of the Santa Ana & Bellflower lines after WWII. The PE abandoned passenger rail service to Santa Ana July 2, 1950 cutting the line back to Bellflower. On September 3, 1957 Bellflower became California's 348th city, barely eight months later on May 25, 1958 all passenger rail service from Los Angeles to Bellflower was abandoned.