Cleveland Railway Company / Shaker Heights Rapid Transit
Kuhlman Center Entrance Streetcars
The Cleveland Railway Company center entrance streetcars in our collection were built in 1914 by the Kuhlman Car Company in Cleveland, Ohio. In all, 201 cars of this type were purchased and they served on nearly every route in the city. The cars featured a pair of doors located at the center of the body in a drop center well that provided a low step height from the street for easier boarding. The Conductor's station was located in the well between the doors, fares were collected at street level and the passengers then climbed steps to the front or rear seating platforms. Like many other Cleveland cars of the time they had longitudinal seating on the left side of the car and traditional double forward facing seats on the right.
In the 1920s the Van Sweringen owned Cleveland Interurban Railroad would lease several of these cars for use on its Shaker Heights line, built to serve the Vans' new community under development to the east of the city. The cars were upgraded for the rapid transit line by equipping them for multiple unit service and replacing their original trucks with those from some of the Cleveland Railway's newer, faster cars. Trucks from cars 484-499 and 150-169 were used for this purpose as they were geared for high speed and equipped with powerful Westinghouse 4-W340A1 traction motors.
As built the cars had two rear lights, one red to indicate that the car's brakes were on and another green to indicate that they were off. The CIRR added an additional amber light to the rear of the cars as a safety measure for off-street running. The cars were also repainted in a green color scheme to promote the image of country living just a short ride away. Although the cars would continue to be the backbone of the fleet for many years, shortly after the first Shaker trains entered the new Union Terminal complex in 1930 several (including 1203 and 1225) had been placed out of service and into storage at Cleveland Railway's Miles Avenue station.
By the mid-30s the financial crash had depleted the coffers of the once vast Van Sweringen Empire and in 1935 the Cleveland Interurban Railroad was taken over by its creditors. Under bank control the line purchased several used interurban cars to upgrade its fleet, but the line continued to lose money and abandonment and liquidation was proposed as a way to settle the CIRR's mounting debts. To avert the possible loss of a valuable transportation asset, the city of Shaker Heights purchased the CIRR from the banks in 1944.
In 1940 the Cleveland Interurban Railroad purchased the entire fleet of leased cars outright. Even the cars from the dead storage line were refurbished and returned to service. At that time the "12" was dropped from the car numbers to facilitate repainting. Cars 1203 (3) 1212 (12) and 1225 (25) in our collection were among a group of the cars to have their third rear light removed and the remaining two changed to red markers. As all car movements on the line's private right-of-way were controlled by line-side signals, the braking lights were no longer needed.
In 1949, a long list of improvements intended to modernize the line and bring back riders was proposed and replacing the aging fleet of second hand cars was high on that list. This signaled the beginning of the end for the 1200s. Over the following decade the older cars were replaced by the modern PCC cars that the line would become known for. The remaining cars were relegated to rush hour only service in their final years and the last of them were retired from the Shaker in 1960, long after their sisters on the Cleveland Railway's roster had fallen prey to the scrapper's torches. Car 17 (1217) was also spared this fate and went to the Cleveland Transit System where it was rebuilt as their line car 024 (Also in our collection).
We are fortunate to have these fine cars in our collection, most of the more than 200 produced in 1913 and 1914 are preserved now only in photos and memories. The Shaker Heights routes still operate today as the Greater Cleveland RTA's Blue & Green Lines, although the PCC cars have been replaced by modern LRVs. The lines are all that remain of Cleveland's once vast network of electric railroads.
Car 1212, which was renumbered as car 12 by the SHRT, is perhaps Cleveland’s most recognized fantrip car. It was preserved by the CTS and then the RTA as a part of their historical vehicle fleet. The car was donated to NORM by the RTA in July of 2013.
SHRT 1212 Specifications:
Center-Entrance City/Rapid Transit Car
Single End, Double Truck, Arch Roof, Low Floor Center Door
This photo shows Car 12 out of service on the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit. (Harry Christiansen Photo, S. Heister Collection)
Here is the car on an early fantrip on the Van Aken line in 1963. (Museum Collection)
The low center loading platform can be in this shot of the car's interior, the Conductor's station is between the doors to the right and the Motorman's compartment can be seen in the backgound. The car was covered in plastic by the RTA for outdoor storage. (B. C. Gage)
Car 12 gets an assist from Cleveland Railway 0711 at the 2014 Fall Foliage Tour. Visitors were treated to a ride from the front parking area to the carhouses, our first pubic operations. (D. Rothenberger)
Car 12 is seen at the NORM Members Picnic in August of 1216. The car is running under its own power in this historic shot as the Museum's first car in operation. The decorative bunting matches that displayed by Cleveland Streetcars on their last day of service. (C. Legree)
Car 1225 is from the second set of cars leased in 1925-26. The cars had been a part of a rebuilding program at the CRC to stem the growing number of lawsuits brought by riders who had paid their fares and were then injured trying to climb the steps to the seating platforms while the cars were in motion. To alleviate this problem CRC moved the center platform up to floor level and placed the steps at the doors leading up to it. The Conductor's station was located between the steps at street level. In addition, the cars were equipped with multiple unit couplers which were not compatible with those on the earlier cars.
1225 was restored at Trolleyville after its retirement from the Shaker and was used for many years on their Columbia Park & Southwestern demonstration line. The car was acquired by NORM in 2009 along with several other pieces from the Trolleyville/Brookins Collection.
SHRT 1225 Specifications:
Center-Entrance City/Rapid Transit Car
Single End, Double Truck, Arch Roof, High Floor Center Door