1894 trolley car returns to Jersey Shore after more than 90 years

JERSEY SHORE – A long forgotten transportation relic is returning to its home in Jersey Shore after the better part of a century. 

According to Tina Cooney, president of the Jersey Shore Historical Society, it was Skip Cochran of River Valley Transit,  who approached her in April during a Historical Organizations of Lycoming County (HOLC) meeting. 

“He said to me that the River Valley Transit had a trolley car that was in service in Jersey Shore and he asked if we would like to have it,” Cooney said.  She explained that the trolley had been out of service since the 1930s, had spent a decade as a hunting cabin in Pine Creek, and it was eventually transported to Williamsport. 

Cochran, in a phone interview, said that the Williamsport River Valley Transit (RVT) had received it before the mid-1980s. As to when it officially arrived, he said that he has researched the car’s history but some information still remains lost to history. 

However, he said he is happy that giving the trolley car to the Jersey Shore would give the streetcar a new purpose. 

“I knew in my heart that this could be repurposed and salvaged instead of it being trashed or junked,” said Cochran, who serves as the marketing director for the RVT. He added that Williamsport Mayor Derek Slaughter had been interested in donating the trolley car to the Jersey Shore Historical Society.  “Mayor Slaughter also encouraged that the car be repurposed and the Williamsport City Council approved of the donation earlier in 2021.”  

Cooney said the Jersey Shore City Council approved of the donation back in April of this year. This past Monday, the Jersey Shore governing body approved the trolley to be placed on the north side of Locust Street on the old canal bed. 

Cooney said by the end of the year, she expects the trolley to be transported from Williamsport to Jersey Shore. While the efforts are still being discussed, she said she is optimistic, pointing to the recent successful transportation of an A-6 Intruder the 10 miles from the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville to the Lycoming County Veterans Memorial Park on Fourth Street in Williamsport. 

However, Cooney said the ultimate goal is to have the car refurbished and a structure built around it to protect it from the elements. It was estimated that it would cost $50,000 to $150,000.

Cochran said that he remains positive for the Jersey Shore Historical Society thanks to Cooney’s dedication.

“Tina’s enthusiasm blows my mind and she was so instrumental in finding it a home,” Cochran said. “This type of thing gives people a good feeling and it is good for nostalgia reasons.” 

Cooney said that Jersey Shore is very fortunate to receive this donation. Originally, Jersey Shore had two trolley routes. 

“One went from South Main Street to Avis and the other went down Alleghany Street to Oak Street,” Cooney said. “They did the same circuit several times a day.” 

Car 14, as it is called, was built in 1894 and used in the Philadelphia Rapid Transit System, it was then sold to Williamsport and in 1912 it was sold to Jersey Shore.  

“So this is the second time this car has come from Williamsport to Jersey Shore,” Cooney said with a laugh.  Ultimately, with the advent of the automobile, buses and repaving in Jersey Shore along with the shifting economy, the private trolley company closed shop in 1930. 

Cooney said that trolleys had their problems back in the day.  

“They had quite a few accidents,” she said. “There would be instances of kids getting hit by trolley cars, or scaring horses or wagon wheels of buggies getting caught in the trolley tracks.”  

In 1907, the Gazette and Bulletin (now the Sun Gazette) said in a Jan. 18th article that a snow storm “knocked trolley schedules awry.” 

“The snow fall was the heaviest of the season demoralizing to some extent the local trolley traffic cars,” the reporter said. “Cars on all trolley lines were not running on schedule until 12 o’clock noon and pedestrians had a hard time getting around. The trolley people found it necessary to use the snow plows in the early morning in order to get cars running in any kind of shape.”  

Another example of trolley disasters was found in an article in the Dec. 9, 1912, edition of the Gazette & Bulletin that detailed the “West Bound Pennsylvania Evening Passenger Train Struck a Crowded Trolley Car” on Grier Street just after 7 p.m.  

“(The) Conductor saw the approaching train and warned his passengers to jump for their lives,” the article said. It further stated that 14 people were injured and “the trolley car was hopelessly wrecked…and that several people were not killed seems little short of a miracle.”

Cooney said the residents of Jersey Shore are excited about being able to have something connecting a vehicle from a century ago to now.  

“The Jersey Shore borough council is really excited. Borough Manager Cody Hoover and the buildings and grounds committee worked to find a location for the trolley. They are excited to connect it with our heritage,” Cooney said.  

Cooney said that donations are being accepted, and she expects the Historical Society will do fundraisers in the future. In the meantime, checks can be made to the Jersey Shore Historical Society and sent to 200 S. Main St., Jersey Shore, marked “Car No. 14.”  

To find out more about the Jersey Shore Historical Society, visit them at Facebook.com/JSHISTORY1. 

Author

  • Writer Don Everett Smith Jr. is a recent transplant to Lycoming County with his wife, Laura, and their cats and tortoise. Don has written professionally for over 25 years with several articles, short stories and books to his credit. He is also a known horror and true-crime writer with a specific interest in history.

Don Everett Smith Jr.

Writer Don Everett Smith Jr. is a recent transplant to Lycoming County with his wife, Laura, and their cats and tortoise. Don has written professionally for over 25 years with several articles, short stories and books to his credit. He is also a known horror and true-crime writer with a specific interest in history.