North Carolina Railroads - Street Railways - Winston-Salem

Click Here for an excellent write-up on the history of "Street Railways" in North Carolina provided by Walter R. Turner.

Four (4) known "Street Railways" were operational in the city of Winston-Salem from 1890 to 1936, when the last line ceased operations.

Winston-Salem Street Railway Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1889

1890

1891

-
Leaders of the growing tobacco-manufacturing town of Winston organized the Winston-Salem Street Railway Company on March 11, 1889, a little more than a month after Asheville opened its street railway system. On July 14, 1890, the Salem Band played and crowds cheered as the first cars rolled down the tracks. Frank J. Sprague, who probably designed the system, attended the celebration. The north-south line ran from the court house in Winston down Main Street through Salem, certainly uniting the two close towns. A second line from the court house extended west one mile to the new, three-story, Zinzendorf Hotel.

Winston-Salem Railway & Electric Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1891

1891

1901

9.10 miles


Winston-Salem Railway & Electric Company Streetcar c.1900

In 1891, after one year of streetcar service, the Winston-Salem Street Railway Company merged with the local electric utility to form the Winston-Salem Railway & Electric Company.

The Street Railway Journal of December 1892 reported that the Winston-Salem Railway & Electric Company had five (5) miles of track, its President was J.H. McClement, its Vice President was E.L. Hawks, its Secretary & Treasurer was F.A. Mason, its General Manager was H.S. Cooper, and its Superintendent was J.W. McFarland.

In 1894, Johnston's Electrical & Street Railway Directory reported that the Winston-Salem Railway & Electric Company operated nine (9) cars (made by Sprague, and Edison) on 6.75 miles of track. Company officers named were: J.H. McClements as President; W.H. Barham as Assistant Secretary-Treasurer & Purchasing Agent; G.L. Reave as Secretary-Treasurer; and, F.W. McClements as Electrician.

The 3rd Annual Report of the North Carolina Corporation Commission, dated December 31, 1901, reported that Fries Manufacturing & Power Company now owned the Winston-Salem Electric Railway, which operated 4.75 miles of track in the city limits of Winston-Salem and 4.35 miles of track outside of the city limits. Winston-Salem Electric Railway owned nine (9) box passenger cars equipped for electric power, seven (7) open passenger cars equipped for electric power, three (3) other cars equipped for electric power, three (3) trailers, and twenty-four (24) electric motors. Sixty (60) employees served 588,216 passengers for the year ending June 30, 1901. Company officers named were: Henry E. Fries as President; Bernard J. Pfohl as Secretary-Treasurer; and, Jacob Sigg as Superintendent.

Fries Manufacturing & Power Company

Year Chartered

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1891

1901

1913

12.88 miles

On January 31, 1901, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified a Legislative Act granting the existing (since Jan. 27, 1891) Fries Manufacturing & Power Company "all rights, powers and franchises of the Winston-Salem Railway and Electric Company..." with the "right, power, and authority to build, construct, own, equip with suitable rolling stock, and operate a tramway, or street railway on, through or over any or all of the streets of Winston, North Carolina and Salem, North Carolina..."

In 1891, industrialist Henry E. Fries founded the Fries Manufacturing & Power Company, which later owned both the streetcar system and the area’s electrical network, after building a dam and hydro-electric power plant just outside of Winston-Salem in 1898. In 1913, however, the company was sold to Southern Public Utilities Company, a subsidiary of Southern Power, a forerunner of Duke Power, in Charlotte.

In 1902, the American Street Railway Investments magazine reported that Fries Manufacturing & Power Company was a consolidation of the Winston Electric Light & Power Company and the Winston-Salem Street Railway Company - this contradicts several items already provided above, which are probably more accurate. The magazine also reported that this company operated 9.38 miles of track, nineteen (19) Brill motor cars with Ball Engines, and two (2) trailers. Company officers named were: H.E. Fries as President and Purchasing Agent; William A. Blair as Vice President; H.W. Fries as Secretary & Treasurer; B.J. Pfohl as General Manager & Superintendent; and, J. Sigg as Chief Engineer.

