Trolleyology

Join PTM staff, volunteers, and members for our Zoom series, Trolleyology! These programs feature Pennsylvania transit history topics and tales of our collection that you can experience from home. Registration is required but free of charge. Donations are welcome and encouraged.

Trolleyology-Zoom-Series

Schedule

Trolleyology presentations will continue on a regular or semi-regular basis. Interested in presenting? Email assistant@patrolley.org! We’re specifically looking for programs related to the Trolley Era in general, Pennsylvania transit history, or stories about our collection. Please join our e-mail list to stay up-to-date with program announcements and other PTM news!

*For the best experience, we recommend downloading Zoom in advance.

Upcoming Programs

 

Philadelphia Subway-Surface Trolley Lines

12/14/22 - Presented by Matt Nawn and Harry Donahue

Previous Programs

 

These programs may be available for outreach presentations. If your club, organization, or group is interested in a digital program, please email assistant@patrolley.org.

Some previous presenters have given permission for the Museum to share their programs on PTM’s YouTube Account. Click here for the Trolleyology playlist!

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Ohio Electric Railway

11/9/2022 - Presented by Bill Van Doren

This 617 mile Ohio Electric Railway system broke up in 1921 but only lasted in its entirety from 1906 until 1917.  Despite its complex structure of leases and stock control, the rumor that Ohio Electric owned nothing but the paint on its cars was not totally true—they did own the Lima Toledo outright, and upon dissolution OE was renamed L-T.  They provided city service in seven cities, Columbus having been sold off early.  The complex corporate structure included Ohio Electric, the Millcreek Valley out of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Traction Co, the Cincinnati Zoo, and the Cincinnati Car Co. The original Toledo entrance was to have been along the Maumee River and over city streets but instead saw the construction of the quarter mile long Tontogany Viaduct -- it still barely stands and is for sale by the State of Ohio for $100 to anyone who will restore it. The company was in trouble from the beginning and never recovered from the 1913 Midwest flood. This program touches on all the OE lines.

To cover such a large enterprise in one session obviously means that only the highlights can be covered. Still, Ohio Electric looms large in traction history and should be of interest.

*Recording Coming Soon

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Heading Home on the Main Line: A Century of Pennsylvania Railroad Commuter Rail Operations in Philadelphia

10/25/2022 - Presented by Al Churella

Take a ride along the Main Line. During the late 1800s, the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks that stretched west of Philadelphia played a pioneering role in the emergence of commuting by rail, as well as the development of what we now call suburbia. By the time of World War I, those commuter lines featured the initial phases of what became the nation’s most important system of electrified tracks. After World War II, PRR and Reading commuter services were a money-losing proposition and played a key role in the development of governmental subsidies for public transportation. While Philadelphia never rivaled the vast array of commuter services that characterized Greater New York, the City of Brotherly Love represented in microcosm the evolution of commuter rail in the United States.

*Recording Coming Soon

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Trolley Trails through the North Hills: The Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler and New Castle Railway

10/11/2022 - Presented by Bill Fronczek and Scott Becker

Bill Fronczek and Scott Becker from the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum will share photos and history from this interurban streetcar line north of Pittsburgh along with information about the preservation, relocation, and restoration of Wexford station.

*Recording Coming Soon

The Colorful Streetcars of Pittsburgh

7/19/2022 - Presented by George Gula

Pittsburgh’s streetcars have featured some colorful paint schemes through the years. Advertisements and calls to action also resulted in many memorable appearances. George Gula will present these eye-catching designs from a historical perspective!

Dayton’s Interurban History

6/28/2022 - Presented by Tom Morrow

Dayton, Ohio was a key interurban connection between the great Ohio and Indiana systems, with nine separate lines radiating from Third and Main, starting in 1895 with the last vestige removed in 1941. Tom Morrow will walk us through the interurbans which were found in the Gem City.

Pittsburgh: Streetcar City

5/31/2022 - Presented by Chris Walker, George Zrust, Dennis Cramer, Bruce Wells, and Ed Lybarger

This program will highlight the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum’s newest publication featuring high-quality photos and lively discussion from the team who put the book together!

Port Authority’s Electric Bus Initiative

5/24/2022 - Presented by David Wohlwill

Port Authority has eight forty-foot battery electric buses in its fleet which operate in the eastern sector of Port Authority’s service area. This presentation will discuss the choice of electric propulsion for transit buses, the challenges of implementing electric bus technology, state and federal funding for the program, Duquesne Light Company’s partnership, and the experience to date with their operation. The presentation will also cover future plans to expand the electric bus fleet, including their proposed use in the Downtown – Oakland bus rapid transit corridor.

