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‘Trolley Rails and Spooky Tales’

Riders can hear Halloween ghost stories aboard vintage trolley

October 1, 2010
The Herald-Star

WASHINGTON - The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum will host Trolley Rails and Spooky Tales and Pumpkin Patch rides this October.

Join storytellers aboard a vintage trolley Oct. 22-23 and 29-30 to hear Halloween ghost stories. Doors open at 6 p.m., with trolley rides at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Stories are appropriate for families with children ages 5-12. Included in admission is a second ride on the "Cobweb Shuttle," and children's access to a maze. Seating is limited to 45 for each of the two trips and tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pumpkin Patch rides will take place Oct. 8-10, 15-17 and 22-24. Children will ride to the pumpkin patch, choose a pumpkin and decorate it. Admission also includes a ride on the Harvest Shuttle, decorated for the season. Trolleys leave every half hour from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Admission is $9 for adults; $8 for seniors 62 and older; $5 for children ages 3 to 15; and children aged 2 and under are free. There is a $30 family rate for two adults and four children.

There also will be park and ride service during the Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts Christmas Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 15-17 and 23-24. The cost is $2 per person to park a vehicle at the museum and ride a trolley to the fairgrounds. Museum and festival admission is extra.

Pennsylvania Trolley Museum preserves a collection of electric railway and railroad equipment, associated artifacts and photo/document archives. The museum evolved over the past 50 years from a handful of volunteers and a few trolleys to approximately 600 members and more than 50 railway historic vehicles preserved at its museum. Visitors ride the museum's restored streetcars for a four-mile ride. The collection includes historic streetcars from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and even the famous "Streetcar Named Desire" from New Orleans.

The museum's beginnings go back to 1946 when the Pittsburgh Electric Railway Club was organized. Between 1949 and 1953, three cars were acquired. In late 1953, the group organized as a nonprofit corporation and purchased a 2,000-foot section of the Pittsburgh Railways Co.'s Washington interurban trolley line. In 1954, these three cars were moved under their own power from Pittsburgh to the museum's new home. During the next nine years, museum volunteers constructed storage tracks and a carbarn to protect the trolley cars and set up a diesel generator to provide the power necessary to operate the cars.

The museum opened to the public in June 1963, and provided visitors with short demonstration trolley rides plus an informal tour of the carbarn. Two years later an 80-foot 1923 railroad baggage/passenger car was acquired and turned into a gift shop/museum area. A restoration shop was built in 1975 to provide additional indoor storage for the trolley collection and an area for trolley car restoration, and, in 1988, a restoration parts storeroom was added. The museum's visitor education center was added and opened to the public in 1993. Between 1979 and 1995, the museum's volunteers extended its operating trolley line up the Arden Valley along an abandoned coal mine railroad spur. The museum completed this one-mile segment of track with the opening of a trolley turning loop in 1995. The original line was extended east with a second turning loop in 2004. The second loop allows for single-ended streetcars to be regularly used and brought the operating line to a full two miles long.

In 2005, a 28,000-square-foot trolley display building was opened, allowing most of its trolley car collection to be protected under cover and on display. Other recent projects include the construction of a new electrical substation to covert commercial alternating current to direct current that powers the streetcars and a solar energy system installed to harness some of the sun's energy to help power the streetcars.

During 2009, more than 150 people contributed more than 28,000 hours to operate the museum and more than 21,000 people visited the museum from around the world.

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