A moment in history: Feb. 8, 1926

A moment in history: Feb. 8, 1926

· The Pulse

On this day in 1926, Edmonton's transit system was dealing with the aftermath of three separate collisions between cars and streetcars.

The crash-heavy weekend didn't result in any serious injuries, although a newspaper reported that the cars "suffered severely in several cases," as did the light pole that was "taken away" in a different crash. While this might have been a particularly bad weekend, unfortunate meetings between road and rail vehicles have not been uncommon in Edmonton's history.

The city's first streetcar system was put into place in 1908, during a time of rapid growth in the city. It proved popular. Within a decade, it was seeing millions of trips taken each year, impressive for a city with a population just north of 50,000. At the same time, increased prosperity made personal automobiles more feasible. They all had to share the road — with the occasional mishap.

The streetcar system was decommissioned in 1951, and Edmonton's public transportation system would run without rails for a quarter-century. Construction on the city's new LRT system began in 1974, in time to have the line open for the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

Light rail transit was more separated from car traffic than streetcars were. It was built on exclusive right-of-way (often on old railway routes) and carried multiple cars, which meant both a higher capacity and faster speeds. The original line grew through the 1980s and 1990s, eventually stretching from Clareview to Century Park. It became known as the Capital Line when the Metro Line came aboard in 2015, running from Churchill to NAIT.

Edmonton is now in the testing phase for its newest LRT line, the longest single expansion since the system was built in the 1970s. The first phase of the Valley Line includes 12 stops from downtown to Mill Woods. Unlike the original LRT, the new low-floor LRT system is meant to encourage a more "hop on, hop off" approach, in accordance with transit-oriented development guidelines. That makes the train somewhat more like the streetcars of old, though it still mostly runs on its own right-of-way.

The line has yet to open, but history has begun to repeat itself. In January, a car making an illegal right turn collided with a train on a test run, prompting city officials to ask drivers to please not do that.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.