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Transit Enthusiast Extraordinaire!

-December 2000-


By John Coffee

When I was a kid, my father always told me that when he was a kid, "a cigar was a man's smoke." The few people who smoked cigarettes back in those days were women. That all changed with World War 1, when cigarettes were the only readily available smoke for soldiers in Europe.

Accordingly it seems appropriate that the few transportation tokens that mention cigars would be those issued by livery stable horsedrawn hack lines. Livery stables were hangouts for men. One did not find women thereabouts, if only because the fragrance of most livery stables, especially on hot days, was rather penetrating.

I can think of only eight transportation tokens, all issued by hack lines, that advertise cigars. All of them are extremely rare: four from Minnesota, two from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and two from Ontario (all 8 from cold climates!). I have only two of them myself.

From Manistique, MI, we have two tokens issued by the Osswinmakee Hotel Bus-line, proclaiming the virtues of the "No Limit" Cigar, "the best 10¢ cigar on the market." The MI 595 E omits the word "cigar" on the reverse, and I suspect this is an error, which was corrected by 595 D.

In Alexandria, MN, the Kent & Son Bus Line advertises 3 different cigars, the "Cabinet," the "International," and the "Iona," all 10C cigars sold by the Twin City Cigar Co. of Minneapolis. In Appleton, MN, A. McMillen's Bus Line advertises another cigar offered by that same Twin City Cigar Co., the "American Opera Cigar." In Montevideo, MN, Faley & Pickle's Riverside Buss Line proclaims the virtues of the "Deacon" cigar distributed by the Paris-Morton Co., and sold at only 3-25C or 1110@ St." which I presume to mean 1110@ straight." Finally, A.E. Randall's Bus Line of Ortonville, MN, has approximately the same reverse as the Appleton token, advertising the American Opera Cigar. The Hotel Bedford Buss Line of Goderich, Ontario, has 2 different tokens, one each advertising "JAP CIGARS," and the "EL CIELO" cigar.

I imagine there are a few more of these old cigar tokens waiting to be discovered, and I hope I'm the person who finds them. They're fascinating bits of history, especially in these latter days when smoking tobacco has become almost a forbidden pleasure.


An article by Quincy A. Laflin, reprinted from the January 1951 Fare Box

August 2nd my wife Isabel said to me "Let's go to Duluth and visit my old girl friend. 11 I said OK and off we went. Upon our arrival there and a lot of unnecessary traveling (we forgot the address) we located my wife's friend. It just so happened they lived 2 blocks from the Duluth Transit Co., so I strolled down and inquired around. After several formalities I wound up talking to the president and his secretary. Both hunted through the safe and all spots likely to hold some of the old tokens from there, to no avail. I left my name and came back to Minneapolis. November 24 [1950] 1 received a letter from the secretary (who has retired now) that they located the loot I was after under some stuff in the safe. They listed all that was in the batch, which included the green cell, orange cell, and horse can from Duluth. To my surprise there were also several Minneapolis and St. Paul horsecars. These tokens were their foreigns, I presume. I certainly lost no time in sending them a check to cover them, all which arrived safely thru the mail and are now in the hands of collectors all over the U.S. It is quite unusual to locate, let alone secure, such a nice lot of tokens, 56 in all, and of that caliber. I also discovered 2 die varieties of the Minneapolis horsecar therein. The excitement and honor of obtaining these tokens and being able to help my friends goes to my wife who instigated the trip and who gets as great a thrill as I do over some old and desirable tokens for the collection.


by Bill Adams, AVA#2034

As you might expect, in the land of the three rivers, the early means of crossing these waterways was by skiff, pirogue, or ferry. The earliest being the ferry operated by Enoch Wright and Andrew Heard near the site of the where they would construct the first bridge over any Pittsburgh river. As population and commerce grew there was more of a need for a bridge. The Jones' Ferry was operated until about 1840, as were larger houseboats that were propelled across the river by blind horses working on a power wheel.

The first Monongahela Bridge was proposed in March 1810 by local leaders and legislators in the state capitol. The War of 1812 slowed things down, and it wasn't until February 1816 that state funds of $40,000.00 were actually tendered. Lewis Wernwag designed the Burr truss structure that was completed on October 10, 1818. John Shaw, treasurer of the bridge company wanted to hire a gatekeeper to collect the two cent foot passenger tolls, and the 25 cent toll for two horse vehicles. The first toll taker was Wm. H. Hart who continued in that job for 47 years. He was housed in a small apartment above the barn-like portal on the Smithfield Street side in Pittsburgh. Many families paid a fee of S4.00 per year for the use of the bridge. In 1867 the tolls were reduced by as much as 50%. This was a roofed, wooden bridge that lost two spans due to heavy ice flow on 1-21-1832, and these spans remained down for ten months. The rebuilt bridge was almost completely burnt in just ten minutes time by the great Pittsburgh fire of April 10, 1845.

