This is the only car in the BSM collection to have been operated by each of the three representative types of power used by Baltimore's street railways— horse, cable and electric. No. 417 began its career as a horsecar for the City Passenger, probably the car's builder as well. When cable cars were introduced to the city in the early 1890s, No. 417 was altered to be a trailer car on the cable line. Following the short-lived stint of the cable car in Baltimore, the vehicle was converted to electric operation in 1896 and saw service until the early 1900s. This car seated 20 passengers. Since it was built in the days before heaters, a supply of straw was included in the winter for passengers in which to bury their feet to keep from freezing.
Car 554, Year 1896 Image Credit: Dave Wilson
Prior to the turn of the century, streetcars were built almost exclusively for either summer or winter service, father than year-round operation. No. 554 is representative of the former type. Part of an order of 75 cars, it was constructed by the Brownell Car Company of St. Louis, Missouri, for the Baltimore Traction Company. (There are probably only five Brownell cars left in existence. The BSM has three in its collection: Nos.554, 1050 and 264). Being completely open, No. 554 was used only in the summer. Passengers boarded and alighted at any point along the running board, which stretched the full length of the vehicle. There is no aisle down the center, and the nine benches span the entire width of the car, accommodating 45 seated persons. Passengers could stand on the back platform and sometimes illegally on the running board, but had to jockey for positions with the conductor, who used this means to walk back and forth while collecting fares. These cars were very popular during sweltering Baltimore summers, and No. 554 provides a good example of nature’s air-conditioning several generations before man-made versions became commonplace. This car remaining in use until about 1919.
Car 264, Year 1900 Image Credit: Chris McNally
This is an early example of the "convertible car"— one that could be operated all year round by removal or replacement of side window sashes. Up until this time, cars were built for either summer of winter operation, but not for both; a vehicle that could be operated year-round afforded the best buy for the street railway companies. During warm weather, the side window sashes were removed and stored in the carhouse. Built by Brownell and seating 46 passengers, No. 264 is the oldest double-truck (eight-wheel) streetcar in the collection. It was built for the newly-formed United Railways and Electric Company. Although rain protection and window storage presented problems, No. 264 was the forerunner of a type of "semi-convertible" streetcar in which the windows slid entirely up into pockets in the roof, making the window adjustment a quick and easy matter. The lone survivor of the first fleet of 100 such vehicles, No. 264 was retired from service in 1919.
Car 1164, Year 1902 Image Credit: Chris McNally
Built by the J.G. Brill Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the nation's largest streetcar manufacturer, this "open" type car was designed solely for warm weather use. It was part of a large purchase made by United in 1902. The company knew that open cars were great moneymakers in the summer, but that they were useless in the winter. In an effort to get the most for its money, the United bought 116 sets of trucks and 220 car bodies—110 open (like No. 1164) and 110 closed— and used the trucks on the open cars in the summer and the closed cars in the winter. Thus, the traction motors and the trucks were in use year-round, making it unnecessary for duplicate trucks to go unused during one season or the other. These cars could seat 60 persons in breezy comfort. No. 1164 and her sister vehicles were immensely popular on the run to famous Riverview Park, as well as on other routes. It is the only survivor of those Riverview cars once so familiar to Baltimoreans, and ended service in 1923.
Car 4533, Year 1904 Image Credit: Jim Walsh
Originally a sister to No. 2324, this vehicle was rebuilt by the United in its shops in the 1920s. The cost of having both motormen and conductors increased after World War I and it was decided to convert many cars to one-man operation. (All cars previously mentioned were designed for two man operation). No. 4533 was one of the 52 or so rebuilt as homemade versions of the widespread "Birney One-Man Safety Car." Among the alterations were the lengthening and enclosing of the platforms, which were provided with folding doors and steps and installation of the "dead man control" and other safety features that made it possible for the car to be operated by one man. Capable of seating 38 passengers, it is the earliest existing example of a one-man car in Baltimore and remained on active duty, after its passenger service ended in the 1930s, as maintenance vehicle 3550 until the end of streetcar service in 1963.
Car C-145, 1923 Image: Charlie Plantholt
This imposing car, built as a snow sweeper to keep the streetcar lines of Philadelphia open during inclement winter weather, was part of multiple orders for more than 520 pieces of surface passenger equipment ordered by the Philadelphia Transit Company from that city’s J.G. Brill Company in 1923. (The massive orders represented the largest demand for surface passenger equipment at one time for Brill, keeping the world’s largest builder of street railway vehicles busy for the balance of the year.) An elaborate system of revolving brushes and heavy-duty plows effectively cleared snow and ice off the tracks in all but the most severe storms. Car C-145 operated on Philadelphia streets until 1970. In 2005, it was acquired by the BSM from SEPTA. Since then, it has been put to good use keeping the museum’s right of way open during several notable snowstorms. At 74,000 pounds, No. C-145 is the heaviest vehicle in the museum’s collection.
