North Carolina Railroads - Street Railways - Raleigh

Click Here for an excellent write-up on the history of "Street Railways" in North Carolina provided by Walter R. Turner.

The following three (3) known "Street Railways" were operational in the city of Raleigh from 1886 to 1934, when the last line ceased operations.

Raleigh Street Railway Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1881

1886

1894

11 miles


Raleigh Street Railway Company Mule-Drawn Streetcar (replica)

The Raleigh Street Railway Company opened the state’s first streetcar system on Christmas Day in 1886. The operation consisted of four (4) miles of track and four (4) light horsecars. The system was switched to electric, and was operational on September 1, 1891. From downtown, the tracks ran west along Hillsborough Street as far as St. Mary's College, north on Blount Street to Brookside Park near Oakwood Cemetery, and down Fayetteville and Cabarrus streets to the depot southwest of downtown. When the company failed in 1894, James H. Cutler of Boston, who already had streetcar interests in Asheville and other southern cities, acquired more investors and re-organized the company as the Raleigh Electric Company.

In June of 1888, the Raleigh Street Railway Company opened Brookside Park just north of the city near Oakwood Cemetery, connected to the mule-drawn streetcar system by a spur track.

The Street Railway Journal of February 1892 reported: "Raleigh, NC—The Street Railway Co. will build a line to the new depot which will be opened about April 1.

The Street Railway Journal of December 1892 reported that the Raleigh Street Railway Company had six (6) miles of track, the President of the company was J.C. George, the Secretary-Treasurer was G. Weld, and the General Manager was L.P. Hall.

In 1894, Johnston's Electrical & Street Railway Director reported that the Raleigh Street Railway Company operated twenty-one (21) Edison type cars on eleven (11) miles of track. Company officers named were: S. Tate as Purchasing Agent, and J. Erickson as Superintendent.

Raleigh Electric Railway Company / Raleigh Electric Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1894

1894

1908

9.27 miles

When the Raleigh Street Railway Company (above) failed in 1894, James H. Cutler of Boston, who already had streetcar interests in Asheville and other southern cities, acquired more investors and re-organized the company as the Raleigh Electric Company.

On October 20, 1898, the Raleigh Times newspaper reported: "The Raleigh Electric Railway Company have made ample provisions for running a speedy schedule to the Fair grounds, and during the week the Sea-Board Air Line Railroad will run trains from Union Depot for the accommodation of the crowd. Road Superintendent C. B. Ray has put Hillsboro road and the otner roads leading from the city to the Fair grounds in excellent condition for those who may use private conveyance to visit the Fair."

In 1902, the American Street Railway Investments magazine reported that the Raleigh Electric Company operated 4.5 miles of track, ten (10) motor cars equipped with Ball & Fitchburg engines, with Brill, Jackson, and Shapr passenger cars. Officers of the company were: William J. Andrews as President; Alf. A. Thompson as Vice President; Charles C. Johnson as Secretary & Superintendent; J.H. Briggs as Treasurer; and, George L. Womble as Chief Engineer.

The 1st Annual Report of the North Carolina Corporation Commission, dated December 31, 1899, reported that the Raleigh Electric Company operated three (3) miles of track within the city limits of Raleigh and 1.5 miles of track outside the city limits. The company also operated eight (8) box passenger cars equipped for electric power, five (5) open passenger cars equipped for electric power, two (2) passenger cars not equipped for electric power, and sixteen (16) electric motors. 527,935 passengers were carried during the year of 1899. Officers of the company were: William J. Andrews of Raleigh as President; Charles C. Johnson of Raleigh as Secretary & Superintendent; and, F.H. Briggs of Raleigh as Treasurer.

The 10th Annual Report of the North Carolina Corporation Commission, dated December 31, 1908, reported that the Raleigh Electric Company operated 8.59 miles of track wihin the city limits of Raleigh and 0.68 miles of track outside of the city limites. The company also operated nine (9) box passenger cares equipped for electric power, fourteen (14) open passenger cars equipped for electric power, and nine (9) trailers. 150 employees served 1,531,981 passengers during the year of 1908. Company officers were: William J. Andrews of Raleigh as President; J.A.P. Farnham of Raleigh as Secretary & Treasurer; and, H.H. Carr of Raleigh as manager.

