‘Streetcar Stories’ shared at trolley museum

August 30, 2013
Image description
Emily Petsko / Observer-Reporter
Scott Becker, left, executive director of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, and Art Ellis, a museum volunteer, stand in the doorway of the last streetcar that ran in Washington. The car was on display Friday during the grand opening of the “Streetcar Stories of Washington County” exhibit. Order a Print
Image description
Emily Petsko/Observer-Reporter
Ed Schleicher, front, and John Petrarulo, both of Carnegie, take a trolley ride during Pennsylvania Trolley Museum’s grand opening of its “Streetcar Stories of Washington County” exhibit Friday. Order a Print
Image description
Emily Petsko / Observer-Reporter
Jack Simich, a volunteer at Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, conducts a trolley tour for visitors Friday during the grand opening of the “Streetcar Stories of Washington County” exhibit. Order a Print

Ed Schleicher and John Petrarulo, both retired priests who live in Carnegie, remember riding the trolley to and from Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh every weekday.

“I don’t miss high school, but I miss riding the trolley in Pittsburgh,” Schleicher said while taking a trolley ride Friday at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.

The friends recalled seeing passengers cheat the system by attaching a string to their tickets so they could be yanked and reused, but Schleicher said they were “good Catholic boys” who did not engage in such mischief.

While the two men laughed and shared their own fond memories of riding trolleys, they also came to read others’ tales during the opening of the trolley museum’s “Streetcar Stories of Washington County” exhibit. The museum’s first oral history exhibit features interviews from 12 local people who grew up riding trolleys, as well as two short documentaries about the Mon Valley and Canonsburg-Washington streetcar lines.

The exhibit marks the 50th anniversary of the museum and 60th anniversary of the end of the interurban lines to Washington County. The Washington interurban line, which connected Washington and Canonsburg, was built in 1903. The pale yellow and crimson 1711 was the last streetcar to run in Washington, and it was displayed outside the museum for visitors to explore.

Some of the stories shared in the exhibit were those of “streetcar students” who took the trolley to school, married couples who met on their commute and miscellaneous anecdotes. One panel included a happy tale of a puppy that was rescued from the trolley tracks.

“Some of their stories were very moving,” said Scott Becker, executive director of the museum.

Lynne Thompson, the museum’s educator and volunteer coordinator, said the exhibit is a nod to a past era.

“It gives you really the flavor of what the trolley car era was like, that first half of the 20th century,” Thompson said. “This mass transportation really brought people together.”

The documentaries shown were created by students at the Douglas Education Center in Monessen. Becker said the exhibit will remain open for a couple years, but the documentaries can be shown at historical societies or similar groups.

Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for senior citizens 62 and older and $6 for 3- to 15-year-olds. Children younger than 3 are free.

For more information, call 724-228-9256 or visit http://www.patrolley.org.

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

View More from this Author



blog comments powered by Disqus