Trolley Freight Motor Number 07

Curator's Choice tells the stories behind prized objects and artifacts from the collections of historical organizations and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania.

In an unusual swap, the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, south of Pittsburgh, recently added a rare piece of rolling stock to its extensive holdings. The museum acquired Trolley Freight Motor Number 07 from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Philadelphia, in exchange for a snow sweeper originally used by the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company (and last operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County). The museum wanted Number 07, an excellent example of an early twentieth century inter­urban trolley freight motor, to augment its collections, while SEPTA needed the sweeper to remove snow on its light rail lines.

Built in 1911 by the Jewett Car Company of Newark, Ohio, for the Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company, Number 07 (photographed shortly after its delivery to the traction company) was used to carry milk, produce, and freight between Philadelphia and its western suburbs. The Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company provided less-than-carload freight between the city and the Chester County seat at rates far below those of the Adams Express Company on the competing Pennsylvania Railroad. Measuring fifty feet in length and more than twelve feet in height, the wooden car is typical of the interurban freight motors of the era and may possibly be the only example manufactured by the Jewett Car Company in existence. It was used in trolley freight service until 1922, when it was converted to an overhead line maintenance car. The trolley was retired in 1992 – after having provided eighty years of service!

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum will restore Freight Motor Number 07 – which remains essentially intact – to its original maroon color scheme with lettering in gold.

Dedicated to chronicling the story of the Keystone State’s trolley era through the preservation, interpretation, and use of its diverse collections, the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum offers visitors rides on restored trolleys, an opportunity to examine cars in its operating fleet, and a firsthand look at streetcars being restored in its car shop. Exhibits feature artifacts, photographs, drawings, memorabilia, and ephemera.

For more information, write: Pennsyl­vania Trolley Museum, 1 Museum Road, Washington, PA 15301; telephone (412) 228-9256; or visit the Pennsyl­vania Trolley Museum website. Individuals with disabilities who need special assistance or accommodation should telephone the museum in advance to discuss their needs.