a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A trolley ride would be nice in these hard times

It wasn’t the car that put the trolley lines out of business in Pittsburgh’s hinterlands.

They actually started to fade after gasoline-powered buses hit the streets May 1, 1933, in the Charleroi area some 37 trolley-car miles south the big city, local historian Mitch Steen reported in 1971 in an article for The Valley Independent.

Old 1721 made it final run to Charleroi, Pa., on June 29, 1953, having met up with huge crowds along the line. Tony Malnerick of Finleyville at the controls while a Lock Four Fire Co. pumper truck escorted the trolley car into the borough as fans and foes of the noisy transportation service said their final goodbyes.

Pennsylvania’s transportation department soon began to rip out the Pittsburgh Railways and cover the line with concrete, a process that continued for at least a decade, to accommodate increased car and bus traffic.

I remember the rough rides in the backseat of a car over the rails that lingered, but never had the pleasure of riding a trolley around the valley towns. In an era of gas prices that helped to cripple the U.S. economy last year, it would be nice to have a reliable interconnected public transportation system like the trolleys still moving as an alternative to doing business.

(Photos courtesy of Charleroi Area Historical Society.)

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