Facebook Page
Philly NRHS - Lehigh Valley Transit


Home Chapter History National Info Chapter Info CINDERS Newsletter Our FP7A Transportation Links Railfan Links


The Philadelphia Chapter of the

National Railway Historical Society

Established in 1936


Lehigh Valley Transit - "Liberty Bell Route"

  A brief history of the LVT
  The jigsaw puzzle that eventually became trolley service from Allentown to Philadelphia had its origins in a myriad of traction companies that were formed in the late 19th Century. In 1893, the Allentown and Lehigh Valley Traction Company was created by Albert Johnson to compete with other trolley lines in the Lehigh Valley. By 1898 the Quakertown Traction Company was running from Richlandtown to Perkasie and by 1900 the Inland Traction Company was running from Perkasie to Lansdale and the Montgomery Traction Company from Lansdale to Norristown. In 1901 the newly formed Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley Traction Company under Albert Johnson merged with or leased several lines in the Lehigh and Delaware Valleys with aspirations to head north to New York City. Alas, Mr. Johnson died later that year and the company was in receivership by 1903. Even in receivership, expansion continued with Allentown to Chestnut Hill service commencing the same year, eventually connecting with the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company to gain access to Philadelphia.
  In 1905 the assets of the Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley Traction Company were acquired by the Lehigh Valley Transit Company, and the new owners started an extensive rebuilding of existing lines and expansion of the LVT's Philadelphia Division that culminated in the completion of the route from Allentown to 69th Street via the Philadelphia and Western in December 1912. Service on the former Inland Traction route from North Wales to Chestnut Hill continued until 1926, the route between Quakertown and Richlandtown until 1929, both replaced by bus. The LVT and P&W both reorganized during the next twenty years (LVT twice), but trolleys continued to roll, thanks to its low cost to riders during the Depression and its vital service during the rationing of World War II.
  However, with the post war period changes in personal lifestyle, corporate strategy and public policy, the car became the favored mode of transportation and thus began the decline of the trolley in both urban and interurban settings. In 1947 LVT was reorganizing again, adjusting schedules to reflect the reduction in ridership, and the next year the P&W was purchased by Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (PSTC, aka Red Arrow). By 1949, LVT passenger cars were no longer running all the way to 69th Street, instead transferring passengers to the P&W at Norristown (freight cars continued to service 72nd Street freight terminal) and that year LVT completely abandoned the Easton Division. Two years later, on the evening of September 6 1951, LVT management abruptly announced the abandonment of the Philadelphia Division effective the next day, replacing the route with bus service. In 1953 LVT replaced all remaining trolley routes with buses. By 1956 even the Liberty Bell Route bus was gone. During the late 1960's the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) acquired assets of the Philadelphia Transit Company (PTC) and the PSTC including the P&W. The remnants of LVT eventually became part of Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA) in 1972.
Sources "Lehigh Valley Transit Company's Liberty Bell Route: A Photographic History" by William J. McKelvey Jr.
  "The Liberty Bell Route's Heavy Interurban Cars : History and Rosters" published by the Lehigh Valley Chapter NRHS
Photos Lehigh Valley Transit "The Liberty Bell Route" Lansdale, Center Valley and Norristown PA

More Lehigh Valley Transit West Point, Center Valley, Norristown and Allentown PA

  Even more Lehigh Valley Transit Rink Siding and P&W Station Norristown PA
  Still even more Lehigh Valley Transit Allentown, Quakertown and Sellersville PA
  A couple "Compare and Contrast" shots of Lehigh Valley Transit equipment and right of way
Posters/Ads Courtesy of the Jeff Marinoff Collection

Lehigh Valley Transit Annual Dogwood Excursion poster


Lehigh Valley Transit Valley Forge Historical Tour poster

  Electric Railway Journal/J.G. Brill advertisement featuring P&W Brill Bullet 2002



Direct website questions or comments to phillynrhs webmaster

Website created June 12, 2002

Last Updated May 5, 2010