The Day the Streetcars Stopped

May 1, 2018

It seems like almost yesterday that streetcars in Cape Girardeau stopped rolling through the city. On August 10, 1934, the last car was driven into the north Main Street barns at 9:30 p.m., signaling the end of a community service that had been available for 29 years.

The era of the streetcar began on December 27, 1905, when the service began on a line that ran from Good Hope Street on the south side of town to the shoe factory on the north and the college on the west. Occasionally, workers at the international shoe factory would entertain themselves by jumping on the rear of the cars and bouncing them up and down as the moved along the track.

The track eventually expanded into a four-mile route commonly called "the loop" or "the big square."

The rails began at the barns on Main Street, traveled north to the shoe factory, south to Broadway, west to Henderson, north to Normal, west to the fairgrounds (now Capaha Park), south to Independence and east back to Main.

On occasion the route would be reversed to meet public interest. Although the cars ran for 29 years, they never made a profit in a single year of operation, and by 1934 the automobile was making street railway systems in small communities, obsolete. The system ended by an order of the Missouri Public Service Commission following a request by the city, supported by a petition of 1,500 signatures.

Raymond F. "Peg" Meyer once stated that the day in the 20th century that was most memorable to him was August 10, 1934 -- the day the streetcars stopped, as he had to walk to work every day thereafter.  It seems like Almost Yesterday.