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Celebrity Horsecar Added to Lost Railway

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An 1800’s horsecar that appeared  in the movies Hello Dolley and the Disney movie Newsies has made its final stop in Grass Lake.

According to Wikipedia, a horsecar is an animal-powered (usually a horse) tram or streetcar. The horsecar was an early form of public rail transport that developed out of industrial haulage routes that had long been in existence, and from the omnibus routes that first ran on public streets in the 1820s, using the newly improved iron or steel rail or ‘tramway’. These were local versions of the stagecoach lines and picked up and dropped off passengers on a regular route, without the need to be pre-hired. Horsecars on tramlines were an improvement over the omnibus, as the low rolling resistance of metal wheels on iron or steel rails (usually grooved from 1852 on) allowed the animals to haul a greater load for a given effort than the omnibus and gave a smoother ride. The horse-drawn streetcar combined the low cost, flexibility, and safety of animal power with the efficiency, smoothness, and all-weather capability of a rail right-of-way.

This horsecar was built in 1886 by the St. Louis Car Company and operated by the San Diego Coronado Beach Railroad in 1888 as noted on the car until 1896 when electrification took place. Around 1959  the Railway Historical Society of San Diego acquired a St. Louis car body minus platforms and under carriage from a backyard in Chollas Valley loop of the Sd&AE’s El Cajan branch that was converted into a small shed and was taken to  El Cajan for safekeeping.

In the mid 1960s Charles Verdi of the Railway Historical Society of San Diego restored the  San Diego horsecar  number 43. By the year 1984 when it was later purchased by the Bothwell Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. On November 11,  the Bothwell collection of vintage racecars along with five (5) horsecars were auctioned off by the Bonhams Auction Co.   Alex Pollock was the winning bidder of the San Diego horsecar that now resides on loan to the Lost Railway Museum.

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