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Series VIII. Clairton Street Railway Company, 1905-1916

Historical Background

Henry Clay Frick founded the Clairton Street Railway Company in May 1904. The Clairton Street Railway line ran on present-day St. Clair Street to the Clairton Works, located approximately 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the west bank of the Monongahela River. The works were built in 1901 by St. Clair Steel Company, a division of Crucible Steel Company, as a steel manufacturing plant. The company was then purchased by United States Steel in 1904. The street car company was formed in response to the United States Steel buyout and plans for an expansion of the Clairton Works. The railway company provided transportation to and from the plant and surrounding community.

The headquarters for the company was located in the Frick Building in downtown Pittsburgh, although the railway operated “from the Clairton Street Railway Station of the Pennsylvania Railroad to the town at the top of the hill.” Records indicate that Frick was the major stockholder, owning over ninety percent of the company. However, other investors joined the company in 1905, including many of Frick’s close business associates, William H. Smith, D.B. Kinch, William A. Carr, F.W. McElroy, and Frick’s nephew, Karl F. Overholt.

In November 1909, the street car company was experiencing financial hardships and sold a portion of the railway’s road to W.B. Grubbs, a representative of the Steubenville & East Liverpool Railway Company, for $35,000, which was below market value. With the company in danger of going bankrupt, Frick reached agreements in 1912 to divide and sell the company and assets between the West Penn Railways and the Pittsburgh Railways Companies.

Scope and Content Notes:

This series consists of three subseries that include Correspondence, Financial Material, and Administrative Records. The material includes correspondence, a letterpress copybook, receipts, statements, reports, maps and pamphlets relating to the running of the Clairton Street Railway Company. There are also materials about Pennsylvania Railway Associations and oversized maps which are located in the Maps and Architectural Drawings Series. The material in this series documents the general business activities of the Clairton Street Railway Company and dates from 1905 to 1916.

Subseries 1. Correspondence, 1906-1912

Scope and Content Notes:

This subseries consists of incoming correspondence relating to business activities of the Clairton Street Railway Company, including purchase of equipment from St. Louis Car Company and Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company. Additional letters from the Pennsylvania State Railroad Commission provided policies and recommendations for the railway company. This subseries also contains folders with duplicates of outgoing letters found in the letterpress copybook. The letterpress copybook contains the outgoing correspondence, memorandum, accident reports and general account statements for the years 1906 to 1912. Many of the letters match-up with incoming correspondence found in this subseries. Additional outgoing letters regarding the Clairton Street Railway Company can be found in the letterpress copybook of the St. Clair Improvement Company dated September 1, 1905-December 5, 1906. Many of the letters in this copybook are fading and are difficult to read. The correspondence in this subseries date from 1906 to 1913.

Box 46
Folder 1 Correspondence, December 23, 1905-November 19, 1906
Folder 2 Correspondence, January 5-April 26, 1907
Folder 3 Correspondence, May 7-30, 1907
Folder 4 Correspondence, June 13-October 17, 1907
Folder 5 Correspondence, January 4-February 27, 1908
Folder 6 Correspondence, March 2-July 24, 1908
Folder 7 Correspondence, August 19-December 9, 1908
Folder 8 Correspondence, January 15, 1909-February 10, 1910
Folder 9 Correspondence, March 24-July 29, 1910
Folder 10 Correspondence, August 2, 1910-June 26, 1911
Folder 11 Correspondence, July 6-August 5, 1911
Folder 12 Correspondence, August 8-31, 1911
Folder 13 Correspondence, September 2-October 18, 1911
Folder 14 Correspondence, November 2-29, 1911
Folder 15 Correspondence, December 1-29, 1911
Folder 16 Correspondence, January 8-9, 1913, undated
Box 47 Letterpress Copybook, October 10,1906- October 21, 1912

Subseries 2. Financial Material, 1905-1912

Scope and Content Notes:

The Financial Materials Subseries is comprised of receipts, general account statements, company balance information, and monthly profit and loss reports. The profit and loss statements for April/May 1911 and 1912 are hand written and document the financial hardships that the company experienced. Additional financial materials include equipment receipts, ledger balances, and yearly earnings from 1910 to 1912. The materials in this subseries date from May 1905 to August 1912.

