Lincoln Heights streetcar from 1885 sold at auction for more than $20,000

Courtesy Bonhams


Somebody somewhere just bought themselves a 132-year-old horse drawn streetcar that apparently used  to travel between Downtown L.A. and Lincoln Heights.

An open-sided, c. 1885 streetcar was sold earlier this month at auction for just over $20,000, according to Bonhams auction house.  The words “Central Railway Company” are painted along the bottom of the car while “Ninth, Temple Block, Downey Avenue, Lincoln Heights” are written at the top.  An undated photo from the Online Archive of California shows two horses (mules, maybe?) hitched up to a streetcar similar to the one auctioned by Bonhams.

The wooden car was part of the collection of the late Lindley Bothwell, a wealthy citrus grower in Woodland Hills who was known mainly for buying and racing antique and vintage cars in the late 1940s and 1950s. But his vast collection also included a huge model train set, old gas station signs, some cast-iron stoves, an Edison phonograph, a 1929 police truck, and several train cars from the 19th century.

The entire Bothwell collection was sold as of this month, Bonhams said.

After Bothwell died in 1986, his widow kept the collection together. But a spokesperson for Bonhams said that with Ann Bothwell’s death last year, “The family felt it was time to find new stewards for the collection.”

The spokesperson for Bonhams  could not release the name of the buyer and also had no further information on the streetcar’s specific route.

However,  according to Rails West, the Spring and Sixth Street Railway — the city’s first streetcar operator — extended its Downtown area line in March 1876 to East Los Angeles (later renamed Lincoln Heights) via what is now N. Spring Street to Downey Avenue (now N. Broadway) and Gates Street. The fare, according to Electrical Railway Historical Association of Southern California, was set at 10 cents by the city.

Horses and mules pulled most of the city’s streetcars until the late 1880s when they were replaced by cable or electric cars.

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