The Short-Lived History of the PCC Car in Cleveland

5/9/2022 - Presented by Richard A. Krisak (+The Last CTS PCC Fan Trip, 3/8/1953)

Cleveland was the fifth largest city in the U.S. following WWII with an increasing population and a growing economy. It operated one of the larger intact street railway networks in the nation with substantial and growing post war ridership. Although Cleveland was an early member of the ERPCC it was a late adopter of the PCC. This presentation will focus on the short seven-year life span of the PCC car on Cleveland streets. The initial 1938 demonstration by Cleveland Ry., and the subsequent 1946 purchase and operation by the Cleveland Transit System (CTS) will be covered. How events during the CTS post war modernization plans influenced the decision to purchase the initial fleet will be examined. The subsequent decisions that led to their sale to TTC and the demise of the entire streetcar system will also be discussed. Featured in detail will be the last PCC fan trip that traversed five car lines and five operating stations, some that never saw a PCC in revenue service.

Philadelphia Commuter Rails, a 40-Year Retrospective

4/20/2022 - Presented by Steve Barry

The title says it all! Join Steve Barry for a program of PCCs and Kawasakis, Brill and St. Louis cars along with Kawasaki cars on the Red Arrow, Bullets and Strafford cars (and modern N-5s) on the Norristown line, the Market-Frankford El, and the Broad Street Subway.

Car C-145: The Story of a Wandering Snow Sweeper

4/11/2022 - Presented by Matt Nawn and Harry Donahue with Matthew Nawn and Andrew Nawn

Philadelphia Rapid Transit C-145 has quite a unique history having been preserved by three different museum organizations in three states and is the only electric trolley car ever to operate in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Recently, the sweeper has been the focus of several youth-led projects. Join Matt Nawn, Harry Donahue, and Matt’s sons Matthew and Andrew as they discuss this car’s story and recent restoration to its 1926-1940 appearance.

A Ride to Washington, PA

3/15/2022 - Presented by George Gula

It’s the program we’ve all been waiting for! The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum lies along the route of the former Pittsburgh to Washington interurban – follow along on a virtual photo ride with George Gula as we meander our way from the city through the South Hills and Canonsburg to Washington, PA. The local lines in Washington will also be covered.

Shaker Heights Rapid Transit: The PCC Era

2/16/2022 - Presented by Bram Bailey with Rich Krisak

The program will briefly introduce the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit and PCC cars.  Bram Bailey will discuss the classes of PCC car that ran on the SHRT as well as those that were acquired second hand. Learn a bit about the technical differences and spotting features of each class!  The final phase of the program co-presented with Rich Krisak will take a visual tour of the line starting at Cleveland Union Terminal all the way to Green Road. Return to Shaker Square, we’ll venture out on the Van Aken Line to Warrensville Yard and return westbound to the CUT.  The program will include a variety of photos taken in areas not open to the public, an overall map of the system, and track plans for each major terminal as well as Kingsbury Shops.  This program is focused on the prototype, but will also be useful for anyone interested in modeling SHRT.

*Proceeds from this Trolleyology registration received by February 28 were designated for the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum’s Shaker Heights #94 fund.

PCC Car 2168 – A Streetcar Survival Story

2/9/2022 - Presented by Matt Nawn and Harry Donahue

Car #2168 is one of the most popular preserved transit vehicles from Philadelphia, but many people may not know its history, why this car was saved from scrap, how its preservation made an impact, and what’s involved with ensuring a “restored” trolley car stays safe, reliable, and sustainable for current and future generations.  Matt Nawn and Harry Donahue covered the detailed restoration of this car in previous programs but haven’t delved into the why behind this car and what its future holds.

The Isle of Man Transport System, British Isles

1/11/2022 - Presented by Ian Longworth, Director of Transportation, Isle of Man

The Isle of Man still enjoys an integrated transport system with a single management team overseeing the operation.  A Division of the Department of Infrastructure, Isle of Man Government, which provides key services to the whole country which is only 100 miles round the coast.  Whilst an overview of the network will be given the main focus will be on the light rail side where much renewal has taken place in more recent times as the importance of the heritage rail operations has been appreciated.

*All the railways and tramways use the original rolling stock and are operating railways not preserved as they have never closed!

