For almost half a century, a web of electric interurban trolleys radiated from the two Kansas Cities in every direction except east and southeast. The big cars of five interurban lines sped along to the nearby towns of Olathe, East Zarah, Lawrence, Leavenworth, St. Joseph and Excelsior Springs. Ranging from one so impoverished all of its life that it could only afford second-hand cars to a superbly built system that was the equal of any steam road, the lines were built during a time of incredible optimism in the future of electrified transit throughout the country, where virtually every city and town would someday be linked together with a pair of rails and a trolley wire.
Some builders were local businessmen who spent up to two decades raising modest sums of money to build their lines, and then continued to operate them despite years of losses. Others were wealthy Eastern investors who quickly built their lines, and just as quickly abandoned them when they began to lose riders. Above all it is the story of realistic entrepreneurs and impractical visionaries who wanted to share in the riches and success of Americas transformation into the worlds undisputed commercial and industrial colossus.
In Heartland Traction you will learn:
- Which line was featured in several promotional motion pictures.
- Which line hauled bodies for burial at $2 a ride.
- Why the US Supreme Court got involved in the meaning of a red line.
- Which line suggested streetcars that could climb and descend Mount Oread in Lawrence, Kansas using underground buckets of water as counterweights.
- Which interurban was built one hundred years ago to service a small planned suburban community that grew to become the second largest municipality in the metro area.
Heartland Rails Publishing, softcover, 240 pages, 8.5 x 11 x .75 in., B&W photographs and illustrations.