The first car acquired by Rockhill Trolley Museum was car #311. This car is a double truck “Birney Safety Car” built by Wason Manufacturing Co. of Springfield, MA.
Car No. 311
|Previous Owner: |
Johnstown Traction Co.
|Car Type: |
City & Suburban Car
double-truck Birney 'safety car'
It was part of an order of cars for the city of Bangor, Maine, where it operated at number 14. It was sold to the Johnstown Traction Co. and went there in 1941. It served that city well, running until the end of service in 1960. Car #311 was the last Birney type car to be operated in any United States city on a regular schedule. Car 311 was chartered repeatedly by trolley fans in the 1950’s, as it was a favorite car of many.
This car was a lighter car than many and, most important to the transit companies, cut costs since it needed only one crew person to operate. Safety equipment brought the car to a stop should the operator become disabled. This development allowed many marginal transit systems to continue operating after they would otherwise have failed.
Following the last day of service in Johnstown on June 11, 1960, trolley #311 was purchased by our newly formed trolley museum. After much restoration, #311 became the first trolley to operate over the new museum line and also the first trolley to operate on any museum line in Pennsylvania. With periodic maintenance, car #311 has operated continuously at the museum for over 40 years, more years than it operated in Johnstown!
Text by Joel Salomon, (c) 2002