Fidalgo City & Anacortes Electric Railway

cape.gauge Sep 10, 2013

  1. cape.gauge

    cape.gauge TrainBoard Member

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    All:

    Using Google Scholar, I found the following references:

    Homer Benton
    The Fidalgo City and Anacortes Electric Railway
    Volume 2, # 3
    Wheaton, IL: James D Johnson 1964
    No ISBN

    James D Johnson
    Oshawa Railway, the Great Third Rail Wreck of 1922; Fidalgo City & Anacortes
    Electric Traction Quarterly,
    Spring 1964
    No ISSN

    Can anybody either:
    *
    Point me to additional sources of information about this railroad;
    *
    Give me instructions on where/how to look for additional information about this railroad;
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Never heard of it. But knowing that area once had very prosperous industry, I probably should not be surprised. So many towns one would never imagine at one time had a trolley system... If anyone would have known, it was Warren Wing, who is now passed on. I recall years ago, when I noted the abandoned trolley rails still showing in Fairhaven streets, (South of Bellingham), and wondered what had been there.

    Now you have me curious. Please post anything further you might learn
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2013
  3. GN-Z-phile

    GN-Z-phile TrainBoard Member

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    Looks as if both are in the same issue of the journal: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Electric-Traction-Quarterly-1964-Spr-Oshawa-FC-AE-1922-/390643543358 (Volume 2, issue 3, from Spring of 1964). The Benton and Johnson articles are both included.

    The lack of an International Standard Serial Number is a mystery, but the OCLC number is 12857440. The interlibrary loan department at your local public library will know what to do with that. They ought to be able to request copies of both articles for you.

    This ought to get you started.

    MKS
     
  4. cape.gauge

    cape.gauge TrainBoard Member

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    Using some black magic with Google searches, it looks like Google Scholar made a mistake in including Johnson (1964).

    Doing a different type of search, I found the following information.

    Financial News Association of New York(1893:449) claims the line is 18 miles long. Washington (State) Office of theSecretary of State (1894:53) claims it is 11 miles and 800 feet long. Hilton & Due (2000:9) claims it is eleven miles long.


    The Financial News Association(1893:449) claims the company had 4 cars. Pope & Stockbridge(1890:382) claims the company had 24 cars. Neither source describes them. Hilton & Due (2000:393) imply that the entire operation was a failed real estate scam.

    In looking at Google maps, and Google Earth, I'm trying to figure where the 4,000 foot bridge that The Fidalgo and Anacortes Construction Company built was. (Pope & Strockbridge 1890:32).
    Lake Campbell is a candidate, but why route over the lake, when the surrounding land is relatively flat?

    I'll have to go to the Washington State Archives, to view land grant records, corporate records, and the like, to find out where the line ran, when it officially started business, and when it was formally dissolved. I'll have to take a trip to University of Washington Library, to read Anacortes American from 1890 - 1895. Also in the works will be a field trip to Fidalgo Island, to photograph where the line went.

    Homer Benton
    The FidalgoCity and Anacortes Electric Railway
    Volume 2, # 3
    Wheaton, IL:1964
    No ISBN


    James DJohnson
    Oshawa Railway,the Great Third Rail Wreck of 1922; Fidalgo City & Anacortes
    ElectricTraction Quarterly,
    Spring 1964
    No ISSN


    George WHilton & John Fitzgerald Due
    The ElectricInterurban Railways in America
    StanfordUniversity Press: 2000
    ISBN-13:978-0804740142


    TheFinancial News Association of New York
    The Manualof Statistics. Stock Exchange Handbook: Railroads, Street Railways.1893.
    New York, NT:Nicoll & Roy: 1893
    No ISBN


    Washington(State) Office of the Secretary of State
    An officialreport of the resources of the state, up to and including January 1,1894
    O.C. White,State Printer, 1894
    NO ISBN


    R W Pope &G H Stockbridge
    ElectricPower: A Monthly Journal Devoted to the Interests of the ElectricRailway.
    Vol 2:1889-1890
    New York,Electric Power Company: 1890
    No ISBN


    The StreetRailway Publishing Company
    The StreetRailway Journal
    Volume 7:1891
    Street RailwayPublishing Company
    no ISBN

    It just occurred to me, that if I can fill in the blanks, I could write a book about it. Probably won't sell many copies, but since Anacortes is a tourist trap sort of town, who knows.

    Think the IRS would let me deduct the cost of building a model of the line, as a business expense related to writing the book‽:rolleyes:
     
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hmmm. Yes. Anacortes today is certainly much as you describe it.

    It occurs to me that those dates noted, (your post #4 of today), include more than one reference to 1893. That was a significant year, for the Panic of 1893. That ended a lot of proposed rail operations, some marginal ones, and even harmed some large endeavors. For example the Northern Pacific Railroad ended up in reorganization. What effect might that event have caused to the Fidalgo City & Anacortes? I do have a bit of difficulty believing they might have employed as many as 24 cars, even if some were just unpowered passenger trailers. However, back then it could have happened. A lot of enterprises started out in great optimism.
     
  6. cape.gauge

    cape.gauge TrainBoard Member

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    According to The Financial News Association of New York (1893) the firm's ca
    pitalizationin 1893 was US$250,000, with bonded debt at US$150,000.

    The financial panic hit Anacortes in 1891.
    Hilton & Due (2000) is the only source I've found, that implies the railroad went out of business before 1893.
    Washington (State) Office of he Secretary of State (1894) is the only source I've found, that implies it was in business after 1893.
    All of the other sources state that it went under as a result of the Panic of 1893.