Schuylkill Railways: Trolleys Through the Anthracite Coal Fields

12/8/2021 - Presented by Mike Szilagyi and Andrew W. Maginnis

1892 marked the year that trolleys began serving the thriving boroughs, anthracite mines, and patch villages of northern Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  Schuylkill Railway’s finest hour came in 1916 when a long-awaited trolley line across Broad Mountain was completed.  As late as the 1920s batches of new steel Brills replaced old trolleys.  When an all-bus system took over, Schuylkill Railway’s fleet of solid Brill cars went west, where they served reliably into the 1950s. Noted transit historian Andrew W. Maginnis and author Mike Szilagyi join forces to present this illustrated history.

The Laurel Line: Scranton to Wilkes-Barre

11/23/2021 - Presented by George Gula

At the turn of the 20th Century, the densely populated Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys were major producers of anthracite coal. Developers decided to build a successful electric railway to connect the towns from Carbondale south to Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, but quickly changed their plans to build a railroad capable of handling heavy coal trains as well as an intense passenger service. Construction of the line, powered by a third rail, saddled it with an enormous debt it was never able to get out from under. This show, the second of two parts, is a color photo tour of the line from Scranton to Wilkes-Barre, as it existed in the early 1950’s. The majority of the marvelous photos were taken by the premier photographer Edward S. Miller. So come trackside to relive the final years of the line, but don’t step on the third rail!

The P&AV: Two Places This Line Never Reached

11/9/2021 - Presented by Dennis Cramer

The Pittsburgh & Allegheny Valley Railways Company was one of two trolley lines in Armstrong County. Both began as independent entities and were eventually purchased and operated by West Penn Railways. The P&AV ran between Apollo & Leechburg along the Kiskiminetas River in the valley that has hosted river, canal, railroad, highway and trolley transportation over the years. The P&AV, like many small town trolley companies, had high expectations, but was never able to achieve those destinations included in its name. This program will feature now and then images, maps and personal reflections of a small part of rural Pennsylvania.

Trolleys in Chocolate Town: Hershey Transit

10/26/2021 - Presented by George Gula

Hershey trolleys began operation in 1904. Forty-two years later, the final cars ran in 1946. The intervening years saw the company running west to Hummelstown, east to Palmyra and Lebanon and south to Elizabethtown. At its height, Hershey Transit operated a booming freight business as well as passenger service through Chocolate Town. Connections were made with Harrisburg Railways, Reading Transit & Light, the Ephrata & Lebanon system and Conestoga Traction. This show from George Gula will present a history and a view of this fascinating Central Pennsylvania system.

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Pittsburgh Railways Interurbans: 1960 to the present

11/21/2021 - Presented by Richard Aaron

Rail service in Pittsburgh’s Saw Mill Run valley goes back as far as the early 1800s with the Pittsburgh Railways Company interurban service opening a century later. This presentation will review the history of this rail service and examine the last sixty years of light rail operations in the valley. We will see photographs at most of the stops on the Library and Drake routes in a “then and now” format. This will show the metamorphosis of the railway into a contemporary light rail line. There also will be coverage of some special movements and events.

*Recording unavailable at presenter’s request.

Car Line Adventures – Trolley Tales from the Sublime to the Ridiculous (but mostly ridiculous…)

8/10/2021 - Presented by Jack Demnyan

Horsing Around: The Horsecar and the Origins of Urban Mass Transportation

7/7/2021 - Presented by Sarah Wells

Explore the time before electricity moved us! Sarah Wells will discuss the innovations that allowed rails to be added to streets and why it was so important to find a new, cleaner, motive power. Learn more about horsecars, including the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum’s horsecar and its preservation story.

Shoes, Snack Foods, and Streetcars – The Electric Railways of Hanover, PA

6/1/2021 - Presented by Matthew Nawn and Andrew Nawn

Hanover, Pennsylvania has been known in the past for shoes, and in recent decades is known for snack food production.  However, much less is known about the local street railway system that served the greater Hanover area until 1932 and the interurban railway that connected Hanover with York until 1939.  The father and son team of Matt and Andrew Nawn, both Hanover residents, will tell the story of the interesting electric railways that once served this industrial and agricultural center of south-central Pennsylvania.

Women in Transit

5/19/2021 - Presented by George Gula

Stories are often told of women serving as motorettes during WWII, but did you know that women entered the transit industry much earlier? Tune into this program from George Gula to hear about some of the earliest accounts of women working on streetcars and learn how the role of women in the industry has evolved over time.

