No other streetcar attracted the riding public’s attention quite like the open car. One hundred years ago, summer trolley rides were advertised as the perfect way to cool off, and the companies did a brisk business taking passengers to parks or for a ride in the country. Many trolley companies built those parks that became the destinations – it was simply good business!
As safety became more of an issue, due to autos sharing the streets, open trolleys in most American cities disappeared in the late 1920s. In Rio de Janiero, however, use of the cars continued into the 1960s, when a dozen cars of JG Brill design and Brazilian manufacture were brought to the United States by a group of trolley museums. Car 1758 is one of these cars. It is the same Brill Narragansett design as open cars operated by West Penn Railways in Westmoreland and Fayette Counties, although the West Penn opens were wider and longer.
Car 1758 was originally purchased and restored by the Magee Transportation Museum in Bloomsburg, PA. It was restored and then operated there as Magee Museum #3, until that museum’s untimely closure as a result of extensive damage from Hurricane Agnes in 1972. The car was purchased in 1973 and moved to New Jersey where it was used as a prop inside a hobby shop. The owner of this shop retired to Florida and the car accompanied his move. It was set up inside the Lionel Train and Seashell Museum in Sarasota, Florida, where it was used indoors as a display and as a seating area to watch videos. In 1990, the car was purchased by the City of Orlando, Florida. It was to be used as the first streetcar (and as a device to generate public interest and Federal funding) for a proposed Heritage Streetcar line in Orlando. The car was refurbished, re-numbered 1 and given the nickname of “Oscar” (for Orlando Streetcar). Unfortunately, Orlando never created the proposed Heritage Streetcar line, and 1758 sat unused in indoor storage for many years until being sold at auction in 2006.
|Car Builder||Rio de Janiero Tramways|
|Car Type||DE DT Open City Car|
|Width||9’6″ (running boards down)|
|Motors||General Electric 247D|