Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA


December 14, 2006

The origin of Electric Interurban System


The route then passed the red brick Christian Church, built in the late 1800’s, generously endowed by F.M. Drake.  A little further north was the Drake Ave. Public Library, an outright gift from F. M. Drake.  All of these structures were on the east side of the street, but the west side also boasted some beautiful homes. 

The route came to the Armory Opera House, built in 1899, and turned west on Maple and north again on Main St. to reach the Courthouse Square, which had recently been refurbished with new brick streets,  .The magnificent new Courthouse, completed in 1904, could look down upon the miracle of the electric railway far below, as it circled to the Continental Hotel on the east and on north to the car barn and electric substation.

One drawback to the modern new electric railway system might have been the clutter it added to the city streets.  Some streets, such as Drake Ave., were probably widened to permit operation of the street cars on its rails in the center of the streets.  However, other traffic was minimal during those early years.  Then also, one might consider the eyesore of all the wood poles to be added on both sides of the street to support the electric overhead grid required to provide a path for the electric current between the overhead wire and the rails to power the cars.

1920 was the peak year when 455,883 passengers were carried.  Service declined steadily and street car system between was abandoned in 1925.   Three Graham motor coaches provided passenger service until 1931.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
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