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New Castle Electric Street Railway Company - New Castle PA

Electric-driven streetcars (or trolleys) had their origins in the 1830’s when horsecars, horse-drawn vehicles pulled along on rails embedded in the streets, went into service in many American cities. It was a slow but steady form of mass transportation. Cable cars, horseless cars powered by an underground cable system, began to be seen in some cities in the latter half of the 1860’s. Cable car systems were expensive to maintain and their existence was generally short-lived. In the early 1880’s, due to various technological advances involving electricity, experimental work was underway to develop electric-driven streetcars. One of the first fully electric-powered streetcar systems, featuring cars that ran on rails while powered by overhead electric lines, went into operation in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in November 1886. By the middle of the 1890’s the preferred form of mass transportation in large cities was the electric-driven streetcars.

Soon after the Scranton system became operational numerous groups began discussion of building a streetcar system in New Castle, Pennsylvania, but things progressed slowly. The New Castle News of Wednesday, May 1, 1889, had a short mention that read, “The talk of a street car line is again being revived and it is now probable that New Castle will have one.” Finally, in late 1889, a group led by local wealthy businessmen Thomas W. Phillips and William M. Brown officially organized a venture to establish a streetcar system in New Castle. They established what became known as the New Castle Electric Street Railway Company.

Actual progress was slow and the New Castle News of Wednesday, March 19, 1890, provided some hope by reporting, “The street car scheme is not dead although but little has been said about it for some time. A street car line for New Castle is nearer an assured fact now than it was at any time when there was a great blowing. All who own property in the city, particularly those who own property on the outskirts, should put their shoulders to the wheel and help the movement along.”

The fledgling streetcar company soon took a major step as the New Castle News of Wednesday, March 26, 1890, reported, “….the Electric Light Company has purchased part of the three corner lot between South Mill street and the P. & L. E. R. R., and will erect their plant on it. The other part of the lot has been purchased by the New Castle Electric Street Railway Company. A gentleman connected with the Company said to a News reporter; “Yes, we bought the ground adjoining that bought by the Electric Light Company. The latter Company has agreed to furnish power for our line at reasonable rates, and for that reason we bought next to them.”

The New Castle News of Wednesday, April 2, 1890, reported, “The stockholders of the New Castle Street Railway met Monday and elected officers. John T. Phillips presided, and the following officers were chosen: President, T. W. Phillips; Vice President, Wm. M. Brown; Directors, T. W. Phillips, Wm. M. Brown, O. H. P. Brown, S. S. Hamilton and C. J. Kirk. The directors met immediately after the election and re-elected S. S. Hamilton Secretary and Treasurer, and Wm. M. Brown, General Manager. The by-laws that are to govern the company were adopted, and it was decided to go ahead and build the road as soon as possible.”

The first streetcar line in New Castle, with four total cars in operation, opened sometime in July 1890. The basic system ran along East Washington Street from the Diamond to the Pittsburg Street Bridge (East Washington Street Bridge), and then down South Mill Street to Long Avenue.

The emergence of electric streetcars across the country also opened up a new business – the manufacturing of streetcars. One of the first New Castle firms to start building streetcars was the Vogan Brothers, a blacksmith and wagon making firm managed by two brothers since 1885. The New Castle News of Wednesday, February 11, 1891, reported, “The first street car built in this city makes a new era in New Castle’s mechanical industries. The car built by Vogan Brothers for the New Castle Street Railway Company, having been completed, was removed to the car house Wednesday. It was transported on rollers between the hours of 7:30 p. m. and 6 a. m. The sudden freezing of the ground facilitated the work. The car is very handsome and strongly built. The painting which is very artistic was done by Samuel Quest and the wood work by Drescher & Son. The car cost $1,000. It will be mounted on the trucks immediately and will be in operation Saturday.”

The streetcar system was slowly expanded in the coming years. One of the first extensions was a bit of short track running across the Pittsburg Street Bridge down to the train station known as the Union Depot. The New Castle News of Wednesday, September 16, 1891, revealed, “A street car track will be laid at once on Pittsburg street. This bit of road is very short, but promises however to lie a part of an extensive line that will be built before long. While the brick pavement is being laid on Pittsburg street rails for street cars will also be placed, extending from the Neshannock bridge to the Union depot. This is done now to prevent the necessity of tearing up the pavement later to permit the laying of the track.” This line was soon extended further south and became known as the East New Castle Street Railway Company.

