Monday, December 12, 2011
Handley & The Interurban
In 1900 the Ft. Worth population was 27,000, Dallas – 43,000.
In 1930 the Ft. Worth population was 164,000, Dallas – 260,000 (+500%)
I’m not sure I knew in ’63 there had been an Interurban rail line that ran through Handley, but until doing a little study for this piece I really never knew what an Interurban was. The Ft. Worth – Dallas line started in 1902 and shut down in 1934—well before our time. If any of our parents recalled it, it would have been from their childhood.
It was a 29-mile electric line that whisked passengers along at 5-mph during its early days, but had upped the speed to about 65-mph by the 1920’s. The Handley power station out by Lake Arlington was initially built to feed the power needs of the rail line, not in its present configuration of large generating units, of course, but the 2 older, small units at the north end of the power block might have been used for the rail line. They’re no longer running.
Highway 80, or East Lancaster as we knew it in our neighborhood, started out as a portion of the Dixie Highway that ran from Los Angeles to Savannah. The Dixie Highway was constructed over a period of years from 1915 – 1927. The Interurban predated the highway by a couple of decades and no doubt was the principal means of transportation between Dallas and Ft. Worth.
The picture collage above shows some net grabs of the Handley-Ft. Worth area involving the Interurban. The park was built by the traction company as a tourist attraction at its Lake Erie which was later made a part of Lake Arlington at the northern end. Lake Erie was initially built to provide cooling water for the power station condensers.
For some interesting reading about the ultimate demise of passenger rail transportation, Google Great American Streetcar Conspiracy for a number of discussions about something I first heard in Los Angeles in the 1960s when the last of their Interurban cars were still running.
The picture below shows a restored Handley business district as it likely looked before automobiles whizzed by. A map of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Interurban line can be found HERE.