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Electric City Trolley Museum and Stations 4/30/2023

by Chris Guenzler

The two travellers arose in Wilkes-Barre and after our internet duties, we checked out and went to Perkins for an excellent breakfast. Afterwards, we stopped at a couple of CVS stores and Elizabeth purchased plenty of film then made our way to Scranton, this time going to the other museum.

A Brief History

The Electric City Trolley Museum is a collaborative effort among many different partners. Working together, they have created a premier electric railway museum in Scranton. Back in 1887 Scranton was the first city in Pennsylvania with a successful pioneer trolley line and became known as the Electric City. This museum's collection provides a highly representative picture of the electric railway history of eastern Pennsylvania, from Philadelphia to Northeast Pennsylvania. The museum was created by the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority. Lackawanna County manages the day-to-day operations. The facility itself is located on the Steamtown National Historic Site and is on a long-term lease from the National Park Service.

Our visit

We started our visit with the outside trolleys.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority "bullet" car 206 built by J.G. Brill Company in 1931, ex. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority 206 1970 to 1995, exx. Buckingham Valley Trolley Association in New Hope, Pennsylvania)206 1995 to 1999, exxx. Philadelphia Suburban Transportation 206 1948 to 1970, nee Philadelphia & Western 206 1931 to 1948. It was acquired in 1999.

Museum scene.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority freight motor 401 built by J.G. Brill Company in 1903, ex. Buckingham Valley Trolley Association in New Hope 401 1990 to 1999, exx. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority 401 1970 to 1990, exxx. Philadelphia Suburban Transportation 401 1948 to 1970, Philadelphia and Western 401 1930 to 1948, nee Philadelphia & Western 1 1907 to 1930. This car was also acquired in 1999.

Philadelphia Transportation Company streetcar 8534 built by J.G. Brill Company in 1926, ex. Buckingham Valley Trolley Association in New Hope 8534 1975 to 1999, exx. Trolley Valhalla (Tansboro, New Jersey), 8534 1958 to 1975, exx. Philadelphia Transportation Company 8534 1940 to 1958, nee Philadelphia Rapid Transit 8434 1926 to 1940. Between 1978 to 1980, and again from 1993 to 2004, it was on loan to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

MacAndrews and Forbes Company 10 built by General Electric in 1925, ex. Buckingham Valley Trolley Association in New Hope 1975 to 1999, ex. Trolley Valhalla (Tansboro, New Jersey) 1965-1975. The MacAndrews and Forbes Company was a licorice manufacturer in Camden, New Jersey which operated an internal industrial railway electrified at 250 volts direct current. Little four-wheeled locomotives like 10 worked at moving and distributing supplies and finished materials within the plant compound and 10 survives today as an example of how electric railway technology was applied to industrial applications.

Next we went inside the museum, paid the admission and started to explore.

Reading Transit & Light streetcar Birney safety car 506 built by Osgood-Bradley in 1920, ex. Buckingham Valley Trolley Association 506 1985 to 1999, nee Reading Transit & Light 506 1920 to 1947. It is on display as cutaway "Trolleys Exposed" exhibit.

The trolley motor in this car.

Trolleys, Ecomonics and the Roaring Twenties display board.

Substation switchboard.

Philadelphia & Western interurban coach 46 built by St. Louis Car Company in 1907, ex. Buckingham Valley Trolley Association 46 1976 to 1999, exx. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority 46 1970 to 1976, exxx. Philadelphia Suburban Transportation 46 1948 to 1970, exxxx. Phildelphia and Western 446 1929 to 1948, nee Philadelphia & Western 46 1907 to 1929.

It remains as the sole surviving representative of the first generation of cars to run on the Philadelphia & Western Railway, a third-rail line built to high standards from 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby to Strafford, with a later branch to Norristown. Car 46 survived because the P&W converted it in 1928 into work car 446, with boxcar-like doors cut into its sides. It fell into disuse in later years and was retired in 1976. In preservation, its exterior appearance has been restored back to its original elegance, complete with arched leaded-glass windows.

Lehigh Valley Transit interurban "Liberty Bell" car 801 built by Jewett Car Company in 1912, ex. East Penn Valley Traction (Topton) 801 1980 to 1999, exx. Liberty Bell Jewett Society 801 1973 to 1980, exxx. Magee Trolley Museum (Bloomsburg) 801 1967 to 1973, nee Lehigh Valley Transit (Allentown) 801 1912 to 1939.

Third Avenue Railway System open bench trolley 651 built by J.G. Brill Company in 1898, ex. Buckingham Valley Trolley Association 651 1975 to 1999, exx. Trolley Valhalla (Tansboro, New Jersey) 24 1960 to 1975, exxx. Five Mile Beach Electric (Wildwood, New Jersey) 24 1914 to 1945, exxxx. Union Railway (New York City) 931 1898, nee Third Avenue Railway System 651 1898 to 1914.

Delaware Electric Power rail-grinding work car 120 built by Jackson & Sharp in 1904, ex. Buckingham Valley Trolley Association 120 1975 to 1999, exx. Trolley Valhalla 120 1971 to 1975, exxx. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority W58 1968 to 1971, exxxx. Philadelphia Transportation Company W58 1940 to 1968, exxxx. Delaware Electric Power 120 1927 to 1940, exxxxx. Wilmington and Philadelphia Traction 120 1910 to 1927, nee Wilmington City Railwa 120 1904 to 1910.

