Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Scranton #505 and the Rockhill Trolley Museum

This past Thursday, November 15, the badly deteriorated carbody structure and trucks from former Scranton Transit Company #505 departed Rockhill Trolley Museum for the Electric City Trolley Museum.  Preparing the car for shipment was a joint effort involving volunteers from three museums (as detailed in a previous post).  Additional volunteer efforts coordinated the loading and the multiple changes to the hauling schedule to ensure the car was able to depart for its new home.

The story of how, and why, Railways To Yesterday came to own the #505 for approximately 40 years is a story that probably has not fully been told.  The photos organized chronologically below tell the story.  All photos are from the collection of RTY, Inc. unless otherwise noted.

Nine year old #505 poses at the end of the Green Ridge Suburban line in 1938.
#505 leaves Nay Aug Park in June 1953
After the end of rail service in Scranton in December 1954, #505 and sweeper #107 were purchased by Dr. Stanley Groman for his Rail City Museum in Sandy Pond, New York.  Here the car sits along US-11 near Nicholson, PA as the flatbed trailer awaits a new axle. 

Another view of #505.  Although looking decent from a distance, years of hard use lurk beneath that paint job.  Like many cars from cities in the Northeast, years of running on salt covered streets leads to extensive corrosion.  If you look closely at the rear truck, you will also see one of the lower frame members is bent. 
Less than 5 years after it left Scranton, the car was looking pretty rough.  Here the car sits outdoors at Rail City in 1959.  Thankfully, sweeper #107 was kept indoors.
By the mid 1960s, #505 (and sweeper #107) had moved to the Magee Museum near Bloomsburg.  It was intended to be the first car to operate at Magee, but priority shifted to the ex-Rio de Janeiro open cars when they arrived.  The deterioration (note especially the drooping platform) was very evident by 1965.  The car was substantially disassembled at Magee but work did not progress very far.
Close up view of the platform condition in 1965.
This is how the interior looked prior to disassembly in 1965.  Note the gaping hole in the floor.
Hurricane Agnes flooded the Magee Museum out of existence in 1972 and the trolley collection was broken up.  Railways To Yesterday acquired sweeper #107 and the remains of #505.  Some parts were lost in the flood and aftermath (including one of the car's controllers, which the museum later acquired a replacement for).  However, the #505 was never acquired with the intention of restoring it.  It was purchased to serve as a possible source of trucks and other parts for the then "newly" acquired carbody of York Railways #163, which was in substantially better structural condition.  Enroute from Bloomsburg to Rockhill Furnace, the truck hauling the carbody got stuck on a highway on-ramp, and after freeing the trailer, the carbody was hauled to a salvage yard in Burnham, PA where it would rest until 1999.
The carbody was removed from the salvage yard in 1999 and hauled to the museum site for storage.  At the same time, parts formerly stored in a boxcar were moved into Carbarn 2. One end of the car was substantially removed before the car left Magee in 1972 and the other had collapsed to the point where it had to be removed before the car could be hauled to Rockhill Furnace.
Lower structural deterioration from years of salt damage, subsequent flood damage, and exposure to the elements. 
In 2003, the carbody, trucks, and components from #505 were traded to the Electric City Trolley Museum Association for what are believed to be the original Curtis trucks from SEPTA Tower Car D-39, which the museum acquired the same year.  In coordination with a series of other moves, and after both ECTMA had time to establish a storage location, and Rockhill Trolley Museum returned the trucks to the carbody, #505 finally departed Rockhill Furnace for a return trip to its home city.  Here Chuck Kumpas records #505 loaded on one more truck trailer.
It is only appropriate that #505 go to its original home for a potential future restoration (or re-creation).  It's the best hope this car has had in more than 4 decades. 
Northeastern Pennsylvania is still represented in the Rockhill Trolley Museum collection by Scranton sweeper #107, which is operable and still used when conditions warrant to sweep snow from the museum's demonstration electric railway.  This vintage view shows the car being unloaded at Magee in 1966.  For more recent scenes of this former Scranton car, including scenes of it sweeping, visit http://www.rockhilltrolley.org/roster/107


No comments:

Post a Comment