Car 6119, Year 1930 Image Credit: Chris McNally
This car is an example of the first modern, one-man, all-steel streetcar to operate in Baltimore. Based on a design by Cleveland transit offical Peter Witt, it is one of 150 such vehicles purchased by the United in 1930. To help alleviate traffic congestion caused by stopped streetcars waiting for boarding passengers to pay their fares, Witt's innovative fare collection system called for a conductor to be stationed at the center doors, rather than at the entrance, as on conventional cars. In this way, passengers could board the car quickly, then pay their fares as they passed the conductor on their way to the back of the car, or sit up front and pay when they reached their destination. (Plush leather-covered "bucket" seats in the rear of the car, versus longitudinal bench-like seating up front, were supposed to encourage prompt payment). It was a good plan, but Depression-era economies soon spelled the demise of the conductor position. The motorman, now called an "operator" took over conductor duties with a farebox at the front of the car. No. 6119 was built by Brill and saw service on a variety of lines. (A number of Baltimore Petter Witts were also built by the Cincinnati Car Company of Cincinnati, Ohio). Considerably larger and more refined than earlier cars, No. 6119 could seat 52 passengers in well-lighted, ventilated comfort. Peter Witts had a reputation for speed and boasted a faster pickup than automobiles of the day. This type of car continued in operation until 1954.
Car 2168, Year 1948 Image Credit: Bill Monaghan
Recording almost four decades of service in the city of Philadelphia, PCC car 2168 was part of an order of 110 cars built by the St. Louis Car Company (of St. Louis, Missouri), in 1948 for the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC). (Philadelphia was one of the largest operators of such cars in the country, with a total of 570 serving the City of Brotherly Love at one time or another.) Seeing service throughout the system, the car was rebuilt by its new owner SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, the successor to PTC) in 1973. The car was again rebuilt in 1986 and continued in regular service until 1992 when it was assigned to weekend duties on the "Chestnut Hill Trolley" line until that operation's demise four years later. In 2003, the nonprofit group Friends of Philadelphia Trolleys (FPT) was formed to try to preserve and restore No. 2168. Two years later, in a partnership with FPT, the BSM took ownership of the car as FPT continued to raise funds for its restoration, which was completed several years later. Car 2168 is now painted in the orange, blue, and while "Gulf Oil" colors it wore in 1974, the only preserved Philadelphia PCC in that livery. An “all-electric” (as opposed to BSM PCC car 7407, a slightly older model which uses an air compressor to assist with braking and door operations), No. 2168 seats 51 passengers and weighs in at 37,990 pounds.
Car 7407, Year 1944 Image Credit: Bill Monaghan
Before the advent of light rail in the 1970s, PCC cars were the highest form of streetcar development achieved in North America. They evolved from a design by the Presidents' Conference Committee (hence the designation PCC), a group of street railway executives and car builders who first convened in the late 1920s to design a modern, fast, comfortable, and quiet standardized streetcar to win back riders from the ever-more-popular automobile. In 1936, Baltimore became the second city, after Brooklyn, New York, to place an order for the new cars, which eventually totaled 5,000 in use throughout most principal cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Baltimore Transit purchased a large fleet of PCCs (275 in all), the first order from the St. Louis Car Company of St. Louis, Missouri and the balance from the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company. One of the latter, No. 7407 was among the last group of streetcars purchased in 1944. It can comfortably seat 54 passengers, has rapid acceleration, high speed (at least 42 miles per hour), and a smooth ride. No. 7407 was the last streetcar to operate on the streets of Baltimore on November 3, 1963. It is worth noting that even though the last PCC cars were built for the North American market in 1952, a number still operate in revenue service in several United States cities.
Car 2187, Year 1948 Image Credit: Maryland Rail Heritage Library
The early history of PCC car 2187 closely parallels that of sister car 2168. Built by the St. Louis Car Company for PTC in 1948 (and included in the same order as car 2168), the car saw service throughout the Philadelphia system for the next 20 years. In 1968, No. 2187 was assigned to subway surface line service. As with car 2168, No. 2187 received the "Gulf Oil" paint scheme by SEPTA in the mid-1970s. Car 2187, also like No. 2168, was rebuilt in the 1980s under SEPTA's General Overhaul (GOH) program. It was then that SEPTA decided to convert car 2187 (along with car 2194) to overhead line cars for the subway surface portion of the system. Car 2187 served in that capacity until it was retired and subsequently acquired by the BSM in 2005. Painted in the museum's graphic identity colors of red, cream, and black, car 2187 today helps service BSM's overhead line requirements.
