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A mountain of Red Cars

A mountain of Red Cars

March 19, 1956: Old Pacific Electric red cars sit at Terminal Island junkyard, awaiting dismantling to become scrap metal.

After World War ll, the Pacific Electric Railway system was slowly dismantled — replaced by buses and freeways.

As reported in the March 19, 1956, Los Angeles Times, many of the cars were broken up for scrap:

A host of ghosts hovers over a monumental boneyard on Terminal Island in Los Angeles Harbor. There at the National Metal & Steel Corp. junkyard the hulks of hundreds of ancient streetcars are coming to rest at an acetylene torch-dissecting demons….

Currently some 200 old Pacific Electric red cars are piled three or four high in a mountain of rolling stock junk awaiting the searing knife flame of the torch.

The cars, most of which rolled to their doom on their own wheels down Harbor Belt Line tracks to the yard are stockpiled near the water’s edge. One at a time gantry cranes lift them down to the waiting men with torches and huge alligator-jawed cutting machines…

After being dismantled, the scrap metal was sold locally or shipped overseas. The recycling continued for several years, with a similar photo and story running in the Los Angeles Times Southern Communities Section on June 7, 1959.

The last rail line, Los Angeles to Long Beach, was closed on April 9, 1961.


  1. May 16, 2011, 8:54 am

    Holy cow. What a sad sight this is.

    By: dsc77
  2. May 17, 2011, 6:47 am

    Ah smart America. Lets get rid of the good stuff and replace it with bad. Morons that is why we are such a joke to other countries.

    By: Pissed American
  3. May 17, 2011, 6:06 pm

    Getting rid 9f the red cars and sealing up the terminal building downtown was probably one of the dumbest things LA ever did. You could go from the ocean to the vallies to the mountains. LA
    sAN Fernando, Glendale, Ventura, Anaheim azusa and cucamonga. The hundreds of miles of prime right of way just wasted in order to usher in the SMOG era……….yuk!

  4. May 19, 2011, 7:24 pm

    Most of the few cars that survived the demise of the Red Car system are at Orange Empire Ry. Museum in Perris (southeast of Riverside on I-215). Next month is Pacific Electric Weekend, see "" for more info.

    By: Bob Davis
  5. June 26, 2011, 9:47 am

    What a sad sight . The Red Car was doomed when a group of industry's decided to destroy it . I have done some research and here are some of the criminals . General Motors Up until a few years ago they where the once major builder of Transit ( City Buses ) . Fisher Corporation . They built the Bus Body's for GM .

    Fire Stone Tires. At one time they where the only supplier of Bus tires. Most Buses have if not at all have a different sixes then Large Trucks. Today Fire Stone Tire INC. today is the only ( with few exceptions ) is the largest company that leases tires to Bus Company which they are the largest supplier of Tires for City Buses .

    Chevron . Chevron supply's almost all fuel to City Bus Company's. When Buses went to C N G and electric you will find out that the majority of all city fleets from Cars to Fire trucks , Police Cars and almost all City and State vehicles there fuel supplier is Chevron / Texaco . This is also true for School Districts all the cars up to School Buses that still run on diesel fuel. these are just a few off the many company's
    that destroyed working mass transit that worked well and served the people .

    New York has one of the finest subway and Mass Transit Systems in The Country . This should be the normal way mass Transit Systems should work in the Country .

    We where lead to believe the automobile is much better . think how much money is spent on Tires alone
    five for each car with a spare.

    Any item you buy runs on Diesel . When ever the price off Diesel goes up you will feel it . All items that you buy from Grocery's to Kitchen Wars is shipped by Truck , Train , Ship and at times by plane. As long as the market is manipulated by oil Speculators / Brokers you will have high prices.

    If market Brokers / Speculators are free from some type of regulations fuel will be high. It would be better if they regulate themselves before the Government gets involved . Prices would drop almost 50% if there
    was some form of regulation. The average Prices would be around $2.00 per gallon. I am sorry I did get off track but the destruction of a working Mass Transit System we would save time and money .

    I am able to go on for pages but I will not. I hope you take a few minutes and think about this. We need to get rid as many corrupt politicians as we can each election cycle. Government has become Government for the Government not for Government for the people which they where elected for.

    I did most of my research on Transit in the Mid 1980s. Government has become more corrupt in the last 20 years. I hope you think off some of the thing I have said when you vote in 2012 .

    By: addvv
  6. October 27, 2011, 12:54 am

    I was only 8 when my dad took me only 2 miles from our house in bell ca. to watch in sadness the last red car to travel down the track for the last tlme. My dad had a fond love for the beloved red cars. At my young age I had already spent many amaising hours traveling the system with my dad building memories that will last my life time. We even took our 8mm camera to document the last car run and captured in on film. Later that year we went to there final resting in termenal island and walked among ruins. The picture above is how i remember seeing out beloved red cars for the last time. I am very proud of my dad for taking the time to show me the finer things in life and spending those weekends with me on the trollies

    By: m. benavente
  7. January 2, 2012, 8:59 am

    Thank Standard Oil (now Exxon Mobile) and General Motors.

    By: BleuSkies777
  8. November 29, 2015, 12:49 am


    By: CarToolCenter
  9. April 7, 2016, 8:52 pm

    It’s a shame that we never learned from our mistakes about mass transit in this country, always driven by profits and not common sense.
    My father road the Red car from Panorama city through the Cahuenga pass, past Silver lake and into the underground, finishing downtown to go to work on 1st St. in the late 40’s, all without traffic !

    By: Sean Livingston

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