Key System 1201

Built in:1895 by Carter Brothers Car Company
Type of car:line car (very early line car)
Current Owner:Western Railway Museum(Rio Vista, California)

Car History by Frank Hicks

Key System 1201
The oldest preserved line car, and one of the most interesting pieces of traction work equipment in existence, is Key System 1201. It was built by Carter Brothers, a small carbuilding firm near Oakland, as a locomotive-hauled coach Cry 21. This shortline was electrified in 1896 and two years later was taken over by OTS, predecessor to the Key System. Car 21 was retired after the OTS takeover and stored for five years until it was reactivated and used - still as a trailer - for carrying rush hour crowds. In 1915 it was decided to convert one of the now-SF-OT's cars for use as a line car and car 21 was chosen. Baggage doors, a tower and propulsion and control equipment were added. The car saw use over the next four decades across the Key System, including a stint helping to electrify the tracks over the Bay Bridge in the 1930's. When all Key System electric operations ceased in 1958 car 1201 was retired; after a period of storage it was acquired by WRM, where it has been in operation ever since.

Ownership History:California Railway #21 1895-1898 / Oakland Traction #21 1898-1903 / San Francisco Oakland & San Jose #21 1903-? / San Francisco-Oakland Terminal #21 ?-1915 / Key System #1201 1915-1958 / Western Railway Museum(Rio Vista, California) 1958-present

Facts and Figures

Status:displayed inoperableGauge:4'8.5"
Construction:woodRoof type:RREnded:DE
#Seats:n/a#Wheels/Conf.:8 (B-B)Total HP:140
Trucks:Brill 27ABrakes:SWA (G6)Compressor:CP-27 (2)
Motors:GE 70 (4)Voltage (if not 600DC)


Former San Francisco-Oakland Terminal #1201 (1915-1923); rebuilt from coach trailer in 1915