The 1960’s

Three more Pittsburgh streetcars arrived on the property in the early 1960s, starting with 3487 and 4398, which had been stored in Pittsburgh. In 1961, the museum received its first Presidents Conference Committee (PCC) car: Pittsburgh Railways 1138.

The car was loaded at Ingram Car House and transported April 5, 1961. It was the last car unloaded via the museum “driveway” built on the former Arden Mines railroad grade.

Following completion of the Car House, overhead lines were reconstructed and a trolley electrical substation was built. The 600-volt direct current power needed to run the cars was originally obtained from a diesel generator. In December 1962, the first car since the museum’s establishment in Washington County in 1954 triumphantly ran on its own power. Nine years later, at a ceremony on June 23, 1963, the Washington County commissioners officially dedicated the Arden Trolley Museum to its historic mission. The Museum was now a living history museum and tourist attraction. Rides were offered on a regular basis to visitors, a feature which makes the “trolley museum” unique in the museum industry.

In 1965, our museum pioneered the use of a modern solid state rectifier substation with the installation of a unit built by Westinghouse for use in transit car testing. This substation connected directly to power company lines, greatly simplifying operating procedures for volunteers. While pioneering solid-state technology, this unit suffered from technical difficulties of its early design and lack of sufficient capacity. These considerations prompted the purchase and installation of a larger, more advanced unit in 1969. Its 450-kilowatt capacity allowed the operation of several cars at one time.

In 1964, the Museum became home to The “Streetcar Named Desire” with the arrival of car 832 from New Orleans. 40 cars were retired from service that year with the closure of the Canal Street line. The cars were offered for $1 to museums nationwide and about a dozen of them traveled to places as distant as Connecticut and California. Because these conventional streetcars fit the museum’s Pittsburgh track, the group had asked for one in the 1950s. As the first to ask, we were given choice of cars. Car 832 was selected because it was featured in Life Magazine in 1947 when the eponymous play opened on Broadway.

Railroad equipment came to the museum in the mid-60s when a steam locomotive was acquired from Duquesne Slag Company and a retired railroad coach was donated by the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad, with the hope of providing rides on a short piece of track. That plan changed as the Bessemer car allowed the Museum to establish a gift shop and museum display area for its visitors. A hand-painted billboard was erected by museum volunteers on nearby Route 19.

By the late 1960s, the museum’s streetcar collection had outgrown the original car house and the trolley line had been extended to the limits of available right-of-way. Pittsburgh snow sweeper M37 tipped the scale when it arrived in 1967, followed with the acquisition of Pittsburgh PCC 1467 in 1968.

For a short period beginning in 1966, several proposals were made by local planners to move the Museum to other sites in Washington County. The location had lost its rural character as the area was developed into an industrial park. By 1968, no practical alternate site was found and plans to move lost steam as efforts to make the steam locomotive operate came to fruition, along with the arrival of a Monongahela West Penn steeplecab electric locomotive 3000 and the long-awaited completion of restrooms.