As a youth living in Oakland, one of my greatest thrills was when I got to go to Vinewood Park, on the big Vinewood interurban-type cars that pulled one or two long trailers. These cars were equipped with locomotive-type pilots, with melodious four-tone Ohio Brass Co. air whistles, and had spacious 14-ft. baggage compartments up front. They were to have been used on the projected Kansas City, Lawrence & Topeka Interurban line, and even as late as 1924 plans were made to house and service all KCL&T cars here, and do all the heavy machine work in the Topeka Railway shops. But the Fort-to-Fort highway being built in 1923-24, and ever-increasing sales of automobiles, dealt a death blow to the planned interurban line.

After graduating from Topeka High School in 1921, I worked for short periods for two transportation firms, Yellow Cab, and Santa Fe system, leaving the latter firm in 1922 when a strike was impending. I went to work for the Topeka Railway Company on May 16, 1922, and remained with that company and it’s successors for forty years.

 

When I started with Topeka Railway it was operating nothing but street cars, mostly two-man cars with a few one-man units, and employed around 225 men and women. Due to my youth, I was hired to carry change for car conductors. I worked two shifts daily, from 5 to 11 A.M., and from 4 to 11 P.M., however I always caught the 10:54 P.M. Lowman car for home, not feeling at all guilty about leaving six minutes ahead of time. As with all other street car jobs, mine was seven days a week.

I ran most of my student trips, when training for motorman, with veterans Albert Brooke, Sam Kinnie, and Howard Z. Hawkes. Everybody along the Highland Park line loved Al Brooke, often bringing him gifts of cake and candy.

Most of my years were spent in the superintendent’s office and in the accounting department. For many years Arthur W. (Cap) Freeman, superintendent, was my boss. He had started as a motorman on the Vinewood cars in the early days, and used to tell me of his experiences. He also

 

served as motorman of the electric freight locomotive that hauled rock from the company owned quarry east of Vinewood Park, as well as grain and cattle from docks and loading pens near the park.

On July 31, 1962, I left the Topeka Transportation Company carrying with me the kind blessing of the firm’s president, Albert S. Moore. With fond memories I look back on my forty years experience in transit operations involving street cars, trolley coaches, electric freight locomotives and finally, motor buses. I am proud to state that most of those years were spent serving two of the finest gentlemen I have ever known, Al Moore and the late A. W. “Cap” Freeman.

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Mission Statement

 

RAY HILNER’S REMINISCENCES
Forty Years in Street Transportation Service
(Page 136)

 

 

 

 

 

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Freight train with Topeka Railway’s electric locomotive, probably on Jackson Street near the Rock Island switch tracks. In 1905, this single locomotive handled an average of 15 cars a day, ten of which were cut or crushed stone from the Vinewood quarry.

One factor that contributed to the speedy construction of the Santa Fe office building was intra-city transportation of 350 cars of materials from railroad yards to the site of the new building. Photo by Ray Hilner.

 

 

 

 

 

Ray Hilner
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Although he has given generously of his time in advising the editors of the BULLETIN regarding technical aspects of street railway operations, Ray C. Hilner, with characteristic modesty, has declined the title due him--that of Technical Editor. Moreover, Mr. Hilner has invited the editors to help themselves to his extensive collection of street transportation photographs, pamphlets and clippings. This we have done, as is noted by the numerous credit lines, “Photo, Ray Hilner.”