The Electra

Pacific Electric Railway

Electric Locomotive

Built by:

North Shore Railroad

Tiburon Shops – 1902

Power Source:

Overhead Wire – 600 volts

Weight:

50 Tons

Donated by:

Pacific Electric Railway – 1953

The "Electra" helping to clean-up debris after the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

This one-of-a-kind, electric locomotive, named “Electra”,  was home-built in 1902 by the newly established North Shore Railroad of the San Francisco Bay Area.  Its unique sloped ends were fabricated from two steam locomotive tender tanks, wedged on either side of a cab. To add weight for the locomotive’s traction, the two tanks were filled with water or sand as ballast.  Unfortunately, the “Electra” was not a complete success for the North Shore Railroad – 500-horsepower motors drew such large amounts of electricity that other electric cars along the line would slow to a crawl.  Nonetheless, when duty called after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the Electra worked along with steam locomotives to haul away the mountains of rubble and debris!

Here's another 1907 look at the earthquake clean-up efforts from OpenSFHistory.org.

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More Interesting Information:

Deemed impractical for the North Shore Railroad, the “Electra” was sold to the Central Pacific Railway and then to the Los Angeles area Pacific Electric Railway in 1917.  Pacific Electric put the “Electra” to work on various construction projects and switching duties throughout Los Angeles.

In 1925, the “Electra” labored on the construction of L.A.’s first subway system; specifically, a tunnel for street cars which ran underground from Westlake Park to the Subway Terminal Building downtown on Pershing Square.  The “Electra” performed its last duties as a switch engine at the Pacific Electric’s vast repair shops in Torrance, California until its retirement in 1952.  “Where’s Electra?”… can you find the locomotive in the photo below?

Travel Town Volunteer, Alan Weeks, took this photo of Pacific Electric's Torance Shops on July 29, 1948.
One of a series of postcards depicting "reconstruction efforts" that were issued by the San Francisco Examiner after the big quake.