Meanwhile, in 1891, a Civil War veteran named Levi C. Brinton purchased the scenic area known as Big Run Falls to the south of the city. He began to build it up as a resort and picnic grounds and renamed it was Brinton Park. To get patrons to the rural park he decided to build a streetcar line up Hamilton Street and into New Castle. The Brinton Park Street Railway Company was given approval by city officials in May 1893 to begin construction of the line. Work was stopped the coming fall as a dispute arose with the city engineer over the method of laying the track. Work resumed a month later, but financial issues and legal battles halted the work again in the summer of 1894. The streetcar line and related property was seized by the county sheriff in late 1894. The New Castle Electric Street Railway Company made several attempts to acquire the line, but a back and forth legal battle ensued over the next few years. All the while the Brinton Park streetcar line sat uncompleted.

Trolleys running down the streets posed a new danger to the citizens of New Castle. This article in the New Castle News of Wednesday, August 22, 1894, reveals the danger: “Bessie Seamans, a little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Seamens of Long avenue, was struck by an electric car Thursday evening and received injuries which soon after resulted fatally. The little girl, who was only two years and two months old, was playing by the road side near her home with another child about her own age. Motorman Walter Tyler saw the children when some distance away, but they were no closer to the track than children usually get in their play. The car was approaching them at full speed and, when almost opposite where they were standing, the little girl, all unconscious of her danger, ran out immediately in front of the car. Motorman Tyler reversed the car instantly, but it was too late and the little one was struck and pushed a short distance under the car. When the car came to a standstill she was picked up, bruised and bleeding but still breathing. She was carried home and a physician summoned, who found that the child’s skull was fractured and that she had received other serious injuries which soon resulted in her death. Bessie was a bright little girl and her sudden death is a sad bereavement to her parents, who have the sympathy of all.”

Citizens throughout the city were anxious for the streetcar line to be extended into their own neighborhoods. The New Castle News of Thursday, October 17, 1895, mentioned, “New Castle and Mahoningtown should be connected by streetcars, and the people who live down there are waiting anxiously for such a time when the road will be in operation. It will help the growth of New Castle in that direction. Speed the day when the streetcar service of New Castle will extend to Mahoningtown and Ellwood City.”

In early May 1896 a group of prominent businessmen from Pittsburgh acquired the New Castle Electric Street Railway Company. The New Castle News of Wednesday, May 13, 1896, ran a front page story that read, “A most important deal in the interests of the growing city of New Castle has just been consummated, and one which will undoubtedly result in the extension of the street car system of the city. A syndicate, of which State Senator Richard R. Quay, of Beaver, and State Senator Arthur Kennedy of Pittsburg, are at the head, have just purchased the William M. Brown street car lines in New Castle. The corporation of which William M. Brown is at the head, is known as the New Castle Electric Street Railway company, and their lines extend in the east from the Union station on Pittsburg street to Penn avenue in West New Castle, and from Washington street to the bridge across the Shenango on Gardner avenue in South New Castle. The company has three and one-half miles of track amply equipped with cars.”

The syndicate needed a source of power for the streetcar system, so they purchased the plant of the New Castle Electric Light Company. In July the company also acquired over 106 acres of farmland outside the city limits along Highland Avenue, with plans to develop the property into a residential area. This was obviously in preparation of extending the streetcar line up through the North Hill area.

In early August 1896 the city council was presented with an extensive plan to greatly expand the streetcar system. It called for double-tracking much of the existing line, running a new track from the Pittsburg Street/Countyline Street intersection and along Croton Avenue, adding a new line up North Mill Street-Highland Avenue, running a new line from the Diamond and up North Beaver Street and west on Grant Street to the Shenango River, and running a new line from Long Avenue down to Mahoningtown. The ambitious plan was quickly approved by the city.

Work immediately got underway, amid property acquisitions and legal disputes, as hundreds of contractors and laborers began working on the project. They began tearing up streets, laying new track, anchoring electric poles, and running electric wires. The line extending from Mahoningtown to Highland Avenue was formed into a separate entity and known as the New Castle & Mahoningtown Street Railway Company. The Mahoningtown route, built off of the terminus of Long Avenue, extended down Moravia Avenue, crossed the Gardner Avenue Bridge, ran along Moravia Avenue-Cedar Street-Liberty Street to near the public square. The Highland Avenue route was built up North Mill Street-Highland Avenue and through the North Hill neighborhood to near the border with Neshannock Township.

