Pittsburgh Railways Co. 1713

Steelers Trolley Left Side View from the 1980s
Steelers TrolleyDoor Side View
1713, Rt. 47S. Wood St Subway. 5-22-87 (P. Erhlich)
Large roll-back truck with a trolley on the back with several people around helping to unload it.
2023-06-14 Terrible Trolley Evaluation KF
1713 With Floor Removed 7-13-23. Scott Becker Photo

In the busy years following WWII Pittsburgh Railways Company (PRCo) was still operating many trolleys built before 1930, and as far back as 1914. While they were by then operating 566 PCC cars, still more were needed to further reduce the fleet of old-timers. This was particularly true of PRCo’s two interurban routes to Washington and Charleroi. Early success with a few modified PCCs in these services during 1946-47 resulted in an additional order for 100 PCCs in 1947. Of the 100, the first 25 were specially equipped for the interurban lines. These cars, numbered 1700 to 1724, had a number of features for the interurban lines, the most important of which was a different type of trucks to provide better riding on the open track of the interurbans.

Car 1713 was rolled off a railroad flatcar at PRCo’s Millvale Car House on February 22, 1949 and entered service at Tunnel Car House on February 24. When those special 25 cars were split up between three car houses serving the interurban lines, Tunnel got cars 1709-1715. After the last cars ran from Washington and Charleroi in the summer of 1953, car 1713 continued to serve on the shortened versions of the two lines for PRCo and successor Port Authority Transit (PAT).

In the early 1980s this car was one of many that carried special paint schemes. A young girl named Kim Sever thought that Pittsburgh should have a “terrible” trolley painted in Steelers colors, along the lines of the Terrible Towel. Her grandmother suggested that she write a letter with the recommendation. Nine-year-old Kim sat down and wrote to Mayor Richard Caliguiri who wrote back explaining that he wasn’t in charge of the public transit system but that he would pass along her suggestions.

Mayor Caliguiri’s response and memo to the Port Authority of Allegheny County (now Pittsburgh Regional Transit or PRT) was dated January 3, 1980. On Port Authority’s internal memo about the letter, they indicate that they took action to move forward with the project by January 10, 1980. In just one week, they were working to paint a car in the suggested theme. Lastly, we have a handwritten note saying the car had been painted and was awaiting decals, while that note is not dated, we do know that the Terrible Trolley began running the streets within just a few weeks of the mayor’s letter.

PAT riders and trolley fans alike considered 1713’s new image as one of the best since it carried the colors and images of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team. This car in that image was revered by the operators as well for its reliability. This image lasted well into the 1980s. As PAT began to acquire a fleet of LRV cars for the upgraded lines to the South Hills, 1713, no long the Steelers car, was among a number of cars retired in late July 1988.

Car 1713 then received the first of three respites when it was chosen with three others for upgrades including train control equipment compatible with the LRV trackage and its new safety systems. Thus repaired, 1713 re-entered service July 27, 1989. As more of the PAT system was upgraded to LRV standards in the 1990s, the need for PCC cars diminished to just a few 4000 series cars for the Drake Line. Early in 1998 a large scale PCC scrapping program began at PAT’s South Hills Village Shop. Initially 1713 was included in the scrap line. Then came respite number two.

This time it was trolley enthusiasts and preservers who saved 1713. On March 26, 1998 1713 was sold to Penn Ohio Electric Railway Assn. of Columbus, OH. This group had previously acquired two other PRCo PCCs at their storage facility near Ashley, OH. A semi-truck loaded 1713 at SHV on May 4, 1998 and took it to Ohio to join the two cars already there. As often is the case with such small-scale preservations, progress was slow and while safely indoors, the cars faced an uncertain future by 2023. This situation was viewed with interest by PTM and set the stage for respite number three.

This time the driver was the universal love for the Steelers in our region and beyond. When word of 1713’s plight reached PTM in March 2023 there arose a groundswell of enthusiasm to save the car from the torch and, if possible, restore it to the 1980s Steelers image. By that time the ownership of 1713 rested with PTM member Edward Miller of Columbus, OH. Ed had been trying for years to find a new home for 1713 and was more than happy to sell the car to PTM. Brownlee Trucking, Inc. agreed to help transport the car from Ohio to the Museum. In addition, the Museum was able to secure an NFL license agreement through the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Eamon Foundation, the charity designated by Myron Cope’s estate as the owner and beneficiary of “The Terrible Towel” trademark.

Car 1713 arrived at PTM on May 31 and was immediately set upon by a group of PTM’s younger members. Even before the arrival the gears had been turning on securing all the permissions and donations of services needed to restore 1713 to that special Steelers image. Like our experience with sister car 1711, a lot of work was needed underneath. As in the case with 1711 when restored at Elmira, NY, the entire floor was removed from 1713 so that welding and cutting could be safely done in the PTM shop. Debut of the restored car in that famous image is anticipated within the next year. Stay tuned!

Car Number


Year Built








Year Acquired


Car Builder

St. Louis Car Company










Under Restoration

A Collection of Nearly 50 Cars and Counting

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