Lessons Learned from PCC Car Restorations

5/4/2021 - Presented by Matthew Nawn and Harry Donahue

Matt Nawn and Harry Donahue will share their experiences managing and participating in PCC car restoration projects at several museums, with a focus on lessons learned that can be helpful to any restoration project. This presentation will cover many features of the restoration of a PCC car, including the carbody, interior, trucks, control system, and finishing details. Matt and Harry will also discuss tips for upkeep and maintenance of these cars once restoration is completed. This presentation should be a good follow-on to the January Trolleyology presentation on the history of PCC cars.

Cincinnati and Its Inclined Plane Railways (Plus: A Look at the 2200 Series Cars of the Cincinnati Street Railway)

4/20/2021 - Presented by Phil Lind

The program from Phil Lind will feature photos and history of the 5 incline planes that were operated in Cincinnati, Ohio between 1872 and 1948. We will examine each one and cover its operations from beginning to end. After the incline program, Phil will show images of Cincinnati Street Railway 2200 class cars, of which PTM has #2227. Lastly, Phil will share images of 2227 from the 1950s.

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Pittsburgh to McKeesport by Trolley + Turnpikes and Trolleys: The Line to West Chester

4/8/2021 - Presented by Russ Jackson

Member Russ Jackson will show a video “Pittsburgh To McKeesport By Trolley”. The outbound trip will be shown using slides and the return trip will feature digitized 8mm film taken with a tripod-mounted camera adjacent to the trolley motorman. With its cross-country running, Russ always liked to consider the route 56 as an interurban line, taking one to a small city that once hosted 5 or 6 separate trolley lines. That such a trolley line existed as long as it did is quite remarkable.

Following the McKeesport presentation, Russ will show the film “Turnpikes and Trolleys: The Line to West Chester”. The suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia, one of the country’s largest cities, for the most part had their county governments situated near major roads, often called turnpikes, or ‘pikes’ (e.g. Baltimore Pike, the Lancaster Pike, the Bethlehem Pike). The roadway featured in this video is the West Chester Pike. The magic of electricity made it possible to enhance the use of these roadways by building trolley routes along them, thus finally superseding the sole use of live horsepower for transportation. The same was true of many country roads. Typically county seats had several trolley routes radiating from them, making them more easily accessible from country villages and towns by the means of the most modern method of local transportation then in existence, the electric trolley. The majority of the turnpike and country road trolley lines operated at speeds of 30 miles per hour or less, but some were designed for 50 to 60 miles per hour speeds. The line to West Chester was among the latter, and had a much longer life than most. Therefore rail system historians were able to capture operations of that line on color film. This video is a 70+ year look back into that era.

*Recording unavailable at presenter’s request

Cleveland Transit – Years of Transition

3/23/2021 - Presented by Rich Krisak

This program focuses on the early 50s when the last streetcars ran, the new rapid transit opened and the wires came down on the Cleveland Union Terminal electrification.

Trolley Watches

3/9/2021 - Presented by Philip Sauerlender

Philip Sauerlender will talk about specialized pocket watches made for interurban electric railway employees.  These watches were made specifically to meet the requirements of the interurban railway industry which flourished briefly during the first third of the twentieth century. This program will explain the need for these watches, describe their characteristics, show their advertising, and illustrate many examples.

Red Arrow Lines

2/23/2021 - Presented by John Nicholson

That the Red Arrow has been one of the country’s most successful traction companies is borne out by the fact that much of it continues to operate today under the auspices of SEPTA. CERA’s John Nicholson will present a PowerPoint program taking you back on a journey over the Red Arrow lines with color images dating from the early 1940s to the present.

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Hershey Transit

2/9/2021 - Presented by Lisa Maloy

Lisa Maloy from Friends of the Hershey Trolley will present a slideshow featuring the Hershey Transit system, the milk freight operations with the Hershey Company, the passenger operations through town, and the efforts of the Friends to preserve and share this aspect of Chocolate Town, USA’s history.

*Recording unavailable at presenter’s request.

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PCC: The Amazing Streamlined Streetcar

1/26/2021 - Presented by Tony Schill

“A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever.” So proclaimed a mid-1930’s Westinghouse ad featuring the new PCCs then arriving at transit systems all over North America. Back when the poet Keats penned those words in the early 1800s, he obviously did not have the PCC car in mind. But the words nevertheless remain appropriate in reference to the PCC, even today. The PCC car was a technological and aesthetic triumph that was intended to assure the long future of the traditional electric street railway industry. That goal was successfully achieved, but only for a while.

