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SubTalk: Kansas City Elevated Rapid Transit Line (31431)

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Kansas City Elevated Rapid Transit Line

Posted by Mellow One on Fri Apr 2 18:06:18 1999

I made an inquiry about Kansas City Elevated Rapid Transit Line on the subtalk board. There was only one response at the time.
I did a web search on "kansas city rapid transit history".
Michael Good's name came up in the search. I contacted him regarding the Kansas City Elevated Rapid Transit Line. Mr. Good, who is a Webmaster at Tacnet and a Reference Librarian at the Henry County Library in Missouri, sent this information to us for the subtalk board.

This is his response:

The only book I know about that says anything about the Kansas City
elevated in Geroge W. Hilton book "The Cable Car in America".
It was printed by Howell-North in 1971 and reprinted in paperback
in 1997. You can find it at Amazon.com and probably most large libraries
would have a copy. All the information I have comes from that book.

The Kansas City elevated line extended from near 5th & Central on the
bluff in Kansas City, Kansas east above Central and 9th Streets across the
West Bottoms to St. Louis Avenue, then east over private right of way to
the west portal of the tunnel through Quality Hill. It was always more or
less a part of the streetcar system, rather than being an independent
rapid transit system like the New York and Chicago Els; the entry into
downtown ran through the Quality Hill tunnel and then on street trackage
on 8th Street.

The pictures in Hilton's book show two stations, at St. Louis Avenue and
at Mulberry St; I suspect there were others. St. Louis Avenue was
originally the station where the change from steam dummy to cable traction
was made and also close to the original (1877-1914) Kansas City Union
Depot. From the pictures of the el in its early days and a picture near
the end of operations in the 1950s the structure must have been almost
totally rebuilt at some point to a much heavier standard.

The elevated was built by the Inter-State Consolidated Rapid Transit
Railway as part of a mixed system of steam dummy surface trackage plus a
cable line in what is now Kansas City, Kansas, the elevated steam dummy
trackage to St. Louis Avenue, and a cable line thence through the Quality
Hill tunnel into downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

ISCRT opened its steam dummy line on October 10, 1886, from the elevated
station at St. Louis Avenue (just north of the old Union Depot), westerly
above 9th Street and Central across the Kansas River to ground level at
5th Street, then north on 6th to Washington Boulevard, east on Washington
to 5th, and north on 5th to Edgerton Place. In 1887 a branch of the steam
dummy system was built 5th Street in Wyandotte west via Stewart and
Glendale to Chelsea Park, an amusement part established by the ISCRT's

On April 24, 1888 ISCRT opened its cable line, extended from the St. Louis
Avenue Station on an elevated line to the Quality Hill bluff, then through
a 880-ft tunnel on an 8% grade to a portal at 8th & Washington, and east
on 8th to Delaware Street. Powerhouse for the cable was at the west portal
of the tunnel, above Bluff Street.

On May 22, 1888 ISCRT opened its Riverview cable line, extending
from a connection with the dummy at 5th & Riverview Blvd (now Central),
west on Riverview to 18th Street, with a powerhouse at 10th Street.

The original plan of the ISCRT was for special non-passenger carrying grip
cars to haul the dummy line passenger cars into downtown, but it soon
proved that even with the reduced grade the tunnel provided the load was
too much and sometime in the summer of 1888 the 8th Avenue line traded
equipment with the Riverview cable line, which had standard grips and
trailers. After the switch the Riverview line worked its traffic with
dummy line passenger cars hauled behind the non-passenger carrying grips.
Main line passengers changed cars at St. Louis from dummy line equipment
to cable equipment.

In October of 1889 the ISCRT went bankrupt, and the Kansas City, Kansas
council approved converting the Riverview line to steam dummy operation,
which conversion was carried out on January 3, 1890.

In 1892 the ISCRT was reorganized as the Kansas City Elevated Railway.
In the summer of 1892 the 8th Street cable line was converted to electric
operation using standard streetcar technology. By March 1, 1893 the entire
system had been converted to electricity.

In May of 1894 the Metropolitan Railway bought control of Kansas City
Elevated, but for legal reasons continued to operate it separately for a
number of years.

In 1904 the Quality Hill tunnel was rebuilt, reducing the grade from 8%
to 5% and moving the east portal two blocks east to Broadway & 8th Street.
This allowed Metropolitan to permit more than one car to be in the tunnel
at one time, increasing its capacity. The Elevated became one of the main
routes into Kansas City for the streetcars from Kansas City, Kansas until
all electric operations ceased in the 1950s. At that time the tunnel
portals were sealed up, although the tunnel itself is still in existence.
A year or two ago the Kansas City Star had an article about the tunnel,
which is apparently in very good shape still.

Hope this helps.

Michael Good mgood@tacnet.missouri.org
Webmaster at TACnet http://tacnet.missouri.org
Reference Librarian,
Henry County Library ayc000@mail.connect.more.net

I have already thanked Mr. Good for the info.
If someone would like to follow up this info with a route map,
or the route superimposed on a map of Kansas City, that would be helpful also.

Mellow One


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