There’s a unique old trolley graveyard in Pennsylvania I was able to visit with a camera for a fascinating walk-through. Although the overall feel of the place is very apocalyptic and very ruined, being there was an interesting chance to look into history.
Taking a trolley was once part of the way of life in this country. They were mobility and movement, transportation for many. It was easy, convenient, and much better than walking or using a horse, especially in bad weather. They connected neighborhoods to their downtowns and with branches to outlying towns, nearby communities to one another.
Trolley systems were put into decline years ago mostly by the rise of the automobile and personal transportation, not to mention actions of corporate players who gained from seeing them go. Tire manufacturers, bus companies, and car builders were among them.
Most of these streetcars were abandoned and scrapped years ago. This collection was gathered by one man hoping to make a trolley museum someday but it didn’t come to be. The thirty or forty trolleys sitting outside here are now used mostly as parts for other survivors elsewhere. However, there are few restored trolleys on-site in a locked building which I didn’t see.
Although some places today use very modern trolley systems and advanced public transportation systems, the heyday of this kind of once plentiful trolley is long gone. In fact, many cities and towns still have abandoned streetcar tracks everywhere under their asphalt paved streets.
Walking Through The Trolley Graveyard
This ghost town of trolleys is lined up on three long parallel tracks out through the woods. Not surprisingly, young trees are growing up around them that really add to the apocalyptic feel of the place. Mother Nature rules here.
Mainly later model metal PCC cars, every one is in rough condition with a lot of rust coming through the faded paint. Many have an uneven lean to one side or the other. Vandals have ravaged the plentiful copper wiring out of their insides and broken windows. Lightly built, some trolleys with wooden floors have fallen through and sit haphazardly on their trucks like a frozen-in-time slow-motion crash landing.
Most of them can be entered. Poles and seats remain along with the operator controls; gauges, switches, and throttle. Some advertising can be seen above the seats and the sliding doors hang ajar. Leaves have blown in over time and collected into piles under the seats and fogged windows look into the woods, not a city street.
They’ve come to rest here mainly from the cities. You can see streetcars from the PAT line in Pittsburgh, the T line from Boston, and some from Houston. Most of them are old classic PCC cars, a type of modern trolley that replaced their wooden forerunners.
I hope you enjoy this gallery of slightly gritty history and unusual things not often seen today. Artist-made prints are available on high gloss metal, stretched canvas, and matted paper.