legacy page
New responsive screen layout coming soon!

hawkinsrails.net / streetcars / penn

Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

In 1953, the Pittsburgh Electric Railway Club, formally organized as a nonprofit corporation. They purchased a 2,000-foot section of railway line of the Pittsburgh Railways Company's recently abandoned Washington interurban trolley line near the Washington County Home in Chartiers Township. On February 7, 1954, the museum's first three cars were run to the site on their own power, just before the Washington line was dismantled. During the next nine years museum volunteers constructed storage tracks and a car house to protect the trolley cars, rebuilt nearly a half mile of track, and set up a diesel generator to provide the power necessary to operate the cars. The Arden Trolley Museum opened to the public in June 1963, providing visitors with short demonstration trolley rides and an informal tour of the car house.

Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

Located south of Pittsburgh in the suburb of Washington, the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum features an impressive collection of streetcar, interurban, and industrial electric traction equipment representing operations from across the Commonwealth. Originally developed as a the Pittsburgh Electric Railway Club, the early collection became in 1963 the Arden Trolley Museum. An expanding collection and property prompted a final renaming in the early 1990s, and today the museum -- adjacent to the Pittsburgh & Ohio Central mainline -- boasts a continuous running track with turnaround loops at each end. Additionally, the museum owns a New Orleans streetcar, Pearly Thomas #832, formerly used on various lines in New Orleans including the Desire line, mentioned in the film A Streetcar Named Desire based on the play by Tennessee Williams.

museum site map

A man with a hobby is never too old to have a boy's dream come true.

Always the conversationalist, my father soon struck up a warm back-and-forth with the volunteer motorman working the running car during our 2003 visit to the museum. It soon came out that dad grew up in New Orleans, and his love for NOLA cars was apparent to our new friend. There was hardly a soul on the grounds that morning, so in addition to some extra trips out and back in #832, the motorman pulled to a sudden stop out on the far end of the line and asked dad if he would like to operate her on the way back in. "Is the Pope a Catholic?" dad would later chuckle. A quick overview of the left-hand controller, direction switch, and straight air valve ... and we were off. As we rocked and rolled down the museum right-of-way, dad's hand fixed on the controller, I thought to myself: "A man with a hobby is never too far along to have a boy's dream come true. How many Pearly-Thomas cars did the old man watch rolling down Carrollton Avenue near his boyhood home on Cohn Street? How many wooden-slat seats did he occupy growing up riding these arch-roof cars throughout the Crescent City? And now, here we are, humming down the line, dad at the controls. Great!" Later on, he would say with a big laugh: "I grew up riding these fine old cars all over the City, and I had to come all the way to Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania just to be able to run one!" A dream come true.

Links / Sources