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Visually, the interurban was classic Americana as a car sped along a grass-covered right-of-way with its trolley pole extended high.

In 1889 there were just 7 miles of interurbans in service, a number which jumped to 3,122 by 1901, and finally peaked at 15,580 in 1916.These numbers slowly receded into the 1920's as abandonment hastened through the 1930's.Sprague failed to interest the New York Elevated but others were impressed.He eventually secured a contract in May of 1887 with the Richmond Union Passenger Railway in Virginia to provide cars for its operation. Brill Company Jewett Car Company Niles Car & Manufacturing Company St.Depending upon cost an interurban's route either followed its own dedicated right-of-way or, with permission from the state/county, could be laid right next to a rural road.

The latter alternative was cheaper but the resulting grades and curves were less than ideal, a problem only compounded when freight movements were involved.In the scene, captured by Scott Hartley, Claremont & Concord 44-tonner #31 totes a single boxcar along the former interurban's rickety trackage skirting State Route 103 at West Claremont, New Hampshire during October of 1976.It seems surreal that a train could actually fit on such a narrow patch of right-of-way where a railroad doesn't even appear to exist!However, instead of serving a single municipality this new operation would link two or more.In an era before automobiles, when steel rails handled nearly all interstate and intercity travel, the interurban concept seemed viable, in theory.To make matters worse they contained extremely high operating ratios of 85-90% (some were even greater than 100%) while the average rate of return never exceeded 3%.