ROLLER COASTER LINE
The gas-electric car service began in 1916 by the San Diego and Southeastern, running nine roundtrips daily. The cars were operated from First and Broadway to Lakeside. The cars were numbered 41, 42, and 43. Numbers 41 and 42 were purchased from the Minneapolis, Northfield and Southern, with Number 43 coming from the Buffalo, Rochester and Pacific Railway.
Gas-electric's lasted up into the 1930's on the Cuyamaca and were often used in race train service on the SD&AE operating to Agua Caliente.
To provide better service in the San Diego area the route up First Avenue was soon extended to B Street and then to the Santa Fe station at Kettner and B. The gas-electric service on First Street lasted until 1930, when the cars were rerouted onto S.D.&A.E. trackage to the Santa Fe station.
Motive power used on the line for freight service varied over the years using ten wheelers, eight wheelers and finally ending up with a leased Southern Pacific mogul, number 1629, in February, 1951.
Freight service after World War II was reduced to a tri-weekly basis, with service on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Leased SP 70-tonners carried on after the end of steam. The small General Electric diesels turned in many miles of hard service on the Cuyamaca's steep grades. By 1960, the traffic had again became too heavy to handle on a tri-weekly basis. With many new industries on the line and a mile extension to the Montgomery Ward wharehouse in 1961, service became more frequent, usually averaging 5 days per week.
Today the 70-tonners are gone, having been replaced with EMD SW-8's. These 800 h.p. units are equipped with dynamic braking which is a blessing on the lines steep grades.
Service to Lakeside was cut back to Santee in 1939, and cutback further to Main Street in El Cajon early in World War II. With the recent extensions serving Montgomery Ward and the Overmyer Warehouse, the line now reaches the southern limits of Gillespie Field. We wonder if someday trains might not once more whistle into Santee and Lakeside.