Frank Julian Sprague

This site is dedicated to the father of electrical engineering, Frank Julian Sprague 1857 – 1934, inventor of the first successful electric street railway, the first multiple-unit train, and the first high speed elevator, who wasn’t just an inventor. Sprague had phenomenal knowledge of the science of electricity for his time, was gifted in mathematics, and had a remarkable ability to get things to work. But for someone that had such a big impact on civilization, he is relatively unknown today. The successful electric streetcar with its speedy acceleration that Sprague developed made cities with a radius of more than three miles possible. Electricity was just as new and mysterious to people at that time as hydrogen fusion is today. Sprague was a pioneer in the science of electricity and worked with Edison at Menlo Park, New Jersey. Edison and Sprague were at odds with one another for half a century, mainly because Sprague was a true scientist, but Edison was more of an experimenter and promoter, with a good imagination. Their personalities and backgrounds were completely different, Edison having left school at an early age whereas Sprague graduated from Annapolis with high honors. We are indebted to both of them for their contributions to humanity. A thorough study of Sprague’s life reveals how difficult living was in the nineteenth century.

My Favorite Quote: Situation plenty bad, kemo sabe

If any errors or additions please email me.

My Favorite Links:
MilanTram Peter Ehrlich’s comprehensive site Nobody says it like James Kunstler Carfree Cities proposes a delightful solution to the vexing problem of urban automobiles. This site is right up my alley.
The New Colonist Richard Risemberg’s web magazine about city living
Dave’s Electric Railroads is the North American electric traction site. With over 20,000 electric traction pages from Birneys to GG1’s, you quickly run out of superlatives describing this massive effort, such as biggest, best quality, best documentation, etc. The site covers more than a century of North American electric traction. is probably the largest rail web site in the world. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were much more than 100,000 jpg’s on these pages, which deal with every kind of rail system in every period and from every continent.
Philadelphia Trolley Tracks This site hosted by Mike Szilagyi has a great wealth of photos and information on the long and ongoing history of the Philadelphia PCC’s as well as other local subjects like the Red Arrow Lines, the Lehigh Valley Transit Company, the Schuykill Valley Transit Company, and Philadelphia’s trolleybuses.
The Modern Transit Society My favorite California web site. They are responsible for the return of light rail to Sacramento and San Jose.

TGV Belgian Technical site. French is necessary for understanding most of it, but scientific things always have a way of coming through the page at you. The TGV signal section and SNCF specs are pretty slick. It’s a real headache to translate something like this when you’ve got plenty else to do. There are also some fascinating English language links in the bibliographies if you dig into it.
Transit Rider Nice site with a modern-day roster of PCC’s worldwide and other interesting transit photos
Joe’s Transit Album For those of us with long memories. This site has excellent coverage of historic scenes, some going back to the 1950’s.
Tom’s Trolleybus Pix Tom Morrow’s fine trolleybus site
Dallas Area Rapid Transit The people who are building a 93-mile light rail system in Big D
Mc Kinney Av Transit Authority the best little streetcar line in Texas

Streetcars of the World Extensive and well-represented coverage of contemporary trams on the planet by Tadashi Yokoo. Especially intriguing for me are the trams of Japan and the former Soviet bloc.
The Association for the Study of Peak Oil The ASPO’s monthly newsletter is a running commentary on oil and gas well depletion.