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Friday, March 11, 2016

The "Saving Of Trolley Car No. 236" Story

CTC Trolleys along Queen Street in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
In the background can be seen the tall Greist Building.
It was an ordinary day.  Doing some research on transpor- tation in Lancaster County, Pennsyl- vania.  For most of my childhood, I lived less than a city block away from the Lancaster Train Station.  I made many visits to the station to watch the trains arrive and depart, stand on the platforms and talk to the engineer or conductor as trains would arrive and to slide down the shiny brass bannister from the lobby area to the ground level.  
Penn Square in the center of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
This is the hub for the several routes of the CTC Trolleys.
Still get the urge to do the latter whenever I have the need to visit now.  But, the one thing I never did during my lifetime was ride the rails of the Conestoga Traction Company (CTC) trolleys as they made their rounds of their seven county routes in Lancaster.  
The removal of the trolley tracks took place July 14, 1947.
The removal of the trolley tracks in Lancaster city took place in 1947 when I was only three years old.  I may have rode the trolley with my parents during my early childhood, but I certainly don't remember back that far in history.  It was in 1899 that the CTC opened their seven routes that radiated spoke-like from the center of the city.  
An old photograph of the square shows the trolley on the left.
Routes to cities and towns with names such as Ephrata, Columbia, Marietta, Lititz, Manheim, Strasburg and Quarryville took riders on the electric-traction system on a trolley car much the size of a city bus today.  One of the most popular destination in the summer on the Lancaster City route was the ride to Rocky Springs Park where 20 cars would be assigned to the line at one time to handle the crowds of patrons going to the amusement park to the south of the city.  
One of the last routes to disappear was the
trip to Rocky Springs Amusement Park and
Roller Rink.  Here a motorman poses in front
of No. 236 at the Park in May of 1939.
This destination was the last to disappear when CTC finally stopped their trolley runs on September 21, 1947.  This coming summer will be 69 years since the trolley tracks in Lancaster were removed.  So what ever happened to all the old trolley cars that were in service for many years in Lancaster and surrounding town?  Some were donated to museums while the rest traveled to Rocky Springs where they were, one at a time, turned over on their sides and burned.  What a sight that must have been.  For some it was probably exciting while for others it must have been sad watching history disappear before their eyes.  
Removal of Car No. 236 to Landis Valley Farm Museum.
One of the old trolley cars was donated to Landis Valley Farm Museum and I did get to see it while on a visit to the museum in the late 1950s.  Car No. 236 is a diminutive Birney safety car that was built by J.G. Brill in 1926 at a cost to the city of Lancaster of $7,164.  It was taken to the Farm Museum where it was on display for many years.  
Car No. 236 as it appeared at Landis Valley.
It fell into disrepair because of weather and souvenir hunters and was examined by the Strasburg Railroad as something they might want to use at their Railroad Museum.  In 1985 an inspection was done on the trolley, but never taken to Strasburg for restoration.  
Car No. 236 as it is today in Manheim, Pennsylvania.
On May 7, 1990, Car No. 236 was moved from Landis Valley Farm Museum to the town of Manheim were it was completely resorted in a car barn erected just for the restoration.  Using mostly volunteers, Car No. 236 took over two years to restore.  Old track in front of the old Manheim Depot was torn up and new track was laid and trolley poles and wire erected.  On April 4, 1996, CTC Car No. 236 ran 150 feet from the barn to Charlotte Street in Manheim.  After 49 years, Car No. 236 came to life once again with a bright traction yellow livery which the car sported while running on the CTC line.  The ride is short, but if you care to take a ride on a trolley, head to Manheim, PA on selected dates and hop on Car No. 236.  It is the only operational Birney in the State of Pennsylvania.  The biggest reason for the demise of the trolley system in Lancaster was the automobile.  Need I write more?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

No. 236 as it rolls down College Avenue and James Streets just out of the shop on June 24, 1936.  This was one of the better cars in the CTC fleet and therefore it was worth rebuilding at the time.
This is the Lititz trolley from Lancaster to Lititz, PA.
After CTC decided to stop service, the cars that remained were taken to Rocky Springs, pushed off the track and burned.
One of the cars after being set on fire.  Must have been disheartening to see this sight.
A trolley makes it way east on West King Street.  Notice the wagons along the left of the photograph.
The Conestoga Traction Company map of routes in Lancaster County.
Another scene from center city Lancaster.
This is Car No. 236 traveling across the Conestoga Creek Bridge on its very last run on September 22, 1947.  
This shows the restoration of Car No. 236 after it was taken to Manheim, PA.
Car No. 236 after it stops at Rocky Springs.
This is one of my favorite old photographs I was able to find of trolleys in Lancaster.  It is the Lititz CTC trolley as it crosses the Lititz Pike bridge about two blocks from my childhood home near the Lancaster Railroad Station.  The tracks were no longer on the bridge when I used it to walk to school at Brecht Elementary from 1950 to 1956.  The trolley is passing over the tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad main line from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, PA
This trolley photo show the car traveling near Maple Grove which was a swimming pool and rollerskating rink to the west of Lancaster.
These two open air trolleys were used in the summer months to transport people to Rocky Springs to the amusement park and for swimming.
This very old, undated post card, shows a trolley as it heads around the Penn Square Monument in downtown Lancaster, PA.  It reads: Just had dinner. Had roast chicken and ice cream.  Good Lancaster County meal!
A booklet that was printed giving all the routes and times for arrival and departure of the trolleys.

1 comment:

  1. the first nail in the coffin of the long decline of lancaster city was the day the trolley stopped running