The 15th Annual Report of the North Carolina Corporation Commission, dated December 31, 1913, reported that the Fries Manufacturing & Power Company operated twenty-eight (28) box passenger cars equipped for electric power, eleven (11) open passenger cars equipped for electric power, two (2) combination and six (6) open trailers, six (6) trailers for freight and repairs, thirty-five (35) two-motor equipments, plus one spare motor. The line included 7.5 miles of track within the city limits of Winston-Salem and 5.38 miles outside of the city limits. 150 employees served 2,882,589 passengers for the year ending June 30, 1913. Company officers named were: Z.V. Taylor of Charlotte as President; N.A. Cocke of Charlotte as Secretary; E.C. Marshall of Charlotte as Treasurer; B.J. Pfohl of Winston-Salem as Assistant Treasurer; and, A.V. Harrill of Charlotte as Vice President.

Southern Public Utilities Company / Duke Power Company

Year Chartered 

Year Operational

Year Ended

Length of Line

1913

1913

1936

12.73 miles


Southern Public Utilities Company Streetcar

The Southern Public Utilities Company was organized on March 7, 1913 as the retailing and streetcar arm of the Southern Power Company. On November 18, 1924 its name was changed to Duke Power Company, which on June 18, 1997 merged with PanEnergy Corporation to create Duke Energy Corporation.

The 16th Annual Report of the North Carolina Corporation Commission, dated December 31, 1914, reported that the Southern Public Utilities Company - Winston-Salem Branch, Railway Department operated twenty-four (24) box passenger cars equipped for electric power, eleven (11) open passenger cars equipped for electric power, six (6) other passenger cars equipped for electric power, four (4) trailers, and eighty-seven (87) electric motors. The line included 7.5 miles of track within the city limits of Winston-Salem and 5.03 miles of track outside of the city limits. 150 employees served 2,953,805 passengers for the year ending June 30, 1914. Company officers named were: Z.V. Taylor of Charlotte as President; W.C. Parker of New York as Secretary; E.C. Marshall of Charlotte as Treasurer; B.J. Pfohl of Winston-Salem as Manager; and, J.J. Sigg of Winston-Salem as Superintendent.

The Electric Railway Journal of August 27, 1921 reported: "Southern Public Utilities Company, Charlotte, NC, has completed its reconstruction and paving on Liberty Street, Winston-Salem. An additional switch was put in on this street. The car on the Liberty Street in new track construction and paving represents an investment of approximately $40.000."

The Electric Railway Journal of November 24, 1923 reported: "Southern Public Utilities Company, Winston-Salem, NC, is making an extension from the end of the West Highland line to the Richard J. Reynolds High School."

The Electric Railway Journal of November 8, 1924 reported: "Southern Public Utilities Company, Charlotte, NC, has started work at Winston-Salem on the rehabilitation of the line to Southside. The work, including a large amount of paving, will cost approximately $6,000."


1927 Steetcar Built by Southern Public Utilities Company - Charlotte, NC
From National Brake Company, Inc. Advertisement in Electric Railway Journal of September 3, 1927

The Electric Railway Journal of September 24, 1927 reported: "I'he last of seven cars built in the company owned plant of the Southern Public Utilities Company, Charlotte, NC, has been completed. Seven cars were included in the construction program, estimated at $100,000, and all of the units have been placed in operation. Others, it is announced, will be built as needed. In the meantime the car building shop at the company's carhouse on East Boulevard will engage in construction of bodies for cars to be used in Charlotte and Winston-Salem. Each of the new cars recently turned out cost approximately $15,000. They are of the double-truck type, and are for one-man or two-man operation. The frames are of steel and the bodies are constructed of steel and wood. Each unit has a seating capacity of 40 passengers. Over-all length of each car is 38 ft. 3 in. and the width over-all is 8 ft. 4 in. The height, from rail to top of car, is 11 ft. 6 in. All units are equipped with air brakes and numerous safety devices. Each car is provided with comfortably upholstered seats. W. B. Osborne, master mechanic, had charge of the building details."

The Electric Railway Journal of November 1931 reported: "Winston-Salem, NC — The Aldermen will be asked by the Southern Public Utilities Company for permission to operate an experimental bus in Buena Vista and place its streetcars on twenty-minute schedules throughout the day except during the rush periods, when a ten-minute schedule will be maintained."



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