• LVT, P&W, WB&A, and others

  • General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.
General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by walt
 
I understand that much of the right of way of the old Liberty Bell Route of the Lehigh Valley Transit Co. ( 69th Street, Phila - Norristown- Allentown) north of Norristown is still visible. South of Norristown, LVT used the Philadelphia & Western into 69th Street. P&W, as SEPTA Route 100, still operates.--- Also, in Annapolis, MD, graded portions of the old Washington, Baltimore, & Annapolis Electric Railroad exist, without rails, near the Severn River in Annapolis. Also some of the wooden pilings of the bridge across the Severn still exist. ( The southern portion of Baltimore's Central Light Rail Line operates on a portion of the WB&A sucessor Baltimore & Annapolis RR right of way between Camden Station and Cromwell Station-Glen Burnie). This ROW lay dormant from 1951 until the 1990's opening of the southern portion of the CLR line.

  by brinbrin
 
A couple of weeks ago I did some exploring of the old trolley line that ran between West Chester and Downingtown, PA. It parallels the Brandywine River for a few miles. It was torn up for scrap during WWII. It's truly an interesting sight to see cuts and fills deep in the woods. Will try to post some pics in another post.

  by CarterB
 
A trolley line went from West Chester to Downingtown I believe starting in 1902. What was the name of the line, and where along the Brandywine can you still see the ROW?

  by walt
 
That line was originally the West Chester- Downingtown route of the West Chester Street Railway Company--- in later years the Chester Valley Lines. That company also ran service down High Street in West Chester which terminated in front of West Chester State Teacher's College's ( now WCU) "Old Main". I believe that Downingtown run was part of a run to Coatesville which connected with the Conestoga Transit Company's route from Coatesville to Lancaster. WCSR also ran a route to Kennett Square via Lenape. All of these lines were gone by 1930.

  by brinbrin
 
The best place to actually get out and hike part of the old West Chester-Downingtown trolley line is at a small nature area (West Valley Nature Area?) which has a small parking area on the north side of Route 322 about a mile or two east of the newly restored covered bridge over the Brandywine. You can make out the old ROW going along 322 for about 100 yards then it turns abruptly and follows the Brandywine. You can follow it another half mile or so. Do it now...I wouldn't try it in the summer.

On the north side of the newly restored covered bridge you can also see the old ROW going west into the woods. There's also a private road called "Old Trolley Rd" in Downingtown where the old ROW was. It comes off of Route 322 just south of the new WAWA at Boot Rd. It's more or less a long driveway, so no trespassing.

I believe the line crossed Route 322 near where the PECO sub-station is now. My next adventure will be to trace it from there to West Chester.

  by walt
 
I'm a little surprized that there is that much of the old WCSR right of way identifiable-- that line has been gone for more than 70 years. That's kind of like trying to find any of the ROW of the old Southern Pennsylvania Traction Co. Interurban line between Darby and Wilmington Del.

  by CarterB
 
I see doing a Google search that there are books:
West Chester Street Railway Co. by Benson W. Rohrbeck
and
Trolleys of Chester County Pennsylvania: Bowman, Jr. and Cox

Anyone have either?

  by walt
 
I had a copy of the Bowman & Cox book ( it was misplaced during a recent move) That is actually the source of my information on WCSR. It is a typical soft cover Harold Cox book and is worth the investment if you can find it.
Another Harold Cox Book, "Trolleys of Lower Delaware County, Pennsylvania" is a good source of information on the Southern Penn that I mentioned above.

  by brinbrin
 
I think the reason why a lot of the Downingtown trolley ROW is still visible is because it was constructed on unbuildable land. Some of it goes along the Brandywine, so those parts are most likely in a flood plain. Also, just due to the topography of the area it traverses, it really couldn't be used for other things. You have to look for it though...it doesn't stand out. Other than in Downingtown and West Chester, I don't think there was much street trackage...therefore little to get paved over (just really overgrown!).

  by csxvet
 
Getting back to Walt's mention of the Baltimore & Annapolis, interurban archeologists in the Baltimore-Washington area can see a lot of relics of the onetime Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis high-speed mainline between Baltimore and Washington.

