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For power, most interurbans used overhead catenary (energized electric lines attached to line-side poles), usually rated at around 600 volts.
However, in some cases third-rail was utilized and the electricity greater.
However, instead of serving a single municipality this new operation would link two or more.
In an era before automobiles, when steel rails handled nearly all interstate and intercity travel, the interurban concept seemed viable, in theory.
Visually, the interurban was classic Americana as a car sped along a grass-covered right-of-way with its trolley pole extended high.
While postdating the industry, one the great depictions of interurban right-of-way is illustrated in Trains Magazine's October, 1993 issue under a segment entitled, "" (Page 57).
Much of the trackage was situated east of the Mississippi River as the interurban offered flexibility and affordability for the everyday commuter.In 1889 there were just 7 miles of interurbans in service, a number which jumped to 3,122 by 1901, and finally peaked at 15,580 in 1916.These numbers slowly receded into the 1920's as abandonment hastened through the 1930's.Depending upon cost an interurban's route either followed its own dedicated right-of-way or, with permission from the state/county, could be laid right next to a rural road.The latter alternative was cheaper but the resulting grades and curves were less than ideal, a problem only compounded when freight movements were involved.