Los Angeles Railway Power Car 9209
Power cars are multi-purpose utility vehicles once commonly used by streetcar companies. The Los Angeles Railway widely used power cars as a self-propelled flat car that could carry bulk items across the system. These cars were also powerful enough to be used as locomotives. Frequently the power cars would pull one or two flat cars when carrying materials for track maintenance and construction. Los Angeles Railway based its maintenance operations out of Vernon Yard. A transfer connection with the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway allowed heavy equipment and materials to be transferred to the LARy. The power cars were used as switch cars from the AT&SF and also to move LARy cars around the yard as needed. Bulk items like ballast and dirt were also stored at Vernon Yard in hoppers where they could be easily loaded onto the bed of the power car or flat cars and hauled to the work site.
Power Flat 9209 was built by the Los Angeles Railway at its South Park Shops in 1913. 9209 was the last power car built in a series of eleven 9200 class power cars. Most of the power cars were built from older cars with a mixture of standard mechanical parts that were readily stocked at the shops for car construction and repair. There are no records indicating the origin of the body of 9209, with it likely made from scratch by the company shops. Made of wood on a steel under frame, 9209 had controls and cabs on each end of the car and had a roof over the entire length of the car. Miscellaneous upgrades were made to the car over the years. Most notably, the roof over the car was removed in 1931, leaving two cabs on each end of the car. One can infer the removal of the roof was to allow heavy equipment to be loaded and transported without hindrance of the roof structure.
9209 saw regular service through the 1940’s and continued to be used by Los Angeles Transit Lines after purchasing the Los Angeles Railway in January 1945. 9209 and 9200 were the only power cars to painted into the LATL “Fruit Salad” yellow and green livery between 1946 and 1947. With the widespread use of trucks and rubber tired vehicles, the use for the power cars waned after World War II. While the bulk of the power flats were scrapped in 1948, 9200 and 9209 were used as needed in areas within private right-of-way where road access was limited. Both cars were retired in 1951. While 9200 was scrapped that year, 9209 was placed in storage at Vernon Yard. In 1955, a group of railfans purchased 9209 from Los Angeles Transit Lines. 9209 was relocated to Travel Town in Griffith Park and put on display with a growing collection of streetcars. The bulk of the collection including 9209 was relocated in 1959 to the Orange Empire Trolley Museum (now the Southern California Railway Museum) in Perris, California. Today, 9209 and the collection of streetcars from the Los Angeles Railway are displayed in Barn 1 at the museum. 9209 is not currently operational and requires a full mechanical and cosmetic restoration.
Generous donations to the Southern California Railway Museum Yellow Cars Fund facilitates the operation and restoration of the Los Angeles Railway cars like power car 9209.