Historical groups team up for trolley rides, exhibits
More than 60 years later, the memories are still alive.
June Cressman took the trolley from Perkasie to Souderton with a paper bag carrying money to repay a bank loan her parents took out for their business. Nancy Hunsicker visited her grandfather, Ennis Moyer, at his office in the Perkasie trolley station where he was the agent. Jim Pritchard rode on the trolley the day before Thanksgiving with a man dressed as Santa Claus coming to Perkasie to kick off the Christmas holiday. Mark Frederick crawled across the bridge over Ninth Street and the Three Mile Run trestle when he walked home after missing the trolley on a snowy night.
“After World War II, automobiles and trucks began taking business away from the trolleys. On September 6, 1951, Lehigh Valley Transit announced that the trolley would be replaced by autobus. On September 7 the final passenger car returned from Norristown, and the Liberty Bell Route passed into history. Removal of the tracks began almost immediately,” according to a portion of historical information prepared for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of and unveiling of the recent restoration project at the former Perkasie trolley station at 513 W. Walnut St.
The same booklet includes the memories shared above.
From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10 and 11, there will be an open house at the trolley station at the same time Sellersville Museum hosts its annual “Model Trains and Trolleys” exhibit. On Sunday, Nov. 11, there will be trolley rides between the two. The weekend also includes a presentation by Doug Peters, author of “Lehigh Valley Transit in Color,” at the Perkasie trolley station. Showtimes are at 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10.
The arrival of the trolleys at the beginning of the 20th century brought a big improvement to transportation, trolley historian Andy Maginnis said during an Oct. 23 presentation in the final Speaker Series program of this year at Sellersville Museum, 120 E. Church St., Sellersville.
“You gotta remember, at the time, all the roads were dirt,” Maginnis said. “It was a long, drawn out trip to take the Bethlehem Pike to Allentown or Bethlehem.”
Along with carrying passengers, the trolleys also transported freight, he said. In the days before electric refrigerators, harvested ice was carried on the trolleys. In later years, Sears shipped appliances such as washers and radios.
Perhaps the most unusual delivery by the local trolley, however, he said, was one in 1912 in which a bull was the passenger.
“I guess it all went smoothly,” Maginnis said, “but I sure wouldn’t want to be the car cleaner.”
The Nov. 11 trolley tours will leave from Perkasie at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. and from Sellersville at 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m., Rick Doll, a Perkasie Historical Society member, said.
“It’s going to follow the route, as much as possible, that the trolley took,” Doll said.
Along the way, highlights associated with the trolley system, including the trolley tunnel, bridges, overpasses and stops, will be noted, he said.
The view at Menlo Park apparently won’t be exactly the way it once was, though, judging from the July 6, 1905 Central News, which reported, “The Trolley Company will arrest those persons who bathe nude in the stream along their tracks ... especially at Menlo.”
The restoration work at the trolley station, which Perkasie Historical Society uses as a museum, isn’t quite finished yet, but “should be fairly complete” for the open house, Doll said. Brandon Lederach, a Pennridge High School 10th-grader and member of Boy Scout Troop 1 in Sellersville, led the restoration for his Eagle Scout project. Perkasie Historical Society members, including Doll, Matt Lynch and Bob Dunlap, also helped with the work as did other Troop 1 members and Lederach’s father, Donald.
“It was a dirty and dusty job taking the interior down to its original brick walls. The improvements include new window moldings, ceiling and wall painting, wainscoting, interior doors, freight room restoration, drywall, lighting and an entire new electrical system, along with wiring for a security and fire protection system,” Charles Baum, president of the Perkasie Historical Society, wrote in the open house booklet. “Original paint colors were matched to restore the look of the trolley station to its heyday in the first half of the 1900s.”
Peters’ Nov. 10 presentation will include additional information and not be a repeat of the one he gave earlier this month at the Perkasie Historical Society’s monthly dinner meeting, Louise Doll, Rick’s wife, said. It will also not be a duplicate of the one by Maginnis, she said.
“They coordinated that it isn’t a repeat presentation,” Doll said.
Tickets for Peters’ Nov. 10 presentation are $5 each and are available by emailing [email protected]cast.net or calling 215-453-1062. The trolley rides and admission to the Perkasie trolley station open house and Sellersville Museum exhibit are free, but donations are accepted.
The museum’s exhibit has become an annual event, Martha Steeley, chairwoman of the Sellersville Historical and Achievement Authority, said.
“This’ll be our fifth year we’re doing it,” Steeley said. “It’s always a lot of fun and it’s always a kidfriendly exhibit.”
This year’s exhibit will include James Maurer operating model trolleys depicting the Lehigh Valley Transit and Philadelphia cars; Mark Frederick displaying model trolleys; Dave Strouse operating N Gauge model trains; Chuck Perrucci displaying HO model trains; Lex Nugent showing Pittman Trolley models; and father and son Kevin and Brendon Cadwallader displaying vintage model trains.
The trolley for the trip between Perkasie and Sellersville will be from Bucks County Trolley Company, Steeley said.
“It’s the same one we use every year for Winterfest,” Steeley said.
The collaboration between Sellersville Museum and Perkasie Historical Society for the weekend is a natural fit, Steeley and the Dolls said.
“There’s a group of us that volunteer at both organizations,” Louise Doll said.
“The communities are both so close and the history is so intertwined, you can’t separate them,” Rick Doll said.
Marty Steeley of the Sellersville Historical and Achievement Authority addresses the crowd at the Sellersville Museum’s Speaker Series program Oct. 23..
Andy McGinnis, longtime trolley historian, shares his vintage maps and slides.
A trolley runs over Reliance Road in one of the hundreds of slides shown at the Sellersville Museum Speaker Series.