Built to Move Millions

Built to Move Millions

Streetcar Building in Ohio
Craig R. Semsel
Distribution: World
Publication date: 3/24/2008
Format: cloth 312 pages, 117 b&w photos
7 x 10
ISBN: 978-0-253-34985-9
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At the beginning of the 20th century, the street railway industry was one of the largest in the nation. Once ubiquitously visible on the city streets, by mid-century the streetcar was nothing more than a distant memory. Ohio was home to several large streetcar systems, especially in Cleveland and Cincinnati, and had more interurban tracks than any other state in the union. Thus, Ohio served as one of the street railway industry's greatest centers of manufacturing.

Built to Move Millions examines the manufacture of streetcars and interurbans within the state of Ohio between 1900 and 1940. In addition to discussing the five major car builders that were active in Ohio during this period, the book addresses Ohio companies that manufactured the various components that went into these vehicles.

Author Bio

Craig R. Semsel teaches history at Lakeland Community College in Ohio. He lives in Lakewood, Ohio.


"Engagingly written, thoroughly researched, and well illustrated." —Terry Thompson, Trains

"A hobbyist's enthusiasm, curiosity, and attention to detail exude from this technological history of Ohio's streetcar industry. . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended. All general, academic, and professional libraries." —Choice , February 2009

"[This] book does an excellent job of explaining the workings of street railway cars from their wheels to the tips of their trolley poles." —Craig Sanders, author of
Amtrak in the Heartland

"One might expect only coverage of streetcar and interurban manufacturers in Ohio. Instead, author Craig Semsel has accomplished much more. . . . Built to Move Millions is a remarkable book. Semsel has filled a void in the history of traction car builders." —Northwest Ohio History , Spring 2010

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Table of Contents


1. An Introduction to the Street Railway Industry
2. Car Builders of Ohio
3. Making the Cars Go: Components Essential for Operation
4. Couplers: When, Where, and Why They Were Used
5. Protecting the Public (and Themselves): Street Railways and the Manufacture of Safety Appliances
6. Fare Collection and Registration
7. Seldom Mentioned: Trimmings, Hardware, and Ventilation
8. The Decade of Transition, 1910—1919
9. Promise and Stagnation: Streetcar Technology during the 1920s
10. Parts of the Whole: Streetcar Component Manufacture during the 1920s
11. Streetcar Manufacture during the 1930s

Afterword: 1938 and the End of an Era
Appendix: Tables