Box 48
Folder 1 Receipts, Consolidated Car-Heating Company, 1911
Folder 2 Receipts, St. Louis Car Company, 1906-1908
Folder 3 Receipts, Westinghouse Air Brake Company, 1911
Folder 4 Receipts, Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, 1911
Folder 5 Receipts, Westinghouse Traction Brake Company, 1911
Folder 6 General Account Statements, May-November 1905
Folder 7 General Account Statements, February-June 1906
Folder 8 General Account Statements, July, September-December 1906
Folder 9 General Account Statements, January-June 1907
Folder 10 General Account Statements, July-December 1907
Folder 11 General Account Statements, January-June 1908
Folder 12 General Account Statements, July-December 1908
Folder 13 General Account Statements, January-June 1909
Folder 14 General Account Statements, July-November 1909
Folder 15 General Account Statements, January-June 1910
Folder 16 General Account Statements, July-December 1910
Folder 17 General Account Statements, January-June 1911
Folder 18 General Account Statements, July-December 1911
Folder 19 General Account Statements, January-August 1912
Folder 20 Ledger Balances, September-October 1912
Folder 21 Yearly Earnings, 1910-1912
Folder 22 Profit and Loss Statement, April-May 1911,1912
Folder 23 List of Stockholders, 1905

Subseries 3. Administrative Records, 1905-1916

Scope and Content Notes:

The records in this subseries reflect the administrative functions of the Clairton Street Railway Company. The materials include municipal records, circulars, bills, inventories, schedules, correspondence, contracts, resolutions, agreements and newspaper clippings. The municipal records contain proceedings of the Council of the City of Pittsburgh, including presentations, reports of committees, and information on ordinances passed concerning railway systems in Pittsburgh. A memorandum from Karl F. Overholt of the Carnegie Steel Company to E.M. Biles, President of the Council of Clairton, documents the agreement to provide power to the company’s railway cars. In the note, Overholt summarizes statements made by Biles, including his feelings about one of the company’s motormen, car schedules, and sanitation on the cars. This agreement goes along with other materials relating to a resolution passed by the Council of Clairton in 1912. The Schedules were produced by Pittsburgh Railways Company and include “Points of Interest,” “Views of the City,” and “Interesting Sightseeing Trips” that can be reached by the railway in 1916. Brief descriptions are provided which include some attractions that no longer exist and others that continue to thrive today, including Allegheny Observatory, Phipps Conservatory, and the Pittsburgh view from Mt. Washington. The material in this subseries dates from 1905 to 1916.

Box 49
Folder 1 Municipal Records, December 14, 1915-January 24, 1916
Folder 2 City of Pittsburgh, Bills No. 4457-4477, 4494, December 17-21, 1915
Folder 3 Chamber of Commerce of Pittsburgh, Reports, January 18-26, 1916
Folder 4 Interstate Commerce Commission Circular, January 10-March 14, 1908
Folder 5 Pennsylvania State Railroad Commission Circular, 1908
Folder 6 Brill’s Magazine, October 15, 1908
Folder 7 Carnegie Steel Company Power Agreement, November 1, 1911- November 5, 1912
Folder 8 Council of Clairton Resolution, July 8-12, 1912
Folder 9 Car Inspection Reports, undated
Folder 10 Inventory, June 28, 1912
Folder 11 Daily Passenger Average, April-October, 1905
Folder 12 Motormen Instructions, July 10-20, 1912
Folder 13 Contract for Sale of Road, November 13, 1909
Folder 14 Newspaper Clippings, July 6, 1912-February 24, 1916
Folder 15 Pittsburgh Railways Company, Schedules, 1916
Folder 16 Railway Notes, 1911-1919