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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!
For power, most interurbans used overhead catenary (energized electric lines attached to line-side poles), usually rated at around 600 volts.
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It is rather amazing so much capital was expended on these operations, which struggled to make a profit right from the start.
A few, such as the Illinois Terminal and Piedmont & Northern, bucked this trend and blossomed into successful freight carriers while the Pacific Electric Railway is regarded as the greatest of all interurbans.
As interubans expanded they did indeed initially prove popular offering quick service, multiple schedules daily (the large Illinois Traction system, for instance, was dispatching 106 trains out of Springfield, Illinois everyday by 1906), and with fares only a few cents each way.
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.
To produce the needed power either substations were built or it was purchased directly from energy companies." Walla Walla Valley Railway: Handling Agriculture Near Walla Walla, Washington Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway Service Across East-Central Iowa Yakima Valley Transportation: Serving Central-Washington's Agriculture Industry Barney & Smith Car Company Cincinnati Car Company G. Short conceived another important development, the contact "shoe." By the time main line electrified systems were introduced in 1895, when the Baltimore & Ohio energized 4 miles of its Baltimore trackage (including the 1.4-mile Howard Street Tunnel), the technology was quite advanced (according to the railroad's "Official List No.29" issued January 1, 1948 the entire Belt Line ran from Milepost 90.7 at Bay View, Maryland to Milepost 97.9 at Hamburg Street, Baltimore).The latter alternative was cheaper but the resulting grades and curves were less than ideal, a problem only compounded when freight movements were involved.Visually, the interurban was classic Americana as a car sped along a grass-covered right-of-way with its trolley pole extended high.