Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Arlington Traction Co. – Part 2

Before Norman C. Muller began operating his small park and miniature train near today’s intersection of South Broadway and Cooper Foster Park Road, he worked at various jobs.

According to Dr. Eddie Herdendorf of the Sheffield Village Historical Society, Muller was at one time a maintenance engineer for the Cleveland, Southwestern & Columbus Railway for one of the electric substations.

Muller also spent some time in the early 1940s working at the family business, Muller Wallpaper & Paint located at 1207 Reid in Lorain.

By 1945, he was an electrician at National Tube. At about the same time, he acquired the land on Cooper Foster Park Road. The real estate transfers in the Chronicle-Telegram of November 19, 1945 including the transfer of property on Cooper Foster Park Road in Sheffield Township to Norman C. Muller.

So how and when did he acquire his full-size streetcar?

Since the 1940s, the Cleveland Transit System (CTS) had undertaken a program to eventually replace all existing streetcar lines with buses or trackless trolleys. Thus on January 24, 1954 the last CTS streetcars ran on the Madison Avenue line from Public Square to W. 65th and Bridge. The event was celebrated with free rides and decorated cars.

Here’s No. 4144 in front of Terminal Tower, all decorated and ready to go on that historic last day.

Photo courtesy of Dennis Lamont
Here’s another photo of 4144 on the day of its last run.

Photo provided by Rick Kurish and courtesy of the
Cleveland Memory Project,  The Gerald E. Brookins Collection
By the end of May 1954, Cleveland was well into the process of scrapping its old streetcars.

The Massillon Evening Independent told the story in its May 28, 1954 edition. The Associated Press story read, “Workmen with cutting torches and shears dismembered Cleveland’s last trolley car yesterday at the Cleveland Transit System’s Harvard Ave. shops, graveyard of some 1,700 old streetcars.

"The last 26 of the rattlers were sold to the Cleveland Iron & Metal Co, for scrap. The metal firm sold one of the better cars to the Arlington Traction Company of Lorain, a transit museum.”

So Mr. Muller acquired the only Cleveland streetcar that wasn’t scrapped: No. 4144.

The book Cleveland’s Transit Vehicles: Equipment and Technology by Jim Toman and Blaine S. Hayes, includes a listing of what happened to all of the cars and when they were scrapped. The listing for 4144 includes that it "had flag-bunting for last day on Madison 1-24-54, sold to Norman Muller and moved to his residence in South Lorain, PTD (painted) green, had a whistle and pipe organ installed and fender from Southwestern interurban attached, had “Arlington Traction Co.” on side.”

It didn’t take very long for Mr. Muller to put his historic car on display.
A Mary Lee Tucker story in the Lorain Journal on May 28, 1954 told the story of a trip to "the playground out Foster Park Road" by the Elyria School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The young students enjoyed a ride on the miniature train and the “highlight of the afternoon was the visit to the newly painted green street car, the newest possession of the playground.”

The article included the photo at right.

The streetcar was even used as a dining room for the students. As the Journal reporter noted, "Our host set a long board across the backs of several seats in the streetcar, covered it with a white cloth and spread all the edibles on it. Then the children filed past, picked up their trays and proceeded to individual seats to enjoy the warm snack.

Tomorrow: End of the line

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