Cowtown Underground (Part 2): The Fate of the M&O Rolling Stock

What became of the M&O subway’s rolling stock after the Leonard’s Department Store subway carried its last passenger in 2002 (see Part 1)?

The streetcars that Leonard’s Department Store had bought from D.C. Transit Co. of Washington in 1962 had the body style called “PCC” (Presidents’ Conference Committee), which dated to the 1930s. This postcard shows two M&O subway cars in their PCC prime.

After Tandy took over the subway Tandy replaced the PCC-style car bodies with a boxier style called “Radio Shack Modern.” The nonprofit organization North Texas Historic Transportation, which is dedicated to preserving historic transportation artifacts, has rescued three of the cars. (NTHT restored interurban car no. 25, on display at the Intermodal Transportation Center downtown.) McKinney Avenue Transit Authority in Dallas also has a Tandy car, which MATA has named “Winnie” because of the body style’s resemblance to a Winnebago motor home.

Each subway car has two “trucks” like this one. Each truck contains not only two pairs of wheels and axles but also an electric motor and a differential and driveshaft to transfer power to each pair of wheels.

The Tandy Center cars are stored at the T transit system headquarters at Lancaster and Pine streets. The former streetcars should feel right at home there: That location once was the site of the car barns and repair shops of the interurban.

Two PCC-style subway cars stayed in the family: They belong to Marty Leonard, daughter of store founder Marvin Leonard. Car no. 1, shown here, escaped boxification. (Photo by Jamie Terrell of NTHT.)

subway panelIn 2014 M&O subway car no. 1 was restored and is on display at One City Place downtown.

All aboard!

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9 Responses to Cowtown Underground (Part 2): The Fate of the M&O Rolling Stock

  1. Jerri says:

    The highlight of my brother’s and my week was going downtown on Friday nights with our parents and riding the subway to the store. We begged our parents to park at the furthest stop so we could ride longer. Then we’d go to the restaurant for dinner where I’d usually get the vegetable soup. We loved going to Leonard’s!

  2. Mellinda Timblin says:

    Fun stuff. I remember stepping inside the store from the platform and there was a bakery shop on the immediate left. They had a cinnamon crisp pastry….

    • hometown says:

      I have heard other people comment on the proximity of the bakery shop and the subway platform. Another savvy business decision.

  3. Dan Lamb says:

    Hometown, has anyone seen fit to erect a Texas Historical Marker for the M & O?

  4. When the Air Force transferred me to my first regular job I got to know Fort Worth quite well. I did not have a car and I took the city bus from Carswell Air Force Base to downtown Fort Worth and I discovered the Leonard’s Subway on my first trip. I thought what a wonderful idea and it provided 5,000 people with free parking all day. I think I rode the subway every time I could and parked my new car in the Leonard’s lot when I went downtown. This was 1972 and the Leonard’s store was still a major department store for Fort Worth. I also remember the downtown Spripling’s store and the downtown Monnig’s store. Stripling’s had a nice old fashioned dining room in the downtown store and it was a stop on a each Saturday trip downtown. It also had it’s own parking lot, but the Leonard’s lot and subway ride was always first choice for me. I remember when all three of the downtown department stores were torn down. Today downtown Fort Worth is more active than ever and its a shame that the subway does not still run out to the huge free parking lot. Thanks for your coverage of a special topic in Fort Worth’s history.

    • hometown says:

      Bruce, like you, I and lots of other folks have fond memories of riding the M&O subway and shopping at Leonard’s. I’m glad subway car no. 1 is being restored for display on the former site of the store.

  5. Pete Kendall says:

    Great stuff, Mike

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