TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Old Interurbans (was Skokie Swift)

Old Interurbans (was Skokie Swift)

Neal McLain (
Thu, 01 Mar 2007 18:13:20 -0600

PAT wrote:

>[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I wish they would have
> a segment on the 'Union Traction Company', the interurban
> line which ran between Nowata, Indian Territory (or
> Oklahoma, once statehood was granted) and Parsons,
> Kansas between 1907 and 1947. It started in Nowata, with
> stops in South Coffeyville, Coffeyville, Dearing,
> Jefferson, Blake ...

Unfortunately, most of the history of the old interurbans has been
lost. Unless some dedicated railfan decided that a photographic
record was important (and his family preserved the records after his
death), images just don't exist. Furthermore, even among railfans,
steam locomotives seem to have been a more popular subject than

Neal McLain

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: That is not so in the case of ours! A
30 minute video entitled "The Last Run" is devoted to the "Union
Traction Company" (1904-1937) and its followup company called "Union
Electric Company" (1937-1947). Union Traction went into receivership
in the late 1920's -- but didn't quite a few businesses in the United
States during the 1920-30's? -- and when it came out of recievership
in 1937 it became Union Electric. Produced and narrated by John
Koschin, this video has a complete trip (actually done about a month
prior to shut down) between Nowata, Oklahoma and Parsons, KS. Old film
clips were used of that 'last run' which are spliced in with more
recent (2004) footage of Koschin discussing the interurban and an
interview with an old gentleman who formerly was a young conductor/
motorman on the line when it was operating. As an exhibit with the DVD
he has available, he includes a 'time card' (old name for a timetable)
and a route map. He also includes on the DVD cover a picture of a 'one
way ticket' between Independence and Cherryvale.

The fare charged was _one cent_ per mile, in other words a fare from
Coffeyville to Independence would be fifteen cents, from Independence
to Cherryvale about ten cents. And school children got half price
fares! Some of the places shown on his timetable do not even exist any
longer (i.e. Blake and Jefferson, both tiny villages (at the time) and
now non-existent. Dennis,KS and Dearing, KS both still exist with
maybe a couple hudnred residents each. I think the only thing left in
Jefferson these days is the long since abandoned power plant which
Union Traction/Union Electric used to power its trains from an
overhead wire. On the movie of the train ride (which is spliced into
the more modern DVD, you can see some excellent shots of the towns
along the way (as of 1947) and some of the old automobiles of that

Some of the pictures from downtown Independence, 1947 are
quite interesting. The pictures would probably be meaningless to
someone who was not from around this area, however the interurban
itself and pictures of it in operation would probably be quite
interesting. Their main base of operation and offices was in the
Terminal Building in Coffeyville (owned by the interurban company but
shared with other railroads in town), and they had the power plant in
Jefferson of course and the 'car barn' in Independence over on Myrtle
and 2nd Street (actually, it was a horse barn converted to the 'more
modern' method of travel.) But that's not so unusual; the Chicago
Transit Authority Shubert Bus Barn had been a horse barn belonging to
the Chicago Fire Department in the olden days. Anyway, to get a copy
of the DVD "The Last Run" write to John Koschin, PO Box 192,
Independence, KS 67301. I think the cost is about $20.00 each DVD.

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: "Re: Skokie Swift"
Go to Previous message: Associated Press News Wire: "Plug Pulled on Ground Zero Webcam"
Next in thread: "Re: Old Interurbans (was Skokie Swift)"
May be reply: "Re: Old Interurbans (was Skokie Swift)"
May be reply: "Re: Old Interurbans (was Skokie Swift)"
May be reply: Carl Navarro: "Re: Old Interurbans (was Skokie Swift)"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page