Overhead Line Truck 501, Year 1952 Image Credit: Maryland Rail Heritage Library
Built by the Autocar Company (founded in 1897 and the oldest surviving motor vehicle company in the Western Hemisphere), overhead line truck 501 served as an overhead line installation and repair truck, first for the Baltimore Transit Company, and then for its successor the Mass Transit Administration (MTA). Retired in the 1970s, it was acquired by the BSM later that decade, and continues to perform many of the same functions for the museum's line.
Bus 1962, Year 1962 Image Credit: Jim Walsh
No. 1962 was one of a fleet of 101 buses, seating 51 patrons, of the "fishbowl" designs that finally supplanted the last of the PCC streetcars on the No. 8 Towson-Catonsville and No. 15 Belair Road- Walbrook Junction lines in 1963. Built by GM and originally operated by Baltimore Transit and then the MTA, it was later used by the Baltimore City Police Department as a goodwill ambassador in its community endeavors before being acquired by the BSM in 1991.
VEHICLES currently awaiting restoration
Car 25, Ca. 1859 Image Credit: Maryland Rail Heritage Library
Probably built by the Baltimore firm of Poole and Hunt, this car is the oldest in the BSM collection and is representative of the oldest rail cars in Baltimore. Since it was pulled by horses, there are no controls or motors. It is a double-ended (operable from either end), single-truck (four-wheel) vehicle. It could carry 22 seated passengers. Originally owned by the Baltimore City Passenger Railway Company, the city’s first street railway company, it saw service until the late 1800s. It was acquired by the BSM from a local family in 1971, who had used it as a beach cabana and storage shed for the previous 68 years.
Car 129, Ca. 1880 Image Credit: Maryland Rail Heritage Library
The other horsecar in the Museum collection is still active at approximately 138 years of age. Operated and probably built by City Passenger, No. 129 has been used in July 4th and Christmas parades by the BSM. With a seating capacity of 16 people, No. 129 is believed to have been the last horsecar in use in downtown Baltimore, being last employed as a shuttle from Fayette and Eutaw Streets to Camden Station in 1898. During the 1930s, its flanged wheels were replaced with rubber ones for parade use, enabling it to serve in that capacity to the present day. No. 129 was acquired by the BSM in 1979 from the Carriage Museum in Stony Brook, New York, which acquired the car from the Baltimore Transit Company in 1961.
Car 1050, Year 1898 Image Credit: Henry Riecks, Maryland Rail Heritage Library
Built by Brownell for the Baltimore Consolidated Railway Company, this car is very similar to No. 417, except that it is 5.5 feet longer and was built from the beginning to operate by electric power. It could seat 28 patrons. The use of electricity provided a greater carrying capacity as evidenced by the larger number of passengers this vehicle could accommodate. The single truck on this car is a good example of those built by the Baltimore Car Wheel Company and sold under the trade name “Lord Baltimore Truck.” Four of the Museum’s streetcars are equipped with this kind of truck. Fourteen cars of this series of 73 were converted to one-man operation between 1916-1921, serving until 1927. Another 27 cars were demotorized and used as trailers until 1921.
Car 3828, Year 1902 Image Credit: R.E. Hampson, Maryland Rail Heritage Library
This car represents the winter (closed) version of the 1902 purchase made by the United from Brill. It could seat 36 passengers. The vital statistics are basically the same as for No. 1164, although No. 3828 is slightly shorter, but heavier due to its closed configuration. Built by Brill, this car was modernized about 1923 be enclosing both vestibules, and continued in service, mostly on secondary lines, until the early 1930s. Like the preceding cars, No. 264 and 1164, No. 3828 used “Maximum Traction” trucks, which has a motorized axle with large wheels and an idler axle with smaller diameter ones. This was the heaviest Baltimore streetcar to be equipped with hand brakes only.
Car 2324, Year 1904 Image Credit: Farrell Collection, Maryland Rail Heritage Library
Part of an order of 150 cars placed by United, this car, built by Brill, marked a return to single-truck construction. (Cars of this general design were still popular throughout North America early in the century.) Smaller than many of the existing cars of the day, this type of vehicle replaced aging cars on lightly traveled lines where there was no need for the larger-capacity double-truck streetcars. These cars seated 32 passengers and served on many lines throughout the system, but were gradually replaced by larger vehicles, ending service in the late 1920s.
