Little Rock Street Railway and Electric Company

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Streetcar passing in front of the Marion Hotel in Little Rock.
Little Rock streetcar railway lines in 1913.

The Little Rock Street Railway and Electric Company had its origins in the Little Rock Street Railway Company founded on June 17, 1870. The company was granted a franchise by Little Rock's city council to provide all horse- or mule-drawn rail transportation in the city. This first attempt to provide public transportation in the city immediately failed.

A second attempt in May 1873, under the name Little Rock Railway Company, went nowhere as the city denied the franchise request. Three more attempts by various companies failed to gain traction in 1876. In the spring of 1877 Little Rock approved Citizens Street Railway Company right-of-way for streetcar operations along Main, Center, Second, Markham, and Water streets terminating at the depot of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern Railway. The company began running cars on the tracks on May 29, 1877. Two stables for mules were established at the corners of Seventeenth and Main street and at Ninth and Ringo streets.


In 1884 the Little Rock Street Railway Company was also awarded a franchise with the city and created four lines of its own. The City Electric Street Railway Company was granted a franchise in December 1887. This company received right-of-way permissions to all city streets not already allocated to horse-drawn competitors. The City Electric Street Railway first contracted with the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to develop "dummy" steam engines to power its streetcars in Little Rock. The first steam service began on July 3, 1888.

On March 3, 1891, the Capitol Street Railway Company swallowed up all the franchises in the city and adopted the name of the City Electric Street Railway Company. City Electric had at this time twenty-two miles of track, forty-five streetcars, and 308 horses and mules. The company divested itself of its last animal power on November 22, 1891. Two days later it debuted the first of twenty-eight new electric streetcars. The Little Rock Traction and Electric Company incorporated on June 3, 1895, and took over all the lines in the city.

The Little Rock Street Railway and Electric Company

This company was replaced by a franchise called the Little Rock Street Railway and Electric Company on March 17, 1903. The company was formed from a merger of the Little Rock Traction and Electric Company and the Little Rock Edison Electric Light and Power Company. The new company was given a fifty year municipal electric railway franchise and a franchise for municipal lighting in perpetuity. The company issued one and a half million dollars in common stock. The president of the Little Rock Street Railway and Electric Company was D. H. Cantrell. By 1913 the company owned 32.3 miles of electrified track. The assets of this company were acquired by the Arkansas Central Power Company on April 10, 1923.

Fare-Paying Passengers:

  • 1909 - 9,365,476
  • 1910 - 10,606,204
  • 1911 - 10,985,874


  • Clifton E. "Gene" Hull, "From Mule Cars to Buses," Arkansas Railroader 17.10 (October 1986): 7-15.
  • McGraw Electric Railway Manual, vol. 20 (McGraw Publishing Co., 1913), 9.

External links