Story: Keep the Wheel - road service in 1891
All who are familiar with the methods of the street railroads in Chicago, know that they have "patrol" wagons in which they carry wagon wheels and other necessary things, by which they remove a wagon that has broken down upon the track.
A coal wagon with one wheel broken, if on the tracks, brings traffic on the road to a stand-still. If the stranger should witness the accident, he would likely feel considerable sympathy for the driver of the broken wagon. He has experienced a wreck; his wagon is disabled, and the observer who was unacquainted with such occurrences would wonder what he would do.
Directly, however, the clang of a bell is heard, and a rapidly driven wagon with two or three men in it, and with all that is necessary to repair the damaged coal wagon, appears in sight and halts beside the wreck.
In less time than it takes to tell it, [a temporary] wheel is placed on the wagon, and the team draws it to one side. The stranger might think that a kindness had been done; but no kindness was intended to the hapless driver. As soon as his wagon is out of the way of the company's [traction] cars, the men take off the wheel, load it onto their own wagon, and leave the poor driver in the midst of his dilemma; and how like the world that is.
From the Alpena Argus, February 11, 1891