Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Correspondents

January 18, 2007

Mines on Interurban Railroad to Albia

In the last few weeks, I have written about the Interurban Railroad to Mystic, installed in 1910 of which passenger service was discontinued in 1933 because of competition with the automobile. Later the railroad was dismantled in stages beginning in 1944 with another section in 1958 and abandonment in 1964.

Now, switching our attention to the electric interurban to Albia, the beginning was on January 1914 when the Centerville Light and Traction Co. purchased  the Centerville, Albia and Moravia Railroad.  The existing  steam powered railroad was converted to electric operation that same year for passenger service to begin.

In the process of electrification of the railroad, the source was the 34.5 Kv transmission line, already in place between Centerville and Albia.  It was necessary to install electric converters at each of the Centerville, Moravia and Albia Substations to change the alternating current power to direct current power and transform  the voltage down  to 600 volts.  Long brackets were installed under the main circuit on the transmission line poles to support a 600 volt d.c. power  line centered above the railroad track to carry electric power to the rail cars.  The power circuit was a heavy copper cable, maybe 1 1/2 inch.  The cable had to be quite large to prevent the voltage drop from being excessive in the between the electric converters at the various substations.

The d.c. motors on the trolley cars were energized from the 600 volt differential between the trolley wire suspended above the track  and the grounded track rails.  The current would pass from the trolley wire through an under-running wheel or shoe, carried at the end of a swiveling metal pole mounted on the car roof, to drive the propulsion motors on each car and would finally pass through the axles and wheels to the track rails, which form the return circuit.  There were two long trolley arms on each car, one going forward and one going backward.  If the car changed direction, the alternate trolley arm would be hooked up.

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