Sometimes we get stuff in the mail that is too good (well,... Enter Now
When Fresno Rode the Rails by Edward Hamm, Jr. (1979)
Maybe the only local history book on the topic of Fresno's Streetcars. This book was recommended to me by a former librarian, and I remember hearing about it from local Railroad enthusiasts.
The 'Fresno Street Railroad' (built in 1888 opened in Jan 25, 1889) was originally pulled by Mules until September 1901 when it was taken over by 'Fresno City Railway Co.' and converted to electric in 1902 with upgrades of rails from 20lb to 61lb rails and later 75lb rails, then the name was changed to 'Fresno Traction Co.' in September 22, 1903 and was known as that until it's end May 20, 1939, and from then on Buses ruled the streets for mass transit.
1923 was a peak year as there were 50 Miles of Street lines traversing the City and all the way out to the now forgotten Fresno Beach (River View Park) at the San Joaquin River that I think was located where the Fig Garden Golf Club is today. If you look at the Map you'll see that the lines went in all directions from the downtown heart, with the farthest north to Olive Ave, on Fresno St., Blackstone ending at Zapp's Park, and then the Fulton line, that would turn on Olive and go north to the river or west through Roeding Park and end at the cemeteries on Belmont next to the Park. There was also a F St. Line that would go through Chinatown, and a Fresno St. line that would end at California Ave. The East lines were on McKenzie, and a line once called Recreation / Sunnyside (because it would take you to Recreation park that was some where near the fair grounds, this line's name was later changed to Sunnyside), Today some of the tracks for this line are hidden under the grass median on Huntington Boulevard, it was one of the last lines used for hauling Fruit produce from Ventura and Clovis Ave to the downtown packing and shipping houses. (if you look at maps of Fresno before 1980 there were many railroad tracks set up to haul produce to the Southern Pacific and SantaFe main lines that run near each other in downtown, a lot of these tracks have been removed and converted to Trailways)
There were plans for lines to Lane's Bridge Picnic area on the San Joaquin River. (where ever Lane's Bridge is I do not know, But I'll Guess it's were Blackstone now 41 crossed the river, or it could be that area near Lost Lake) There was also plans for a line out to Calwa and Arlington Heights. (where ever Arlington Heights is) Plans for short trains to Yosemite and other valley towns were also planed. But the popular use of the Automobile helped stop these plans, and economically the price was going up... in 1903 there was $5 million planed to build almost 200 miles of electric lines to Selma, Trimmers Springs, Wawona, Central and Washington Colonies. Henry Huntington head of Fresno Traction Co. was the nephew of Colis P. Huntington one of the "Big Four" builders of Central Pacific aka Southern Pacific Railroad. 'Pacific Electric' the same company that ran the light rail lines in Los Angeles area.
I scanned a few selected photos from the book to share, I was trying to find some of the original locations and take a photo of how it looks now, but some sites have changed a lot in 70 years. There are many more photos in the book and I've seen other photos of the trolley system, that are not even in the book. There must be more detailed information in archives some place. When Fresno Rode the Rails is an informative book on Fresno from not too long ago, I do wish that a few of the lines would have been kept, I think it would have helped the downtown area not to die out like it did in the 1980s and 1990s.