Besides building roads, Jacob Ambaum joined several realtors and property owners, such as George White and Sam Metzler, in developing the Highland Park / Lake Burien Street Car Line - also known as the Toonerville Trolley or Galloping Goose. Burien-area landowners pooled their money and purchased an electric streetcar from Seattle, in the hopes of opening the South End to potential home buyers. Ambaum was a shareholder in the venture. He owned two shares, each valued at $100. The speculation ultimately paid off: the line was a major factor in the development of the land along its nine-mile-long track.
Many people living along the line worked together to clear the right of way. As pole and tie contractor, Jacob Ambaum provided 600 cross ties at $0.25 apiece, and 600 cedar poles at $1 apiece. Taking in two previous franchises, the new line was incorporated on October 10th, 1911.
The line's tracks were laid haphazardly, without too much groundwork. Heading south from White Center to SW 118th St, the line detoured around Salmon Creek, continuing along Ambaum to 128th SW, where it stopped at the Jacob Ambaum home. It then continued south along Ambaum through a forest of “sylvan solitude.” The line swung westward between 151st and 152nd and continued on to Seahurst, the southern terminus. Stops along the line had names that are still familiar, such as Michigan Siding, Oak Park, Green, Meetum, Carrvilla, Salmon Creek, Hazel Valley, and Summit.
Due to landslides, power failures, erratic service, and other problems, the operation’s finances became so bad that its investors asked Ambaum to take over the line. "As I understand the line only has about $80 to its name, even I don't think that I could run a railroad on $80," he said. The City of Seattle subsequently took over the line after a major slide put it out of operation.
On October 16, 1913 the original builders of the rail system gifted it to Seattle, provided that the City clear the slide that had wiped out a mile of track, and restore service. Other than the two dilapidated Hammond cars leased from the Seattle Electric Company, there was no rolling stock, barns, shops or other structures, aside from a few waiting stations. The cars were returned and the tracks deeded to Seattle.
Continue on to learn about the rebuilding of the rail system