The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum (PTM) is proud to boast more than 120+ volunteers! Whenever you walk into the maintenance shop, through the green spaces, the store, Trolley Display Building or any portion of the museum, you will probably come face-to-face with a volunteer.
I began at PTM in 1969. Have served a number of terms on Board of Directors/Trustees; also as President, Vice President and Treasurer. Edited (and personally printed!) Trolley Fare for several years. Served as Operator and Instructor; helped develop several Operations Department publications. From 1993 through 2018 served as Archivist, during which time the collection expanded from occupying one 150-square foot room to a bit more than 10,000 square feet. Also chaired Publications Committee which produced a number books and 30 Western PA Trolley Calendars. Historic interest specialty is West Penn Railways. Produced PTM’s first seven or eight exhibits in the visitor center.
I’m a retired hearing aid specialist, but continue to volunteer with both state and national professional groups; am a member of the International Hearing Society’s Education Committee and oversaw a working group which produced wholly-new training manuals/procedures for persons entering the profession. My wife and I will be moving to Berks County during the summer of 2020 to be closer to family as we age. Where has the last half-century gone?!
I grew up in the Pittsburgh suburb of West View where trolleys, or streetcars as they were known, literally ran in my back yard. I was always interested in electricity and pretty much took the streetcars for granted – until one day in the mid 60’s they were gone. My childhood friend Ray “Windle” somehow became interested in what was then the Arden Trolley Museum and eventually persuaded me to come check it out. Translation – Windle needed a ride and I had a car. I was about 17 then and Windle had let some of the older volunteers at the Museum know that I knew a lot about electricity, so on his first visit they gave me something to do and thanked me for doing it, which is something I still remember and try to emulate when newbies come along.
I have been pretty much a regular at the Trolley Museum since that time and have held many positions in the organization including President, and currently serve as chairman of the East Campus Committee. Often you’ll find my wife and I (Mary) working together on a project such as locomotive B-73, or in the shop, or pulling communication cables, or serving as crew members. Mary likes to tell people I brought her to the Museum on our first date, so she’d know what she was getting into. I think it was actually our second date, but there’s no way I can win that argument. We have two grown children, Beth and Jason, and two Grandchildren, Carter and Aliana.
When asked which is my favorite trolley, I will probably say Red Arrow #66, partly because I organized transporting it here when we acquired it in 1970, but mostly because it’s just such a big massive car and gives the operator a real sense of power tempered with responsibility when you mount the cab and take charge of this 30 ton vehicle with a full load of passengers. But lately I have grown rather fond of another car, West Penn 832. This beautifully restored car, now the only fully operational passenger car from the West Penn System, had some problems in the late stages of the rebuild, and when it became obvious something was lacking performance-wise, I was asked to get involved with the project and try to figure out what the problem was. After numerous electrical measurements and days of painstaking research, I determined that West Penn had rewound the motors in their shops to a specification greatly different from the Westinghouse drawings we had for those motors, but the corresponding car wiring was not documented. The problem was further compounded when even at low speed, one of the motors blew an armature. To cut to the chase, all four motors were shipped to Swiger Coil in Cleveland where they were reverse engineered to the West Penn design and the car was rewired accordingly. Now finally ready for public operation in the 2020 season, this car promises to be one of our star attractions.
One of the several hats I wear regularly around PTM is building maintenance. If you have skills in painting, plumbing, carpentry, roofing, siding, wiring, or general building maintenance, I would like to hear from you. Just contact our Volunteer Coordinator and she’ll help you get started.
My wife of many decades, Carol, and I have two semi-adorable children, a very fine son-in-law and two active grandchildren.
Although I was there at the birth of agriculture and the dawn of the Bronze Age, even in olde age learning and development is possible.
Volunteering in the Education and Tours Department is a refreshing and somewhat new endeavor for me compared to what I did in formal education and work. Meaning, a background in economics and accounting (stuck between the dismal science and boring).
