Way Back Wednesday 3/26

Our transit system has evolved to the changing needs of Greater Des Moines. Your commute would have been far different 70 years ago when Des Moines was served by trolley buses, motor buses, and street cars than it is today.

Des Moines Comprehensive Plan 1940s

Des Moines Comprehensive Plan 1940s

The transit network of 1940 is documented in the Comprehensive City Plan of Des Moines. Three different modes of transit were used during this time: trolley buses, motor buses, and street cars. The routes were:

Street Cars
  • 1 – West Des Moines
  • 20 – Douglas
  • 2 – Ingersoll
  • 3 – University
  • 27 – Crocker
  • 17 – East 14th
  • 7 – Urbandale
  • 24 – Sevastapol
  • 25 – Fort Des Moines
  • 18 – Walker
Trolley Buses
  • 11 – Oak Park
  • 12 – Highland Park
  • 5 – Clark Street
  • 15 – East 6th & East 9th
Motor Buses
  • 10 – West 9th Street
  • 14 – 2nd Avenue
  • A – Easton
  • B – Euclid
  • C – Scott
  • D – University Cross Town
  • E – Windsor
  • F – 42nd Street

Do you recognize any of the routes still in use today?

We created a map of the transit network from 1940 along with our current roadway network. Many of the roadways have remained the same, but there are also new roadways. One such change in our transportation network is the addition of Interstate-235, which bisected many of the old transit routes

1940 Transit Network on 2014 Streets

1940 Transit Network on 2014 Streets

How would you commute to work using the network from the 1940s? Would you have used a trolley bus, street car, or a motor bus? Or all three?


Way Back Wednesday 3/12

Over 75 years ago, the Des Moines Railway Company held a contest to name the new “trackless trolleys” that were coming to the city. These new trolleys would be powered by overhead electric cables, but would feature rubber wheels and no longer need to run on tracks in the street.contest
The winning name “Curbliner” was selected by the judges after they had combed through all of the entries. The name Curbliner was actually submitted by several contestants, so a required 50 word essay guided the final decision of the judges to award the $500 first place prize.contest winners.

Today, DART pays homage to these trackless trolleys of the past in the form of a conference room at DART Central Station dubbed the “Curbliner Room”.