On this date in 1926, the 7:15 p.m. Pacific Electric red car west bound on the Seal Beach to Long Beach line made an unexpected detour at First Street and Ocean Avenue.
Normally, the red car would continue across the Ocean Avenue bridge to the Long Beach Peninsula. This time it took an unexpected turn on the sharply curved spur tracks into the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation steam plant property. It crashed through the gates, but the motorman was able to slow the car enough to avoid derailment, and the only injury was his bruised elbow.
Philip A. Stanton, founder of Seal Beach, witnessed the incident from the front porch of his home on the corner of that intersection. He had actually seen a man with a young boy turn the switch immediately in front of his house a few minutes earlier, but Stanton had assumed the man was a Pacific Electric employee.
The Pacific Electric abandoned this line in February of 1940, the bridge to the Long Beach peninsula was removed in 1955, and the steam plant was torn down in 1967. The Pacific Electric tracks of the spur leading into the power plant property still remained well into the seventies — decades past when the last red car rode down Ocean Avenue.
Addendum – There seems to be more little curiosity about the steam plant in response to today’s post. You can find links to earlier posts and photos (including footage and photos from the demolition from Joyce Kucera) here.
– Michael Dobkins
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