The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955 Page: 238
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
efforts of M. M. Shipe and his associates. In the late 188o's, Shipe,
a native of Ohio, came from Abilene, Kansas, where he had unsat-
isfactory experiences with a mule-car system. Hence his determina-
tion to build an electric line. He secured a charter in 1890, built
five miles of track and purchased cars.
Shipe's story reveals dogged persistence:
I built the electric street railway line in Austin ... equipped it, and
erected a powerhouse, etc., at a total outlay of $62,500-without a cent
of capital. I built it against the most strenuous opposition of rival
interests. ... Eventually a peace was arranged, which later was con-
firmed by the union of the two interests. .... I had $830 when I came
to Austin. This I spent in securing my franchise, to enable me to
build a road to the tract of land I had secured north of the city, and
which I proposed to open up.
My franchise at first permitted me to occupy only those streets ...
not already occupied by some other track. But my rivals went about
laying small stretches of track on so many streets-just to keep my
line off of them-that I prevailed upon the council to amend the
franchise and permit me to lay a track on Congress Avenue and 6th
Street as well. ... I did it on borrowed capital, completed it and ran
the first car just one hour 44 minutes before the time limit of io
months allowed me expired.'
At 4:00 P.M., on February 26, 1891, Shipe's Austin Rapid
Transit Railway Company put its new electric cars on Congress
Avenue. That and the following day were gala times. The cars
were crowded all day and late into the night; about 2,000 persons
rode the cars the first day.
While Austin papers played up this news, it was given scant
attention in other cities. The Dallas Morning News, for example,
carried this brief notice:
Austin, Tex., Feb. 26.-The electric car company made up a train
of cars and trailers on the Avenue and carried hundreds out to Hyde
Park this evening. It gave the town a very city-like appearance. Cars on
this line will make regular trips hereafter.5
The builder of the electric line enjoyed good business hauling
people to see the new real estate venture in Hyde Park and taking
passengers to attend band concerts." All the riding, however, was
'Frank Brown, Annals of Travis County and City of Austin (MS., Archives,
University of Texas Library).
5Dallas Morning News, February 27, 1891.
6Mrs. Peter Mansbendel to A. T. J., personal interview, April 21, 1952.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955, periodical, 1955; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/m1/279/: accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.