Carolina Power & Light Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1908

1908

1934

14.46 miles


Carolina Power & Light Company Streetcar - Raleigh, NC

Carolina and Power & Light Company, organized in 1908 in Raleigh, consolidated Raleigh Electric Company and its streetcars, other area utilities, and the newly built Buckhorn dam and plant on the Cape Fear River. Only Fayetteville Street, of all the streetcar routes, was paved at the time. Frank Shearin, a conductor, recalled, “People in the residential areas used to complain about the dust.” To solve the problem, CP& L bought a 4,000-gallon capacity tank car to water down the roads. By 1915, the system boasted twelve miles of trackage. It served the state technical college, now NC State University, reached the State Fairgrounds, ran along New Bern Avenue to the east, and in 1912 arrived at the new 100-acre Bloomsbury Park on Glenwood Avenue to the north.

CP& L, at that time owner of the city’s electric streetcar system, opened Bloomsbury Park on one hundred (100) acres located three miles out Glenwood Avenue. Using 8,000 lights, the park was nicknamed the “electric park.”

The 11th Annual Report of the North Carolina Corporation Commission, dated December 31, 1909, reported that Carolina Power & Light Company operated 11.06 miles of track, including sidings and switches, in the city of Raleigh during 1909. The company also operated nine (9) box passenger cares equipped for electric power, fourteen (14) open passenger cars equipped for electric power, and nine (9) trailers. 150 employees served 1,675,146 passengers during the year of 1909. Company officers were: Charles E. Johnson of Raleigh as President; H.H. Dalton of Raleigh as Secretary & Treasurer; and, H.H. Carr of Raleigh as Manager.

Click Here to view a large map of Raleigh's Streetcar system during 1914.

The Electric Railway Journal of May 25, 1918 reported: "The total number of passengers carried in Raleigh increased from 2,212,162 in 1916 to 2,411,319 in 1917..."

The Electric Railway Journal of October 9, 1920 reported: "Carolina Power & Light Company, Raleigh, NC—The Carolina Power & Light Company is preparing to extend the double-tracking of its line on Hillsboro Street, Raleigh, from the place where the single-tracking begins near Park Avenue to the College Court Pharmacy in West Raleigh. This improvement will cost approximately $10,000."

The Electric Railway Journal of November 5, 1921 reported: "The Carolina Power & Light Company, Raleigh, NC, has sought permission from the City Commissioners to abandon its line on Cabarrus and Bloodworth Streets. The line, known as the Smithfield Street line, runs a distance of eight blocks. Permission for abandonment is sought as a result of decreased patronage and also because of paving expenses which must be met by the company in view of the recent announcement that Bloodworth was to be paved and made a state highway."

The Electric Railway Journal of February 7, 1925 reported: "Bus service to the Mordecai development and to Roanoke Park was put into effect recently by the Carolina Power & Light Company, Raleigh. NC, according to an announcement by Paul Tillery, general manager of the company. Two White buses are operating and a third is on the way. Buses and railway fares are the same, but there is a 2-cent transfer charge between buses and street cars. The cash fare is 8 cents or two tickets for 15 cents. School tickets are good on the buses, but the regular transfer change applies. The application to operate buses was made to the City Commissioners and was immediately granted. Mayor E. E. Gulbreth made it plain that the company was granted a license and not a franchise. Under this arrangement either the city or the power company may discontinue the buses when either party sees fit. The plan is to extend the service to other sections of the city if it proves successful."

The Electric Railway Journal of June 25, 1927 reported: "Carolina Light & Power Company, Raleigh, NC, is reported by General Manager C. S. Walters as about to begin work on the College Street loop of its electric railway line, for which a franchise was voted in May."


1927 Brill Streetcar Built for CP&L in Raleigh, NC

The Electric Railway Journal of November 5, 1927 reported: "Shipment of the four special safety motor cars for the Carolina Power & Light Company, Raleigh, NC, was recently completed. The order, placed with the J. G. Brill Company on July 16, was announced in the Journal for Aug. 13. The cars are of the one-man, double-end, single-truck type with Brill 79-E-2 trucks. They are 32 ft. 10-1/2 in. over all, weigh 14,000 lb. and have a seating capacity of 40."



© 2018 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved