A Trolley in Shippensburg

history of Shippensburg

I always like to learn more about the history of my property and the area of town I live in.  I discovered an interesting story about the comer near where I live.

I knew there was a trolley ran thru Shippensburg,  and that there was a trolley stop at that corner.  Recent digging around in information at Shippensburg Historical Society, http://www.shippensburghistory.org/ gave me a lot of info.

There was a wonderful historian named Bill Burkhart who gave us so much written history here.  Burkhart died maybe 10 years ago so I can only credit him with his info about the trolley now, and know  he would want it shared again.  He wrote several local history books and you can learn more about him by doing an online search: Bill Burkhart, Shippensburg, Pa.  His books are still for sale several places online.

Burkhart gave Shippensburg Historical Society many of his handwritten notes that he made as  he was doing research, and we have them in binders at the Stewart House, home of the Historical Society.  Knowing the way he loved our history, and how much of it he preserved for the future,  it’s amazing to sit down and look at page after page of his notes, handwritten with a pencil on notebook paper.

The Chambersburg-Shippensburg Trolley started running to Shippensburg in June 14, 1914.  Its last run  was May 14, 1928, when it went out of business.  It ran from here to Red Bridge Park in Chambersburg, which must have had a lot of things going on at that time.  That was a main passenger stop. Then it went into Chambersburg and on to Greencastle.  At Red Bridge it met the line of the Chambersburg, Greencastle and Waynesboro Street Railway Company.

Burkhart’s 1920 picture above shows the trolley at the end of the Shippensburg line, at the corner of King and Morris Streets.

His notes tell us that the driver got out at the end of the line and swung  the electric pole around so the car could go the opposite direction, and transferred a clutch lever from one side of the car to the other.  Once he got over the Reading Railroad bridge headed back to Greenvillage,  the car went 20-30 mph on the flat road, Route 11.

The trolley was good transportation for many people,  and at the height of the picnic season in 1914 the trolley’s biggest day was 985 round trip fares. Sometimes it also hauled freight.  Burkhart says that the first freight ever hauled was 10 baskets of peaches  from an orchard in Shippensburg, and they were shipped to Chambersburg.

After WWI, more people were getting cars, and the trolley business dropped off.  It was a good thing for its time, and served an important purpose.

I am amazed at the quality of Burkhart’s 1920 picture.  This was a 3 x 5″ photo, and  I took a picture of the picture with my digital camera, then used a cropping tool to get the image above.  Wow, almost 100 years old, and you can see so much detail. Below is the original picture, showing the intersection as Burkhart saw it in 1920.  That man gave us such a wealth of recorded  history, between his photos and his notes.

history of Shippennsburg

8 responses to “A Trolley in Shippensburg

  1. What a wonderful and interesting post! Thank you for sharing all of this information. I love history and I especially love old photos. The ones you posted are very good.

    • Thanks Jackie. I love our local history and always want to learn more about it. Several local historians have given us such good looks into our own past.

      • I think it’s great that you have such a wealth of knowledge to draw from. You’re inspiring me to go find the historical society in my neck of the woods so I can learn more about my neighborhood. I know a little but I’d like to learn more.

      • The area I’m living in is full of history so I have a good feeling that it will be very interesting. It’s too hard for me to get around in winter so my adventures will have to wait till spring. Thanks so much for the inspiration! 😀

    • Thanks Herman. This area was the frontier when people were coming from the big cities east of us to start a new life. I love learning about our history and will be writing more. It’s great that we have had a historical society for so many years, and had people writing down so much to look back on.

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