    You're right. That does seem to be too many. Unless service was hourly, four cars seems to me to be too few.
     
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Do you have any demographics for the area, during those years? Pre-automobile mass use, if there were a good number of people resident, the company might have found a decent ridership. Then a service such as hourly would explain that number of motors.
     
  8. cape.gauge

    cape.gauge TrainBoard Member

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    Quoting http://www.anacortes.org/history.cfm
    On January 1, 1890 the population was around 200; by mid-March it had increased to 2,000, streets and buildings were being built, the price of lots went from $50 per acre to up to $3,000 for a corner lot. Later in 1890 when Anacortes was not selected as the railroad terminus the town experienced a depression, hundreds of people left, large amounts of money were lost, the tents disappeared, hotels emptied, but the buildings remained, some until the present day. In 1891 Anacortes incorporated as a city, and began the road to economic recovery and a new identity as a fish and lumber town.

    Quoting Wikipedia articles on Anacortes, Fidalgo Island, and Skagit County:
    • Anacortes: 1890: 1,131
    • Anacortes: 1900: 1,476
    • Anacortes: 2010: 15,778
    • Fidalgo Island: 2010: 20,700
    • Skagit County: 1890: 8,747
    • Skagit County: 1900: 14,272
    • Skagit County: 2010: 116,901

    Looking at current (201309) bus schedules.:
    • Island Transit Route 411W Oak Harbor to Skagit County, has twelve trips per day in each direction, roughly once an hour. It looks like two buses are assigned to this route. This route goes within one kilometer of Dewey Beach, which was the southern terminus of the line. This looks like the only bus to serve south Fidalgo Island.
    • Skagit Transit Route 410 March's Point to Anacortes Ferry Terminal, has eleven trips per day, in each direction, roughly once an hour. It looks like one bus is assigned to this route. I don't how close it gets to any stations used by Fidalgo City and Anacortes Electric.
    • Skagit Transit Route 49 Anacortes 10th St & Q Ave to Island Hospital, has eleven trips per day, roughly once an hour. This route runs in a clockwise direction. It looks like one bus is assigned to this route. This bus either shares duties with another route, or else the bus driver gets extremely long breaks between runs.

    All of which implies that four cars would have been adequate, and twenty-four cars very unlikely.

    I'm waiting for a copy of the article in Electric Traction Quarterly.
     
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I am wondering which railroad company terminus they were expecting? Prior to 1890, NP had established their western end point. I don't recall reading that GN was ever interested in such a place as Anacortes, for such a major final point. Tacoma and Seattle were far better possibilities even before 1890. MILW and UP (OR&N) came along much later.
     
  10. cape.gauge

    cape.gauge TrainBoard Member

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    Northern Pacific.

    Small town boosterism.

    I didn't write the down the publication information, but one of the early settlers of Fidalgo Island argued that Fidalgo Island should be, because it is naturally as important to the west coast, as Manhatten Island is to the east coast. Consequently, the railroad companies should be beating a path to Anacortes, to establish the western terminus of their transcontinental lines.
     
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's interesting. NP had already reached their western terminus a few years before 1890. Those folks in Anacortes had some very wild aspirations.
     
  12. cape.gauge

    cape.gauge TrainBoard Member

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    The idea that Anacortes is the natural west coast terminus of a cross country railroad had its origins in a survey done on behalf of the President of the United States, during the early to mid-1850s. Amos Bowman was given a copy of that report in the late 1860's, and promptly became a promoter of Anacortes as the natural terminus of a cross-country line.

    Northern Pacific owned quite a bit of land on Fidalgo Island. The Oregon Improvement Company was heavilly invested in Fidalgo Island. A third railway company was actively purchasing land in Skagit county, and looking very hard at Fidalgo Island. This interest in Fidalgo Island by the railroad companies led many to believe that Anacortes was going to be the biggest railroad terminus on the west coast.

    On 1 January 1890, the population of Anacortes was under 200. By 1 July, the population had hit 3,000, and was still growing daily. On 5 August 1890, the railroad line to Sedro was opened. This would have opened the floodgates to further immigration, but in late August, The Oregon Improvement Company could not meet its payroll. That is when the exodus started, and by the end of the year, the population was barely above that with which it had started the year.

    Despite its capitalization (US$250,000), it could not afford to generate the electricity that the line required. Any projected revenue from the sale of land dissapeared the day that The Oregon Improvement Company failed to pay its employees.

    I'm starting to think that the wonder of the line, is that it even managed to run one day.
     
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    My thought in noting the NP already at Tacoma, is that Anacortes speculators should have initially realized their chances for getting a company which was already settled to literally pack up and move was a huge gamble.

    I have been looking through my boxes for a trolley book which had some references to obscure companies. As yet cannot lay my hands on that item.
     
  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Found it.

    Central Electric Railfans Association ("CERA")- Trolley Sparks #95: The Electric Railroads of Washington State. (November, 1951)

    43. Fidalgo City & Anacortes Railway Company:

    A very brief paragraph on page 79 states "Organized in june 1890, the company constructed an 11 miles electric line between Fidalgo City and Anacortes and placed it in operation March 29, 1891. The line operated until 1893 when it was abandoned. Line abandoned shortly thereafter."

    Citations are given as "H of S and S, p. 214; Poor's, 1891, 1235."
     

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