The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955 Page: 239
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Austin's Streetcar Era
not on the electric cars; part of the crowd overflowed into the mule
cars. The cars were so crowded that many passengers stood on the
lengthy step running alongside. The space between the tracks of
the rival companies was narrow, and as one electric car sped by
another, a score of elbows were skinned, but no one was seriously
injured. The electric cars stopped only on the far side at street
crossings. Prospective riders, having fresh in mind the special
service furnished by the mule cars, did not approve of the strict
rules enforced by the Rapid Transit Company.
"In the early days of the electric cars," an old motorman recalls,
"only a small carbon globe was used for a headlight. The motor-
man could not see ten feet in front. We would be bowling along
over the rough track and see a man waiting. By the time the car
was stopped, he would have half a block to run. Everybody just
On the evening of April 2o, 1891, a deluge of rain drenched con-
cert goers who had ridden the electric cars to Hyde Park. The
current went off, the tracks were badly washed and covered with
dirt. Several cars jumped the track. The Rapid Transit Company
sent out horse-drawn carriages after the stranded women and chil-
dren. Hackmen took advantage of the situation and charged six
dollars to haul four persons or less. It was two days before the
electric cars were able to run. The mule cars lost only a few hours.
In the early hours of May g, 1891, the uptown car stable was
destroyed by fire. The volunteer fire department was unable to
cope with the huge blaze. More than thirty mules lost their
lives, and sixteen cars burned. Only three cars were recovered."
Mrs. John W. Bracken, then a child, recalls details of the fire,
which was near her home. She thinks a lantern, left in a stall, was
kicked over by a mule.
It was like a circus crowd around the burning barn. Thousands of
people watched. Some of the animals were saved. Others, crazed by
fright, ran back into the fire and perished. The neighing of the burning
animals was blood-curdling. Under direction of the city health depart-
ment, the bodies were completely burned.9
Within five hours after the blaze ended, Charles Hicks, manager
7Austin Statesman, March 22, 1918.
8Austin Daily Statesman, May 9, 1891.
9Mrs. John W. Bracken to A. T. J., personal interview, March 15, 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/m1/284/: accessed June 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.