York #163

Previous Owner: 
York Railways Co.
York, PA
Year Built: 
Rockhill Trolley Museum Photo

Above: Looking great, trolley #163 has been operating at the museum longer than it did during its days in York.

The most ambitious restoration project our museum has undertaken to date is York Railways #163. Built in 1924 by the J.G. Brill car Co. in Philadelphia, 163 is a rare curved-side car. Another trolley builder, the Cincinnati Car Co., had a patent on the curved-side car. Brill built five curved-side cars for York Railways and in doing so infringed on the patent. Cincinnati sued Brill. Consequently, these five curved-side cars were the only ones built by Brill. York #163 is the only preserved and operable trolley from the York Railways system.

Rockhill Trolley Museum Photo

Above: A builder’s photo of York #162, a sister to York #163 in 1924. When compared to other photos of # 163 it shows the differences that were made these cars were modernized by the York Railways.

Rockhill Trolley Museum Photo

Above: York #163 is operating in the York square during August, 1938, just a few months before the abandonment of service on February 4, 1939.

York Railways stopped all streetcar operations on February 4, 1939, and car #163 was sold to be used as a summer home along Conewago creek north of York. The body of car #163 survived there until 1972, when Hurricane Agnes completely flooded the car, knocking it off its foundation. The owners no longer wanted the car and donated the body to the museum. Over 17 years of volunteer labor went into restoring car #163 to operation! Many parts for the car were discarded when car #163 became a summer home, so a world-wide search was needed to locate the correct parts to completely restore the car. The trucks (wheels and motors) for the car came from Japan. Seats for the car came from an elevated car in Chicago that was being scrapped. Cane covering for the seats, authentic transit weave rattan, was imported from China. Parts from many other long-since-scrapped cars helped to complete car #163's return to glory.

Above: Trolley #163 as it was discovered as after Hurricane Agnes had flooded the entire car. Museum volunteers brought the car to the museum and restored it to operation. (Picture temporarily missing.)

Rockhill Trolley Museum Photo

Text by Joel Salomon, (c) 2002

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