Just 20 years after the debut of the PCC it had become apparent that the traditional streetcar systems in North America were slowly rolling toward eventual extinction. Happily, that extinction never occurred, though it came all too close. Indeed, the PCC car was a major factor in keeping the streetcar industry alive just long enough to reach the light at the end of the tunnel—light rail and modern streetcar. Let’s go back and take a ride through PCC history!

*Recording unavailable at presenter’s request.

Keeping up with the Joneses: The Life and Career of Mr. P.N. Jones of the Pittsburgh Railways Co.

1/13/2021 - Presented by Father Jack Demnyan

Most Pittsburgh transit fans are familiar with the Jones’ Low Floor Car, that ubiquitous “yellow car” trolley which was the mainstay vehicle for Pittsburgh Railways Co. from the WWI era until the arrival of the PCC streamlined cars.  Few, however, know much about the man behind the machine – Mr. P.N. Jones.  This presentation will focus on his life and career with the Railways while uncovering a few surprises along the way.

Johnstown – Last of the Small-Town Trolleys:  60th Anniversary of the Last Day
+ Bonus: Last Day of Service on the Munhall Line in Pittsburgh

10/13/2020 - Presented by Jim Graebner

Were it not for the sharp climb of the Pittsburgh Railways Company’s Fineview line, the Johnstown Traction Company’s Morrellville line’s steep grade at its outer end would certainly have been more well-known.  As it is, the system is fondly remembered as the “last of the small-town trolleys” and will be the subject of this October Trolleyology presentation by Jim Graebner.

Small Town Trolley Along the Allegheny River

10/7/2020 - Presented by Dennis Cramer

Armstrong County, Pennsylvania was home to 2 separate trolley lines during the first third of the twentieth century. This program will focus on one of them. The Kittanning & Leechburg Railways Company, a small rural line ran for 10 miles in the middle of Armstrong County from 1899 to 1936 that became part of the West Penn Railways System in 1911. The focus of this presentation by Dennis Cramer will be on the communities of Kittanning and Ford City along with a look at Lenape Park, an amusement park owned by the railways company.

A Ride to Charleroi

9/29/2020 - Presented by George Gula

Join PTM Volunteer George Gula for a virtual interurban ride from Pittsburgh through Charleroi south to Roscoe. The scenic Charleroi line featured a number of bridges, followed today’s Routes 51, 88, and 837, and connected the big city with small towns in Allegheny and Washington County until its abandonment in 1953.

A Look Back at the Trolleys of Irwin

9/22/2020 - Presented by Andy Blenko

In the first half of the 20th century, trolleys brought tremendous growth and change to the Borough of Irwin and its surrounding towns in Westmoreland County.  This program from Andy Blenko looks at how the town was served by trolleys and rise and fall of those trolley companies.

On the Warpath! Pennsylvania’s Trolleys during WWII

6/16/2020 - Presented by George Gula

Transit systems were considered vital war industries, yet it was difficult to keep the trolleys running during the war.

Labor shortages, equipment shortages, and a strike involving an army takeover of at least one Pennsylvania property were only some of the issues faced by those running public transit in Pennsylvania. Join volunteer George Gula to see how it was accomplished during WWII.

Allegheny Valley Route

6/9/2020 - Presented by Dennis Cramer

The lower Allegheny Valley, just north of Pittsburgh, hosted three streetcar lines in the early 20th Century, each of them part of a different corporate structure. The Allegheny Valley (West Penn), Tarentum, Breckenridge & Butler and Route 78 of Pittsburgh Railways served the heavily industrialized area along the lower Allegheny River valley.

This presentation, based upon the book Allegheny Valley Trolleys, will be presented by Dennis Cramer, one of the authors and former Chief Instructor of Operator Training at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.

When Bad Things Happen to Good Trolleys

6/3/2020 - Presented by George Gula

Whenever a trolley left the car barn for its day’s work, trouble was never far behind. In this presentation, volunteer George Gula shares a collection of derailments, collisions, floods, snow and ice incidents and all the other things that made the motorman wish he had stayed home and the trolley wish it had stayed in the depot.

Wexford: Station, Post Office, Deli, and Back Again

5/26/2020 - Presented by Scott Becker

The Wexford Station served the Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler & New Castle Railway (“The Harmony Route”) from 1908 until the last trolley ran in 1931. After its life as a passenger and freight station, the building was purchased, moved, and used as a post office, antique shop, and most recently, a deli.

Join Executive Director Scott Becker for a Trolleyology talk about Wexford Station, the route it served, its relocation to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, and its reopening in 2016.

A Collection of Nearly 50 Cars and Counting

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