In August 1896 the New Castle Street Railway Company was successful in its courtroom battle to acquire the long-stalled Brinton Park Street Railway Company, which gave them control over all the streetcar lines in New Castle. The company also began a string of acquisitions of smaller electric and gas companies. The various entities of the streetcar system in New Castle would soon be consolidated (actually leased) under the moniker of the New Castle Traction Company.

The streetcar company attempted to purchase the 50-acre Brinton Park property from Levi Brinton, but he wanted much more compensation than they offered. They continued to negotiate but things often got nasty. When Brinton witnessed a team of eighty workers tearing up the old streetcar track on his property, he thought about threatening them with a shotgun but instead sought the assistance of the Sheriff. It was an odd legal situation as the streetcar company owned the actual track, but Brinton owned the stretch of property on which the rails were laid upon.

The new streetcar system, containing thirteen miles of track, was officially open for business on Saturday, January 30, 1897. The New Castle News of Wednesday, February 3, 1897, reported on the grand opening with, “The opening of the street railway system of the New Castle Traction company on Saturday afternoon was a successful and most enjoyable event. It was the occasion on which the fondest hopes of the business men of this city and the general public were realized; and one on which the cobwebs were swept out of the brains of old fogies and doubting Thomases about industrial progress in this city. Some six years ago the New Castle Electric line was built and proved of great benefit to the city. Did it pay? It certainly did… There are 10 street cars numbered from 101 to 110 inclusive. The bodies of the cars were built by the New Castle Manufacturing company. The trucks were made by the Maguire Manufacturing company of Chicago. The motors by the Westinghouse Manufacturing company of Pittsburg: and there are two 30 horse power motors to each car… The officials of the road in this city are Hon. R. R. Quay, Senator, Senator Kennedy, DeWitt Dilworth and Superintendent Wm. Cummings.”

The article went on to describe the festivities with, “The procession of cars began to leave the office on the Diamond at 2p.m., while the Excelsior band discoursed strains of martial music and the popular aire of the day rendering many selections in a delightful manner. The first pieces played were “The Gypsy Waltz and Serenade.” Washington street was crowded with people all afternoon. The line of movement of the cars was from the diamond to Mahoningtown and return to the fairgrounds on Highland avenue, and thence to the power plant and car barn. The officials of the company, Quay, Kennedy, Dilworth and Cummings, and some of the most prominent citizens and the guests of the company from a distance occupied car No. 105 which contained some 35 persons. This car is finished off more elegantly and elaborately than any one on the line.”

With the success of the inner city streetcar lines across the country the idea for “interurban” lines, essentially speedier streetcars running through the countryside to connect different cities, was gaining momentum. Before too long an article in the New Castle News of Wednesday, February 10, 1897, touched on the issue with, “Every outward evidence points that the time is in no far distant future when a complete trolley system will extend from New Castle to Pittsburg. Traction syndicates are perfecting there plan every day with this end in view. Right here in New Castle there is every evidence that our own line is to form a part of this immense system.” It took a few years to come to fruition, but the first “interurban” system was opened between Newark and Granville in central Ohio in December 1899.

Levi Brinton, who grew increasingly frustrated, finally gave in and sold the Brinton Park property to the New Castle Traction Company in March 1897. The New Castle Traction Company wasted no time in building up Brinton Park, soon renamed as Cascade Park, with amusement rides and other amenities. The company also added a streetcar extension to the park via Hamilton Street – along the route of the old Brinton Park Street Railway Company. The property was transformed to become another of the so-called “Trolley Parks,” the turn-of-the-century precursor to the modern amusement park. Trolley Parks were operated by the streetcar companies as a way to drum up trolley business on the off-peak weekends and – in some cases – to show off their associated electric services with the various lighted rides and displays.

While urban streetcar systems blossomed in such places as New Castle and Youngstown, a host of “interurban” streetcar lines were established to connect them all together. In late 1901 the New Castle & Lowellville Street Railway Company began work on an interurban line to Lowellville, which then connected with another line and continued on to Youngstown and Warren. This line, known as the “Lowellville Line,” ran from along the north bank of the Mahoning River and made a stop in rural Edinburg. In about May 1902 this line was merged with the New Castle streetcar system and consolidated under the new Pennsylvania & Mahoning Valley Railway Company.

