I’ve often said as much myself. But what is often forgotten is that it wasn’t a municipal system. It was a commercial system or, more properly, several commercial systems. The Interurban went away because it began to cost more to run than the revenue it brought in.
Also lost in the nostalgic dreams of cheap transportation for Sunday picnics and commuting workers is the fact that the Interurban was far from perfect. If you search through newspapers of the early teens and twenties, you’ll find dozens of references to fatal “electric car” crashes all over the country on interurban lines.
The Boise & Interurban had at least one fatal collision.
On the evening of July 20, 1910, two Boise & Interurban cars collided on Hill’s curve, a half mile west of Star. The motorman on the westbound car, William Earwood of Boise, was killed in the collision, while 16 passengers were injured, none seriously. A photo of one of the cars, below, is courtesy of the Idaho State Historical Society digital collection.
The two cars were each going about 20 miles per hour at the time of the collision, which resulted when one or both conductors failed to contact dispatch for a check on traffic before entering the curve.
It is worth noting W.E. Pierce, the owner of the company, held that the Boise & Interurban was under no obligation to pay for Earwood’s death, since it was determined that he was at fault. Nevertheless, they did pay his widow $4,000.