St. Louis Car Company

The St. Louis Car Company was a major United States manufacturer of railroad passenger cars, streetcars, interurbans, trolleybuses and locomotives that existed from 1887 to 1974, based in St. Louis, Missouri.

St. Louis Car Company
FoundedApril 1887; 135 years ago (1887-04)
FounderWilliam Lefmann, Peter Kling, Julius Lefmann, Henry Schroeder, Daniel McAllister, Henry Maune, Charles Ernst
FateCeased operations
Area served
United States; Canada
Key people
George J. Kobusch, Peter Kling, John H. Kobusch, Henry F. Vogel, John I. Beggs, Robert McCulloch, Richard McCulloch, Robert P. McCulloch, Edwin B. Meissner
ProductsRailroad passenger cars, locomotives, streetcars, and trolleybuses; automobiles
ParentGeneral Steel Industries (1960–)
SubsidiariesSt. Louis Aircraft Corporation

Coordinates: 38°42′38″N 90°13′32″W / 38.710668°N 90.225509°W / 38.710668; -90.225509


The St. Louis Car Company was formed in April 1887 to manufacture and sell streetcars and other kinds of rolling stock of street and steam railways supporting the traction industry. In succeeding years the company built automobiles, including the American Mors, the Skelton, and the Standard Six. The St. Louis Aircraft Corporation division of the company partnered with the Huttig Sash and Door company in 1917 to produce aircraft. During the two world wars, the company manufactured gliders, trainers, alligators, flying boats, and dirigible gondolas. Among their most successful products were the Birney Safety Car and the PCC streetcar, a design that was very popular at the time.[1]

The firm went on to build some of the vehicles used in the transit systems of New York City and Chicago, as well as the FM OP800 railcars manufactured exclusively for the Southern Railway in 1939.

The St. Louis Car Company was headed by the late Edwin B. Meissner Sr., who died at age 71 on Sept. 12, 1956. Meissner was president of the company, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of railroad and light rail cars, and the St. Louis Aircraft Corporation. He was active for many years on the Jewish Federation Board of Directors, and served for over 20 years as President of Congregation Shaare Emeth.

“ST. LOUIS CAR CO. ST. LOUIS MO.” “Builders of Electric Cars of every kind” in Electric Railway Review, 1908

The St. Louis Car Co., later known as General Steel Industries, manufactured not only St. Louis streetcars and trolleys but cars for such far-flung transit systems as the Metro in Paris, France. Meissner’s son, Edwin B. Meissner Jr., succeeded his father as head of the company, and continues to be an active member of Congregation Shaare Emeth.[2]

Streetcars held sway in St. Louis and its suburbs from the 1880s until the mid- and late 1940s. Andrew Young records that new state-of-the-art buses began to encroach on the streetcars domain. New streamlined streetcars were brought into service in 1946 to replace older cars, some dating back to 1903.

In 1960, St. Louis Car Company was acquired by General Steel Industries.[3] In 1964, St. Louis Car completed an order of 430 World's Fair picture-window cars (R36 WF) for the New York City Subway and was building 162 PA-1s (110 single units, 52 trailers)[4] for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for their use on the Port Authority Trans-Hudson line to New Jersey.[5] Also in the mid-1960s, the company completed building the passenger capsules, designed by Planet Corporation, to ferry visitors to the top of the Gateway Arch at the Gateway Arch National Park (then known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) in St. Louis, Missouri.[6]

St. Louis Car continued business until 1968 and finally ceased operations by 1974.[7] The final St. Louis Car products were R44 subway cars for the New York City Subway and Staten Island Rapid Transit, and the USDOT State of the Art Car rapid transit demonstrator set whose design was based on the R44.

The St. Louis Car assembly plant and general office at 8000 Hall Street, St. Louis is now the St. Louis Business Center, a mixed use industrial and commercial complex redeveloped starting in 2005.[8]

Selected ProductsEdit

A St. Louis Car-built trolley bus in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1967
One of the few surviving Lisbon’s São Luís type cars (series 400-474): of the original batch of 75 units, imported in 1901 and retired up to 1973, most were scrapped, three remain operational in Lisbon (a museum car restored to original condition and two modified for tourist duty since 1965, fitted with luxury upholstering — №2, former №435, on the photo), and five saw heritage use in Detroit in 1978-2003.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Andrew D. Young and Eugene Provenzo, The History of the St. Louis Car Company (Howell North Books 1978)
  2. ^ Emeritus, Robert A. Cohn, Editor-in-Chief. "Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley!". St. Louis Jewish Light. Retrieved 2019-02-05. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  3. ^ Flagg, James S.; Madison County Sesquicentennial Committee (1962). Our 150 Years, 1812–1962: In Commemoration of the Madison County Sesquicentennial. Edwardsville, Illinois: East 10 Publishing Company, Inc. p. 53.
  4. ^ "An Ode to PATH's PA-1s", Philip G. Craig, ERA Bulletin, December 2011, page 16
  5. ^ "Transportation: Back on the Rails". Time Magazine. August 28, 1964. Archived from the original on December 14, 2011.
  6. ^ Moore, Bob (1994). Urban Innovation and Practical Partnerships: An Administrative History of Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, 1980-1991. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service. Archived from the original on August 7, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  7. ^ Young and Provenzo, 267.
  8. ^ "St. Louis Business Center" Green Street: Portfolio
  • Middleton, William, Jr. The Interurban Era. Kalmbach Publishing, Milwaukee, WI.

External linksEdit