In July 1902 an interurban competitor known as the Sharon & New Castle Street Railway Company opened a line between New Castle and Sharon. The “Sharon Line” basically followed south of the Marr Road and made numerous stops in the rural areas of Union, Mahoning, and Pulaski Townships. The stations were numbered, such as “Stop 89” near Harbor, “Stop 78” near Frizzleburg, and “Stop 71” near New Bedford, or “Stop 69” at the State Line Road. The company initially opened a station at the corner of Sampson and Grant Streets, but in the summer of 1903 was able to negotiate a deal to travel along the tracks of the New Castle Electric Street Railway Company and into downtown New Castle.

Another major reorganization took place a few years later. The New Castle News of Wednesday, May 3, 1905, reported, “A gigantic merger of trolley interests between the Pennsylvania & Mahoning Valley and the New Castle & Sharon lines, which has been under consideration for some days, has about been concluded and the formal announcement of the completion of the big deal is looked for any minute. The merger will involve a larger amount of property than any occurring here in many years, the amount affected reaching far beyond the $2,000,000 mark in stock.”

The merger led to the creation of the powerful Mahoning & Shenango Valley Railway & Light Company, a parent company that soon consolidated all of the aforementioned railway lines and various electric and gas companies. This powerful corporation, based in Youngstown, controlled a streetcar and interurban empire that connected the cities of New Castle, Sharon, Wheatland, Sharpsville, and West Middlesex in Pennsylvania, and the cities of Lowellville, Struthers, Youngstown, Hubbard, Girard, Niles, and Warren in Ohio. By the end of 1907 the Mahoning & Shenango Valley Railway & Light Company controlled about 150 miles of streetcar track. It also owned the main power companies in New Castle, Youngstown, and Sharon.

In late July 1908 another unaffiliated interurban line known as the Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler, and New Castle Railway, known popularly as the Harmony Short Line or simply the Harmony Line, entered New Castle near Cascade Park – and opened a station on Pittsburg Street (East Washington Street). It ran from Pittsburgh up to Evans City where it split into two sections. One line ran off to the northeast towards Butler, while the other section ran west to Ellwood City and then on to New Castle following roughly on what is today Route 65 (New Castle-Ellwood Road). There were many smaller stops in between at such locales known as Frisco, Hazel Dell, Energy, and Shenango.

In New Castle the lines were slowly extended and eventually most of them reached the city limits. The lines were also paired together as trains ran back and forth along either the Mahoningtown-Highland Avenue, West Washington-East Washington Street, or Grant Street-Croton routes. The Hamilton Street line ran from downtown New Castle to Cascade Park. The New Castle News of January 20, 1913, mentioned the pairings with, “New street car service was inaugurated here this morning. The Grant street cars now make the trip to Croton while the Eastside cars go over the Westside lines. A ten minute schedule will be maintained.”

A few months later the Great Flood of March 24-25, 1913, inundated the downtown area of New Castle. The bridges on the Shenango River struggled under the immense surge of water and several of them, including the Gardner Avenue Bridge, had full or partial sections collapse and fall into the river. The severe damage to the Gardner Avenue Bridge resulted in limited streetcar service to Mahoningtown. A temporary bridge was built over the remains of the Gardner Avenue Bridge, but it was unstable and often had to be closed for repairs. For a time the streetcars ran to the bridge and discharged passengers, who then walked across the bridge and caught streetcars that just operated solely in Mahoningtown. It wasn’t until a decade later that a replacement bridge, the Mahoning Avenue Viaduct, was opened in December 1924.

In early 1920 the Mahoning & Shenango Valley Railway & Light Company was reorganized to become the Pennsylvania-Ohio Electric Company (Penn-Ohio). After a further reorganization, completed by 1926, the entire network came under a new parent company known as the Pennsylvania-Ohio Edison Company. All the while the subsidiary known as the New Castle Electric Street Railway Company continued to operate streetcars in New Castle.

The streetcar industry grew rapidly from 1890 until 1905, but progressed at a much slower pace after this. The slow demise of the streetcars began soon after the Great War (World War I) ended in 1918 and was due to several factors. The growing use of the private automobile, which provided a freedom of individual travel never seen before, led to a steady downturn in ridership. The resistance to fare increases on streetcar systems (set by contract at five cents in most cities) severely limited revenue and failed to keep up with the ever-increasing cost of doing business. In many locales automobiles also began to clog city streets and the resulting gridlock obstructed streetcars from providing the timely service they promised.

