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.

All Aboard


Jim said...

Great memories. As I recall parts of E.Lancaster had a grass median ,I understand this was where the interurban trolley ran. In IMAGES OF AMERICA ARLINGTON there is a picture of the interurban in 1909. Of course it ran by the "Top O Hill Terrace" gambleing palor and on out to Arlington Downs for horse and car races. I don't know if it went all the way to Dallas or not. Do any Handly folks remember the "Krinbuell's" liquior and applicance store in that row of stores in the picture ? It was 3 or 4 stores East of Handly Dr and E. Lancaster traffic light. My grandfater (a lawyer) and Mr K were good friends. It was good to hear the story about Lake Erie, I remember the original electric plants but never crossed over to see them until Lake Arlington was being built along with the new plants. Do any of the Meadowbrooker's remember when WBAP put their TV tower up ? Thanks Gus for the good info.

Gus said...

Jim, I've read somewhere recently, perhaps in this blog, that the WBAP tower went up in 1948. The blog contains Tony Brogdon's own story of climbing it to put up the EHHS flag. I think one or two of our '63 class fathers worked at WBAP.

Jim said...

The old one, short one, went up in late 49 or in 1950. We moved to the area in late 48 and my aunt worked there when the building was completed in 1950? The new tower, big one, was put up later in the late 50s. I remember seeing the flag the day after Tony did the honors. We use to go down and watch the news live, they used the same studio they used for the Saturday night Barn Dance program.