C a r t o g r a p h y


H o m e


P h o t o s

C o l l a g e

O t h e r


Streetcars of Eugene 1907-1927
, 1990
Silkscreen 20" X 28"


Urban land uses circa 1912
(Orange) Public, Religious, Commercial
(Green) Residential, Parks, Cemeteries
Copyright 1990 by Laurence Aurbach
Printing by Horizon Screen Print

The System
     ...was said to be the greatest small-city system in the United States. Trolleys rolled through the streets and suburbs of Eugene for twenty years, serving commuters, farmers, manufacturers and joyriders alike. Railroads were the primary means of transportation during this era, and were considered the key to economic development. Horsepower was becoming outmoded by technology, and automobiles were slow, fragile and expensive. Eugene's desire to become a regional distribution center prompted the construction of over eighteen miles of lines for a town of 11,500 persons.
    The system was built by the Portland, Eugene & Eastern Co. for an estimated half-million 1912 dollars. Through 1915, PE&E operated the cars on a franchise granted by the City Council. Southern Pacific assumed management subsequent to that date.
    All routes ran daily on a half-hour schedule from 6 a.m. to midnight, except the Fairmount line which ran on a 20-minute schedule from 11:45 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. A ride on the streetcars cost 5 to 10 cents, and reportedly excellent service was provided by the twenty-seven motormen, conductors and mechanics.

The Cars
   Only the finest trolley cars were suitable for Eugene. Manufactured in St. Louis, the nine cars featured electric heaters and rattan seats. A variety of styles were used, including open, enclosed, and "California Style" semi-enclosed cars. They all ran on standard gauge track and were powered by 500-volt DC overhead cables.
   The cars were 45 feet long with a maximum capacity of 100 passengers. When not in use, they were parked at the PE&E carbarns located at 13th and Beech.

The Routes
1. Blair: Built 1912. Length 2.0 miles.
   This line was operated in conjunction with the College Crest line.
   Roads traveled: 8th, Blair, River.

2. College Crest: Built 1910. Length 6.2 miles.
   Eugene residents enjoyed countryside excursions when warm weather allowed riding in open-air trolleys. Day hikers used this loop as a jumpoff point for hikes up Spencer Butte.
   Roads traveled: Willamette, 11th, Polk, 18th, Friendly, 19th, Jefferson, 24th, Friendly, 28th, 29th, Willamette.

3. Fairmount: Built 1907 to the University; extended 1908 to Hendricks Park. Length 5.6 miles.
   The only presently existing streetcar tracks are located on Columbia Avenue.
   Roads traveled: Willamette, 11th, Alder, 13th, University, 26th, Columbia, Fairmount, Moss, 13th, Alder, 11th, Willamette.

4. West Springfield: Built 1910. Length 4.8 miles.
   For several years, Eugene was dry while Springfield was the only wet town from Salem to Medford. Saturday night drinking parties were so popular in Springfield that a 2-car "drunken special" ran at midnight, when the bars closed. A sheriff was stationed in each car to prevent harassment of women.
   On Sundays, hundreds rode to Judkins Point ballfield, where they spent the afternoon cheering on the home team.
Roads traveled: Willamette, 11th, Franklin, parallel to Southern Pacific tracks, South A bridge, Main.