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RyPN Briefs June 25, 2006
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Antique Open Trolley Car Added to Pennsylvania Trolley Museum Collection

Carpenter Shop showing the open cars being built at the streetcar company's shops in Rio de Janeiro in the years before WWI.
Photo from the collection of William E. Wood.

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, Inc. (PTM) is pleased to announce the addition of vintage open trolley car No. 1758 to its collection. This car arrived by highway aboard a specially-built low bed trailer on Saturday June 3rd and is now available for public viewing in the Museum's Display Car House.

Open car moving towards the museum on Country Club Road. Jim Herron photo.

This brightly painted trolley is a classic example of a "picnic" or "summer" car that features long varnished wood benches, no sides, and upper windows made of chipped glass. This "breezer" trolley was a type that was popular in the two decades before World War I, particularly for taking families to the amusement park or out for a night in the cool air.

Rolling temporary broad gauge trucks under the car. Scott Becker photo.

This particular car was built about 1911 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where it served into the early 1960s. The car was beautifully restored to like-new condition in the late 1960s while at the Magee Transportation Museum (MGT) near Bloomsburg, PA. In June of 1972 the museum was devastated by hurricane Agnes, followed by the death of the founder, Harry L. Magee, in October. His heirs had no interest in the museum, especially in light of the damage done by the hurricane, and most of the assets were auctioned off. However the trolleys were sold piecemeal, later, as buyers came forward.

Same car in August 1969 when it was first restored at the Magee Transportation Museum. Joe Lance photo.

1758 was moved first to New Jersey in 1973 where it was displayed near Atlantic City. It changed owners at least once before going to Florida. It was displayed for a time in south Florida, and then operated at Grand Cypress Resort. After the resort changed hands and the new owners decided they didn't want a trolley operation, the car was sold to the City of Orlando for a proposed heritage trolley which was never funded. 1758 was then stored for number of years before the city sold the car to save the expense of storage costs.

The car was acquired from the City of Orlando thanks to funds donated by Dick Scaife, a long-time Museum supporter.

Up in the Air on our electric jacks so broad gauge trucks can go underneath. Scott Becker photo.

PTM plans to operate the car on its two mile long demonstration trolley line once its wheels are modified to fit the Museum's track. Scott Becker, PTM's Executive Director, said "We are very excited to add this car to our fleet and feel it will be a whole new experience for our visitors, particularly on hot summer days," noting that "Pittsburgh hasn't seen this type of trolley since 1925."

Being pulled through the City of Orlando warehouse it was long stored. Fred Lonnes photo.

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum's mission to preserve and interpret the Trolley Era and is open to the public April-December. It is a nonprofit museum that has operated in Washington, PA for over 50 years, staffed largely by volunteers.

Pushing open car into Display Car House by our volunteers. Scott Becker photo.
Group photo of the PTM volunteers who unloaded the car and re-trucked it in four hours! Jim Herron photo.

This summer the Museum is open every day through Labor Day, 10am-4pm Monday-Friday and 11am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday. It is easily reached from the I-79 Exit 41 Race Track Road exit. For more information call 724-228-9256 or visit the museum website.