One of the most colorful yet neglected eras in American transportation history is re-created in this definitive history of the electric interurbans. Built with the idea of attracting short-distance passenger traffic and light freight, the interurbans were largely constructed in the early 1900s. The rise of the automobile and motor transport caused the industry to decline after World War I, and the depression virtually annihilated the industry by the middle 1930s.
Part I describes interurban construction, technology, passenger and freight traffic, financial history, and final decline and abandonment. Part II presents individual histories (with route maps) of the more than 300 companies of the interurban industry.
"A first-rate work of such detail and discernment that it might well serve as a model for all corporate biographies. . . . A wonderfully capable job of distillation."
"Few economic, social, and business historians can afford to miss this definitive study."
--"Mississippi Valley Historical Review"
"All seekers after nostalgia will be interested in this encyclopedic volume on the days when the clang, clang of the trolley was the most exciting travel sound the suburbs knew."
"A fascinating and instructive chapter in the history of American transportation."
--"Journal of Economic History"
"The hint that behind the grand facade of scholarship lies an expanse of boyish enthusiasm is strengthened by a lovingly amassed and beautifully reproduced collection of 37 photographs."
"A first-rate work of such detail yet discernment that it might well serve as a model for all corporate biographies." - Trains "Rarely has the story of an entire industry been told with such thoroughness, objectivity, and meticulous care. ... Few economic, social, and business historians can afford to miss this definitive history." - Mississippi Valley Historical Review "Superlative." - Bulletin of the National Railway Historical Society "Scholarly and interesting ... strengthened by a lovingly amassed and beautifully reproduced collection of photographs." - The Nation "Fine scholarship. ... The almost perfect book of its kind, a book that no railfan can live without." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
Part I. The Industry: 1. The rise of the induatry; 2. The technology of the interurbans; 3. Passenger traffic; 4. Freight traffic; 5. The interurbans and government regulations; 6. Finance; 7. The decline of the industry; 8. The decision to abandon; Part II. The Individual Interurbans: Principal interurban car builders; Notes; Bibliography; Index.