SBHRF Hosts “Sunday in the Park With The Red Car” Event

The iconic Seal Beach Red Car formally started a new chapter in its storied history on April 23 with the official transfer of the car’s ownership from the Seal Beach Lions to the recently formed Seal Beach Historic Resources Foundation.

Lions President Scott Weir and SBHRF President Deb Machen both inked the contract memorializing the transfer at the “Sunday in the Park With the Red Car Event held on the greenbelt.

The event featured an interactive Red Car display (inside and outside the Red Car), a surfin’ Seal Beach display featuring Harbour Surfboards by the Seal Beach Boardriders, and a Los Alamitos High Jazz Combo, a balloon twisting clown, story time by dapper Jim Quinlan, old-fashioned treats and a first peak at the newly decorated Centennial Cottage, compliments of Esther Kenyon and Jim Quinlan.

Also present were Mayor Tom Moore and his fellow Seal Beach City Council members Joe Kalmick, Schelly Sustarsic, Lisa Landau and Nathan Steele.

The inimitable Aunt Gerty was among the more than 100 attendees.

The Lions took over ownership of the Red Car in 2021 when the previous Seal Beach Historical Society suddenly emptied the car of its contents and moved out of town.

The Red Car was a symbol of the Historical Society when it was purchased in 1974, after a 5-year search. It cost $350. The red paint was applied by local boy and girl scouts, the platforms were supplied by woodshop classes at Long Beach State, and the rails were provided by the Naval Weapons Station.

Car 1734, the Seal Beach Red Car was not a passenger car but a Tower Car used to make repairs to the system’s overhead electrical power lines. The Red Cars made their debut in Philip A. Stanton’s new Bay City development in June 1904 as part of a spur line running from Willow Station in Long Beach “conveniently” running to and thru properties owned by the PE co-founder I.W. Hellman. (Yes, he of Hellman Ranch fame.)

The line continued down 10 blocks to Anaheim Landing and within a few months, to Newport Beach.
This made accessing the town much easier. Prior to this, visitors had to either travel the
dirt road from Los Alamitos, or ferry across Alamitos Bay from Belmont Shore to the the wharf
on 5th Street between Central & Electric.

“The station” for passengers was a bench at the 5th and the ocean side of Electric. In 1913 a spur line was run down Main Street and Ocean connecting newly renamed Seal Beach with downtown Long Beach.

The Red Cars served Seal Beach for over 35 years, but as the passenger side rarely made money, the line was shut down in 1940. World War II forced it back into service on a seasonal basis, but it closed
for good in 1950.

Leave a Comment

Don`t copy text!