Ramsey County History Magazine: Volume 18-2 1983

Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.

Volume 18

Volume 18, Number 2: 1983

Tom Lowry and the Launching of the Street Railway System
Author: Goodrich Lowry
The writer’s theme is that public mass transportation has never paid for itself. St. Paul introduced horse cars in 1872 and they failed twice in the first ten years. Later cable cars served to increase debt and expensive conversion to electric-powered cars arrived 1890. Minneapolis businessman Thomas Lowry took control of the city railway in 1882 with a variety of investors and persistently heavy debt and held it until his death. In order to raise the huge sums of money needed for operations, Lowry merged the two city systems into Twin City Rapid Transit Company in 1891. It became profitable only at the end of the 19th century. In the early 20th century, TCRTC expanded to Lake Minnetonka on the west and White Bear Lake to the east, where it built the Wildwood amusement park. After years of declining ridership, the streetcar system died in 1954 and was replaced by buses.
PDF of Lowry article

Colorfully Critical: Newspapers and the Horse Cars of the 1870s
Author: Denis Murphy
Horse car service in downtown St. Paul commenced in July of 1872, operating from 6:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. with a fare of five cents. Problems began right away. Demand strained capacity. In winter, snow forced conversion to sleighs. In spring, mud buried the tracks. Lack of capital prevented improvements. The nationwide financial Panic of 1873 hurt business. The company reorganized in 1875 and improved things, but the service area remained confined to downtown St. Paul. Problems persisted and the St. Paul Street Railway Company went under in 1878, replaced immediately by the St. Paul City Railway Company. The article is based on contemporary accounts from the Pioneer Press.
PDF of Murphy article

St. Paul’s Fire Insurance Patrol—Gone But Not Forgotten!
Author: John Sonnen
From 1895 to 1939 the Fire Insurance Patrol raced the Fire Department to conflagrations with the sole mission of salvaging as much property as possible from fires. Authorized by the Minnesota Legislature but privately financed, the Fire Patrol had some memorable escapades that are described in this article. Declining fire losses due to improved prevention eventually made the group redundant.
PDF of Sonnen article

PDF of Board of Directors