To a very large degree in the Education and Tours Department I have had the pleasure of interacting with the Museum's professional staff with many types of events and diverse groups. Each visitor or groups of visitors requires coupling the visitation with some type of educational twist. Every visitor or group is different and requires a very quick read as to how to make their visit enjoyable for them and bringing the educational aspect of what the Museum has to offer and enhance their visit with knowledge. The visitors have diverse educational or knowledge backgrounds and may be extremely interested or perhaps only on one bit about the Museum--like, where's the Wexford Deli. It is rewarding to share knowledge or offer assistance in what all the Museum has to offer in other areas.
Over time, one area that has hit me is having the ability to interact with diverse groups of people; especially, families doing things as families. This has been a very added plus for me.
Hi I am Katie Imler.
I have been volunteering at the museum for almost 10 years now. I was volunteering for another organization when I signed up to bring adoptable cats to Frank the cat's book signing. While here for that event I signed up to volunteer. I was eager to learn everything there was to operate a trolley, but there was no classes until fall so I started working in the shop. As I worked in the shop, I seen other opportunities and I also helped in those areas. Along with many other volunteers, I became friends with Dan (Bower), who is the manager of grounds and started helping him with mowing. I feel that the first impression our customers get is important and having the grass mowed early in the morning is a vital part of that. Besides, the rest of the day may be needed to work on the mowers or planting/weeding flowers or fixing the parking lot or trimming trees. That is why I like this job because there is so much variety in a day also my profession was truck driver and I plowed snow for the state of PA so I like being outside and operating equipment.
My name is Wayne Wicks and I volunteer in the Maintenance Department at the Trolley Museum. I am a graduate of Peters Township High School (63), graduate of Penn Technical Institute (66), earned a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh (83) and a Master of Science in Manufacturing Systems Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh (97). I retired after 24 years from Naval Reserve as a Cryptologic Chief Warrant Officer (89).
It is ironic that I end up volunteering at the Trolley Museum because I started my electronics career in February 1965 at the RCA plant just down the road. I have spent 38 of my 52 years of working in the transportation industry. I retired from Bombardier Transportation were we built People Movers after 25 years in 2015.
While working at Bombardier I met Dave Hamley. We worked on several projects together. Dave encouraged me to become a volunteer at the Trolley Museum. Due to correctable medical condition I was unable to volunteer until January 2018. I met Dave at the Museum in January 2018 and he gave me a great tour. So I started volunteering in February 2018 in the Maintenance Department.
Here are some of the Maintenance activates I perform: grease the undercar, drain and replace various oils, repair interiors, remove and reinstall motors, check the water level in the batteries, light machining, painting, some electrical work and other task to keep/put the car back to their original condition. This opportunity keeps me connected with the transportation industry and to use my previous experiences to preserve some history. Growing up in this area I rode on the streetcars as a child and now I work on them.
I have taken an interest in transit since I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are going with my grandmother for rides on the elevated subway in Queens, NY. I later took an interest in streetcars when I lived along a streetcar line in Toronto, Ontario. After I graduated college in 2013, I signed up as a volunteer in the shop and loved it. I joined the Operations department as an operator shortly afterwards and a couple years later, started operating at the Port Authority of Allegheny County. As a PTM operator, I like to get some variety. I volunteer during special events, regular revenue days, maintenance shifts, and even occasionally on work cars doing more behind the scenes tasks. I try to vary the equipment too, which keeps things interesting and helps me in my other department, maintenance, by keeping me on a first name basis with the fleet. I like seeing the smiles on visitors’ faces. They remind me of the smiles I had when my parents and grandparents took me to places like PTM when I was a kid.
Power & Signal Volunteer
Since joining the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in 1994, I have been fortunate to witness our organization make incredible strides thanks to our exemplary volunteer membership working together with our outstanding staff. I began volunteering with the Power & Signal Department in 1998, and in that capacity, I feel very fortunate to have been a small part of some of the largest projects in PTM’s history; including construction of the overhead wire, power distribution, and signal systems for the track extension to the East Site, Trolley Display Building as well as the Fairgrounds Siding and Platform Project, to name a few.
Utilizing a great deal of the knowledge I gained from volunteering with PTM helped me to earn an Associate’s Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Penn State in 2005. Since 2008, I have been employed by Port Authority of Allegheny County, holding several positions before being promoted to LRT Systems Supervisor, where I am responsible for supervising overhead, substation and signal maintenance crews.