Crane 3715, Year 1913 Image Credit: Maryland Rail Heritage Library
Virtually every street railway system had its fleet of work cars— custom-built vehicles or homemade adaptations of former passenger cars. They performed a litany of unglamorous yet essential tasks, including grinding, placing and removing rail; servicing overhead wires; clearing snow; weeding the right of way; and cleaning streets. One of the only two pieces of Baltimore work equiptment to be preserved (overhead line truck No. 501 is the other), No. 3715is an electric crane car. The crane portion was built by Brownhoist and the carbody by the United. No. 3715 was used for a variety of tasks, including track placement and extraction, and the setting of line poles. Lifting capacity was five tons. The crane was upgraded by its new owners, Baltimore Transit, in 1938. After its withdrawal from service in the mid 1950s, the crane was purchase in 1956 by the Branford Trolley Museum in Branford, Connecticut, where it performed many of the same activities while on duty in Baltimore. In 1998, it was acquired by the BSM, bringing it back home after more than 40 years.
Car 7059, Year 1920 Image Credit: George Nixon, Maryland Rail Heritage Library
This car, part of an order of 100 steel trailers built by Brill for the United, represented the last application of trailers, or unpowered cars, in Baltimore. Designed to seat 60 passengers and to be towed by specially-equipped semi-convertibles, the trailers carried a conductor who could signal the tow car’s motorman through special electrical contacts between the cars. Braking was controlled by the tow car. Originally introduced on the No. 26 Sparrows Point line, trailers saw service on a total of eight routes before being retired. Uncomfortable seating, coupled with towing problems due to inadequately powered semi-convertibles, rendered the trailers both unpopular and troublesome, and the last were withdrawn from service in 1931, after putting in barely a decade of work on the streets of Baltimore. No. 7059 survived on a number of guises, the last being, for many years, as Jack’s Corn Stand, at Reisterstown and McDonogh Roads in Baltimore County, before being acquired by the BSM in 1985.
Marking Baltimore’s first foray into trackless trolley operation (electric vehicles running via twin trolley poles and overhead current but using rubber tired instead of steel wheels and rails), No. 4802 was one of three such vehicles built by Brill for the United. No. 4802 and her sisters were to see service on only one route, on Liberty Road from Gywnn Oak Junction to Randallstown, starting in 1922. Real estate developers had hoped for a streetcar line to serve this growing suburb, but the United felt the expense not justified due to light ridership. Service by trackless trolley was the compromise. After ten years of operation, these vehicles, which seated 22 passengers, were supplanted by buses in July 1932, marking the first time internal combustion engines had replaced electricity as a means of power on the Baltimore system.
Baltimore Transit entered the “modern” trackless trolley age in 1938, with service inaugurated by vehicles built by Brill. Trackless trolley No. 2078, built by the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company of Worcester, Massachusetts, was purchased in 1940 when the No. 10 Roland Park-Highlandtown line was converted from streetcars. Seating 40 patrons , it ultimately saw service on all six of Baltimore’s trackless lines, although it was primarily used on the Nos. 10 and 27 routes. In contrast to most other cities operating both types of vehicles, Baltimore’s last trackless trolleys ceased operations before the end of streetcar service, ending their runs in 1959. Purchased by a private party when it was withdrawn from service that year, No. 2078 was donated to the BSM in 1976; it has since been partially restored for display purposes.
Bus 1096, Year 1945 Image Credit: Maryland Rail Heritage Library
The first bus of its class built by General Motors (its serial number is 0001), No. 1096 was one of a fleet of 105 buses ordered in 1944 by Baltimore Transit. Due to severe wartime production constraints, by June of the following year only No. 1096 and four other buses in the order had been delivered. Originally assigned to the “Q” Viaduct-Halethorpe line, this bus, seating 41, saw service into the 1960s. It was donated to the BSM by the Mass Transit Administration (MTA) in the early 1980s.
Car 26, Year 1949 Image Credit: Charlie Plantholt
PCC car 26 started its journey to the BSM from the Midwest seven decades ago. It was part of an order of 140 PCC cars built by the St. Louis Car Company and delivered between 1946 and 1949 for Twin Cities Rapid Transit (TCRT), which served the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area. (No. 26 bore the number 415 when in service for TCRT.) By 1953, with TCRT having converted most of its streetcar routes to bus operation, the entire fleet was sold to several other systems, including Shaker Heights (Cleveland), Mexico City, and Newark, New Jersey. Car 415 was part of an order of 30 destined for Public Service Coordinated Transport (PSCT) in Newark. Starting in 1954 and lasting for the next 47 years, car 26, as it was renumbered, ran in Newark’s famous City Subway system, first for PSCT, then for New Jersey Transit. It was acquired by the BSM in 2014 and is currently undergoing restoration. All-electric in operation, No. 26 seats 55 passengers and weighs approximately 38,000 pounds.