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June 24th, 2007


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01:54 pm - no transfers from metro center
Here's a little-known tidbit for those who may not have known: There is a very short-line electric subway underneath the US Capitol. Nifty, huh? Both the House and Senate have underground tunnels leading from the Capitol Building to additional legislative office buildings (the Senate buildings to the north, and the House buildings to the south.) These tunnels were originally constructed in 1909, but only the Senate had vehicles to ride: two electric Studebaker cars nicknamed Peg and Tommy. House members had to walk.

In 1912, the electric cars were replaced by a unique monorail system with an overhead rail and catenary. The cars had wicker seats for the best in Edwardian comfort but again, just for the Senate. Apparently these cars were used until 1960. The system underwent renovations then, and I believe it was at that time that, hurray! The House got trolleys, too!

Both sides of Congress now have their own subway lines. Operator-driven trains run back and forth all day. The Senate has another computer-automated line just like your favorite airport shuttle. At least one car in every train is reserved for elected officials only. Civilians can ride the subway as part of an escorted tour group, except during voting sessions.

So. How many of you rail nuts have actually taken a trip on the Congressional Subway? Sure, it doesn't look all that impressive, but hey. A subway for Congress. Just think 'bout that. Pretty awesome.

(11 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:kpht
Date:June 24th, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
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cool! i actually just found out that existed because it's mentioned in Barack Obama's new book.
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From:eeka13
Date:June 24th, 2007 06:47 pm (UTC)
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I haven't, but it's on my list. SO COOL.
(Deleted comment)
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From:derspatchel
Date:June 24th, 2007 07:14 pm (UTC)

Re: However, we did not get the bean soup

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Wasn't part of a tour group, though.

POST 9/11 WORLD


I wish they'd serve the bean soup on the subway. Now that'd rule.
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From:lillibet
Date:June 24th, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC)
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I rode in one of them when I did the Congressional Leadership Scholars program, back in the 80's.
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From:tikva
Date:June 24th, 2007 08:41 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, and I think we passed Ted Kennedy going the other way. This was before I'd moved to Massachusetts.
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From:ron_newman
Date:June 25th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
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I've done it, but I don't remember having to be part of a tour group. I think any random tourist was allowed to ride once the people with priority had taken their seats.
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From:mmcirvin
Date:June 25th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC)
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I haven't, but I think I have been in a non-rail-enabled portion of the sub-Capitol tunnel system, if I recall correctly.
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From:malconstant
Date:June 25th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC)
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I need to run for Congress. I wonder if my 'wants to ride the little secret subway' platform will speak to the voters.
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From:coffeebeanben
Date:June 25th, 2007 12:43 am (UTC)
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Monorail. Monorail. Monorail.
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From:flkittkatz
Date:June 25th, 2007 04:14 am (UTC)
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I did in 1973. I was in DC for a high-school political science seminar (Close-Up) and the gave us passes to go anywhere we wanted on Capitol Hill. We could ride the subway and talk to anyone who would talk to us. That would never happen today. I am scheduled to take my little girl on a capitol tour in about a week and a half scheduled by one of the senators in my state. For her, I hope it includes the subway.
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From:muffyjo
Date:June 25th, 2007 02:22 pm (UTC)
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Did you know that when Studebaker went out of business that many of their top shops re-tooled for this new foreign business to try their hand at sales in the US. It's called "Mercedez Benz".

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