Philadelphia Transportation Company streetcar 5205 built by J.G. Brill Company in 1923, ex. Buckingham Valley Trolley Association 5205 1975 to 1999, exx. Trolley Valhalla 5205 1957 to 1975, exxx. Philadelphia Transportation Company 5205 1940 to 1957, exxx. Philadelphia Rapid Transit 5205 1926 to 1940, nee Philadelphia Rapid Transit 5287 1923 to 1926. It was originally 5'2.5" gauge.

Scranton Mountain model.

Trolleys in a display case.

These models were built by Dward Miller, including the Wilkes-Barre Railway Company Car 516.

Wilkes-Barre Railway Company model and control handles.

Philadelphia streetcar model.

Museum scene.

Third Rail Electric Power.

Getting Power to the Rails.

Trolley signal system.

Electric railroads were dangerous.

Trolleys of the Anthracite Coal Regions - Pottsville area - display board.

Trolley display board.

Market Street Elevated model.

The Electric Northeast circa 1913.

The Electric City neon sign.

Watch Out For Third Rail and Generating Electricity display board.

A Day at the Park display board.

Northern Electric Street Railway and Wilkes-Barre & Hazelton Railway display board.

The Anthracite Interurbans and Laurel Lines display board.

Images above the doors of the Electric Theater. This concluded our visit to the Electric City Trolley Museum; we will return another time to ride the trolley as it was drizzling outside and neither of us wanted to ride in the rain.

I drove us east to Stroudsburg for our first station of the day.

Susquehanna Railroad Stroudsburg station built in 1882. Next we went to East Stroudsburg.

Delaware Lackawanna and Western East Stroudsburg station built in 1864. The station served as the local stop for both East Stroudsburg and Stroudsburg. The depot was known locally as the Dansbury Depot for the restaurant that used the building. Service ended on January 6, 1970 when the Erie Lackawanna Railway discontinued the Lake Cities. A proposal is currently in place to extend New Jersey Transit service to a rebuilt East Stroudsburg station and in spring 2021, Amtrak announced plans for potential New York–Scranton route. It is currently used by some of Steamtown National Historic Site's excursion trains. The station was was gutted by fire on October 26, 2009 and moved to its current location east of the tracks in 2010. Since 2017, it has been run by East Stroudsburg Community Alliance and is open for functions and railroad events.

Delaware Lackawanna and Western tower built in 1908. The East Stroudsburg Tower controlled the switches and signals on the main tracks between Broad Street and Federal Street. When the tower was built, there were two main tracks from Federal Street to Hoboken, four tracks from Broad Street to Henryville (about nine miles north of the tower) and at least two other tracks. There were several other tracks and switches in the area, but these were not controlled from the tower. It had 38 levers and when the tower was first built, all were used. This was unusual; most towers were provided with spare levers, or at least spare spaces for levers. Over the years, some switches and signals were removed, leaving a few levers as spares. A major reason for the change to the operation was made in about 1937, when the mechanical signals were replaced by colour light signals.

I heard a horn from the west and knew we had a train coming.

A training run of a Steamtown train going to Delaware Water Gap. After that surprise, I drove us to High Bridge, New Jersey for their station.

Central Railroad of New Jersey High Bridge station built in 1913, which is the western terminus of the New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line. The Central Railroad of New Jersey constructed an extension of the former Elizabeth and Somerville Railroad from Clinton (modern-day Annandale) in 1852. In order to complete the railroad, it required traversing the Raritan River valley. This was problematic for the planners, who finally decided that a high bridge was the route to go in constructing the line. The railroad constructed a new bridge that was 1,300 feet long and 120 feet high above the Raritan River. The bridge involved eight massive piers of 100 feet stone. The construction of the bridge cost $200,000.

We then made our way to Ringoes.

Pennsylvania Railroad Ringoes station built 1854 which is used by the Black River and Western Railway. From here we drove to Pennington.

Delaware & Bound Brook (Reading) Pennington station built in 1882. The first tracts in Pennington were completed in 1873, providing service to the Mercer and Somerset rail line but by 1976, the Delaware and Brook Bound line ran it out of business. The station was designed by Daniel A. Clarkson and in 1882, it was completed by Irish workers. It was leased to the Reading Railroad for 990 years for $275,000 plus taxes. By the 1900's, roughly 50 trains stopped at the station, carrying mail, passengers and freight from Trenton, Philadelphia and New York and was round the clock staffed by an agent and three clerks.

From 1888 to 1931, the stationmaster was Frank Butler Jamison. In 1911, Theodore Roosevelt stopped at the station during his Bull Moose Campaign. After World War I, automobile ownership rose and the station declined, cutting Sunday services in 1945. In 1962, Reading Railroad had only two trains stopping at the station and in 1967 discontinued service completely. The station is located along the CSX Trenton Subdivision and West Trenton Line which New Jersey Transit plans to revive for commuter rail service, however these plans do not include the reopening of the station, which is now a private residence.

I then drove us to Lawrenceville where we had dinner at The Habit before checking into the Quality Inn, where I wrote the Steamtown story before we called it a night.