What I enjoy the most about volunteering with the Power & Signal Department at the Museum is the sense of accomplishment that comes from a job well-done, and the camaraderie of working alongside very talented, dedicated and hard-working people, including, but not limited to: Scott Davis, Kevin Zebley, Armand Latour, Larry Lovejoy, Sarah and Laura Wells, Michael Buchta, Dennis Bockus, Brett Freithaler, Adam Quigg, and Chris Walker.
Finally, I would like to thank Scott Davis as well as the late Art Schwartz and the late Tony DeSensi for being great friends and mentors who helped me to turn a hobby into a very enjoyable and rewarding career.
Hi, My name is Artie Ellis and I’ve been a volunteer at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum since around 1971. Many of you know my father, Art Ellis member #5 who has been volunteering at the museum since the Earth cooled. He fostered my interest trolleys and trains when I was just a wee lad and being that he was a tinkerer and gadgeteer, I inherited those genes.
Logically, my education followed a technical path with days spent in the high school shop doing trolley museum work such as making doors for the West Penn center door car as well as for the Armco diesel. I also learned some basic machining skills. At that point I thought woodworking would be my career path but ultimately the latter won.
In 1979, I earned an AAS in machine tool technology which included introducing me to Computer Numerical Control (CNC) which was ascending at the time. A couple of years of work experience later, I was hired by IBM Boulder and entered their tool and model maker apprentice program where in addition to more CNC, I learned Computer Aided Design (CAD). To me this was a match made in heaven as, to put it simply, it lets you accurately draw what you want to make and provides the path to machine it. Over the 30+ years I spent at IBM, I was always thinking about how this would benefit trolley restoration and rebuilding.
Since retiring in 2016, I’ve had the pleasure of working with talented volunteers who encouraged me and gave direction so I could fill a void in reproducing lost artifacts. West Penn 832’s restoration team supplied me with original photographs of the end dash and hand brake which we reproduced using modern investment casting and CNC machining technology. This is one example of the problem solving that keeps me coming back and it is what I like to do. I must say however, the biggest reward is working, talking and sharing with the talented volunteers and staff at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. We are family.
Special Events Volunteer
Way & Track Volunteer
I am a 33 year old native of the west end of Pittsburgh (on the Pittsburgh Railways 31 line I think). I currently live in Cecil Township. I never knew much about streetcars other than were the old lines ran through the Crafton-Ingram area. This knowledge unfortunately came from my time working for the public works department tearing up roads with old trolley tracks buried beneath. I have always had an interest in history and railroads of western PA, however.
I started my railroad career in the maintenance department of Union Railroad Company in 2009. Through the railroad, I attended Point Park University part time in order to obtain a Civil Engineering degree, and ultimately my current position in Union Railroad’s parent company, Transtar, a division of US Steel. Although my current position gives me the ability to work on some very interesting and challenging projects, I am not able to do the physical work of railroad maintenance as I once did. It was because of this I looked to volunteer at the PA Trolley Museum.
I have only been volunteering at the museum since July of 2019. Even though I haven’t been volunteering long I have felt very welcome at the museum. It doesn’t seem to matter what size of project I am working on at the museum, someone is always very appreciative for the help or willing to help themselves. Specifically, working with the Way and Track guys such as Larry, Dan, and George has been very enjoyable, and has even helped me in my current career. All three have lent their years of knowledge in the industry to not only help me at the museum but help me hone my skills in the workplace. Not only have I enjoyed repairing tracks the way I used to at Union Railroad, I have been able to be on some projects involving general upkeep of the museum property and buildings. I have even worked with Bernie and others in the shop repairing cars, which was something different than what I was used to so I was able to learn a lot. Currently, I am working with Larry on drawings for the Trolley Street Project. As he has guided me through the process of producing these drawings, simultaneously similar projects are underway in my actual job.
Working at the museum has been a unique experience in that I get the chance to go back to the work I used to do, preserve some history for future generations, and enjoy the company of friends. The help, support, and enjoyment I receive from working at the museum vastly outweighs the work I have put in.