The famous John A. Roebling, who later built the Brooklyn Bridge, was working nearby on the Allegheny aqueduct for the Pennsylvania Canal. After the fire he proposed a "cheap" way to rebuild what would become the second bridge for only $55,000.00. He created this two lane, two sided steel suspension bridge in just eight months, June 1845 to February 1846, on the existing piers. In 1859 the Pittsburgh & Birmingham Railway Co. began to run their horsecar line over the bridge to the city for a fee of $15.00 per month. This was Roebling's first suspension bridge. It was 1500 feet long, and it consisted of eight spans of 188 feet each, supported by eighteen 4 1/2 inch diameter cables, from eighteen towers. It carried very heavy traffic to the industrial South Side and lasted from 1846 to 1885.

The third Monongahela bridge was needed, but was delayed by the after effects of the Panic of 1873. When in 1980 there were signs of weakness on the existing bridge, engineer Charles Davis was hired to design a new bridge of great beauty. The work was begun in the summer of 1880, but was halted in February when the controlling interest was purchased by David Hostetter. He had a large financial interest in the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie R. R. and wanted this bridge to be able to carry railroad traffic. Within a year Hostetter owned 14,000 shares in the railroad and was Vice President from 1881 to 1887. He made his fortune by selling an alcohol laced patent medicine called "Hostetter's Bitters". He died in 1888 and left an estate worth $6,635,000.00. Charles Davis was replaced by another engineer, Gustav Lindenthal. Legal roadblocks were thrown up by river men who wanted the bridge made higher to accommodate shipping, especially that going down to Browns. Additional sandstone blocks of 100 to 500 cubic yards were quarried in Homewood, Pa. along the P. & L. E. R. R. fine, and added to the piers for the superstructure. The new bridge was built in 1983 and became totally operational in 1885. This was a steel structure that was the chief approach to the P. & L. E. terminal. This bridge required some widening in 1889 and again in 1911. It was curiously noted that each of the designers of these three bridges was born and schooled in Germany.

Rising 500 feet on the south shore opposite the Golden Triangle is Mt. Washington, or as it was called then "Coal Hill". It was between the Mon River and the steep slopes of this hill that the P. & L. E. Railroad built its' immense station. There were iron and glass melting facilities along this riverbank for a mile that received raw materials and shipped out their finished product b way of river barge and railway. The P. & L. E. built a line from. yPittsburgh north to Youngstown, Ohio, and later a link to Connellsville. The railroad got some of the necessary financial backing from the "Economites" of the Harmony Society at Ambridge, Pa. Cargo began to be shipped in 1879. The R. R. track laying engineer was Sebastian Wimmer who was the nephew of Boniface Wimmer, the Abbot of St. Vincent College and Seminary in Latrobe.

The Monongahela Bridge, the lower terminus of the Monongahela Incline and the P. & L. E. station all sat together within the same city block. I See picture of same below This proved to be a great convenience to pedestrians and for commerce. In a history of the P. & L. E. by Harold H. McLean, there is a monthly expense account of Samuel Rae who paid tolls of 20 and 50 on August 16, 1878, and another 80 on the 28th. This engineer later designed the P.R.R. tunnel under the Hudson River and the Penn Station in New York, before he became president of the great Pennsylvania Railroad.

The middle aged man that sold me these two tokens said that his grandfather lived on Mt. Washington and worked for the railroad. He saved the tokens as a memento of his days of using them on the job. These tokens exhibit both the marking of the Monongahela Bridge Co. I M. B. Co. I and the name of the P. & L. E. R. R. The time frame for usage of these was between 1883 when the railway took over financial control, and 1895 when the bridge was purchased by the city and made toll free. The numerals 1 and 2 on these tokens likely designate "foot passenger" and "vehicle" usage, and not the obvious of 1¢ and 2¢. These tokens had limited use by employees and / or business invitees who got a complimentary passage from the railroad. This is probably the reason that the discovered tokens have been so elusive. The new and ornate P. & L. E. station building was completed in 1901 and cost nearly one million dollars' It stands today as a privately owned great restaurant and office building, and is one of the burg's main tourist attractions.


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~~ December 2000 Issue ~~