Starting in Baltimore, the WB&A's original (1908) terminal and general office building still stands in the triangle between Liberty St. and Park Ave. south of Lexington. Its north-end substation exists at Ostend and Scott Sts., at the point where northbound WB&A trains descended from the long trestle paralleling the B&O mainline and entered Scott St.

In Westport, the WB&A's abandoned tunnel exists alongside the west side of the B-W Parkway at Annapolis Rd. The south portal is plainly visible from the highway. A bit south of there, the underpass under the ex-B&O's Curtis Bay branch is still there -- not to be confused with the nearby light rail underpass, which was originally built for the Baltimore & Annapolis Short Line in 1908, abandoned in 1935, and reopened for the light rail.

The WB&A mainline went directly through present BWI airport, but south of the airport WB&A Road is laid on the right-of-way as far as Odenton. At Odenton, the original WB&A shops are still there, now part of a larger (and, I think, recently closed) manufacturing complex. An ex-PRR industrial spur to this plant follows the former Annapolis & Elk Ridge, later part of the WB&A, from Odenton to the plant. En route it passes the site of the WB&A's Naval Academy Junction station, one of the line's busiest points, where Baltimore and Washington passengers transferred for Annapolis.

South of Odenton the line can be followed either on paths or roads built over sections of the trackbed. I haven't ventured that far south yet, so my knowledge pretty much ends there.

Then, of course, there's the B&A hiking/biking trail, which is laid on the bed of the former Baltimore & Annapolis Short Line, which was part of the WB&A between 1921 and 1935, and then became the Baltimore & Annapolis RR. (The original ASL and WB&A paralleled each other between Linthicum and the present Patapscoi Ave. light rail station. After their merger, most of the redundant ASL track was abandoned, but light rail riders can see the piers of the former ASL Patapsco River bridge alongside the light rail bridge -- which at this point uses the WB&A alignment.) As Walt mentions, the present light rail line uses portions of this line and the WB&A right-of-way between Westport and the Cromwell terminal.

  by CarterB
 
Any visible remnants of the Bay Ridge RR from Annapolis to Bay Ridge?

  by csxvet
 
Good question, Carter. I have no idea. I do remember that the B&A operated a short piece of the Bay Ridge line into the 1950s. It was part of their Parole branch, which left the B&A mainline south of the Severn River trestle and circled around what was the the far west side of Annapolis to the point where it met the WB&A's onetime South Shore branch (originally the Annapolis & Elk Ridge). It then used the ex-WB&A line to Parole. I vaguely recall that the that there was a track crossing where the two lines met, and that the Bay Ridge line then diappeared into the bushes.

One WB&A relic I forgot to mention: The former Linthicum station still stands at Church Rd., now somewhat altered from its original appearance.

  by walt
 
The issue of traction lines crossing mainline railroad lines has created some interestring confrontations. One such confrontation occurred in the 19th century as the West Chester Line of the Red Arrow lines predecessor Philadelphia & West Chester Traction Co. was being built thorugh Llanerch, Pa. PRR had just completed a small branch line which crossed the Phila- West Chester Turnpike at Llanerch. ( P&WCT was, at the time, a subsidiary of the turnpike company) When P&WCT attempted to put in a crossing, the railroad stationed a steam engine on the crossing and sprayed live steam on the trolley cconstruction crews to prevent installation of the crossing. Cross injunctions were obtained, and the whole incident delayed installation of the crossing almost four months. Finally, PRR's injuction expired and the crossing was installed. Trolley service outlasted passenger service on the railroad there by 46 years.
  by Lucius Kwok
 
The P&W Strafford line, abandoned in the 1950s, is being turned into a linear park. This was a fully grade-separated third-rail interurban trolley line. A couple of months ago, it was completely overgrown with trees 20-30 feet high. Some concrete piers which used to support wooden station platforms still existed when I last toured the line a few weeks ago. The line is currently a construction zone with heavy machinery.

  by walt
 
Too bad they won't restore rail service--- that was the original P&W line opened in 1907---- Norristown didn't open until 1912.