Probably the most significant reason for the decline was due to the rise of the gasoline-powered motor bus or “motor coach.” Buses were much more efficient to operate and required little infrastructure, while the streetcars and associated rails required costly maintenance to keep them in running order. In addition, for a streetcar line to expand it had to lay new track, which was always a costly and time consuming operation. For a bus line to expand it could – in simple terms – just drive further out.

Streetcar companies undoubtedly viewed the motor bus as a fierce rival at first, but soon realized that these vehicles were the future of mass transportation. In the early 1920’s the Penn-Ohio officials began formulating plans to replace the streetcars with more economical bus service. In November 1922 the Pennsylvania-Ohio Coach Lines, equipped with buses, was chartered with the idea to provide supplemental passenger service along the existing streetcar lines.

In July 1923 the first regularly scheduled bus service was instituted along the Mahoningtown Line, via the West Washington Street-Atlantic Avenue route, as work on the new Mahoning Avenue Viaduct limited travel along Mahoning Avenue. Mahoningtown was served by both streetcars and buses after the new Mahoning Avenue Viaduct opened in December 1924. The interurban lines were also subjected to closure. The Sharon Line ended streetcar service in October 1925 and was replaced with bus service, while the Lowellville Line would follow suit in October 1932.

In January 1928 the Penn-Ohio officials made an application to the Public Service Commission in Harrisburg to abandon streetcar service on the Grant Street and Hamilton Street lines. They planned to establish bus service on Grant Street, but wanted to completely abandon the Hamilton Street route. Six months later bus service was authorized for the Grant Street route, but the issue of abandoning Hamilton Street dragged on for some time.

The New Castle News of Saturday, October 20, 1928, reported, “Councilmen will meet with R. N. Graham, manager of Pennsylvania-Ohio railways next Friday relative to the company’s proposed abandonment of the car line in Hamilton street and also relative to the city’s desire that the company restore streets to the conditions they were when the tracks were laid. The company served notice on the city that revenue does not justify operation of cars in Hamilton street to the Shenango township line – which is part of the company’s route to Cascade Park.” The route was soon abandoned after an agreement was reached, but streetcar service to Cascade Park was still maintained via the East Washington Street line.

Reduction in streetcar service continued with the closing of the West Washington Street line in 1933. The New Castle News of Tuesday, July 11, 1933, provided this update, “The New Castle Electric Street Railway Company was granted authority by the Public Service Commission today to discontinue service on West Washington street, New Castle, from the Public Square to the city line. Simultaneously, the commission authorized the Penn-Ohio Coach Lines Company, an affiliate of the railway company, to start passenger bus service over the abandoned route.”

The New Castle News of Thursday, April 16, 1936, provided an assessment of the transportation network with, “The trolley cars and buses of the New Castle Electric Street Railway company carried 2,000,000 passengers as they covered a distance of 470,000 miles on city streets last year – and today Superintendent Thomas C. Moore pointed out the remarkable fact about it all. It was that the company’s streets cars and buses operated 90,000 miles for every accident charged up against them – and auto fender dints were the “accidents’’ in most cases.”

The cessation of streetcar service continued and the New Castle News of Monday, January 9, 1939, advised, “The New Castle Electric Street Railway company, of New Castle, today was authorized by the Public Utility commission to abandon a section of track known as the Croton Avenue line and to substitute bus service by the Penn-Ohio Coach Lines company, an affiliate. Identical fares and transfer privileges will be allowed. Abandonment of service, however is subject to six conditions set forth in the commission’s order.” Per usual those conditions included the removal of all poles and wires and the removal or paving over of all rails.

The end was near when in June 1941 the New Castle Electric Street Railway Company and the Penn-Ohio Coach Lines made an application to end all streetcar and bus operations in New Castle. The application also called for a new entity known as the Shenango Valley Transportation Company (SVTC) to provide bus service throughout the county and up north to Sharon. The Public Utility Commission reviewed and soon approved the application.

On the afternoon of Thursday, December 11, 1941, all of the streetcars (and affiliated buses) of the New Castle Electric Street Railway Company were taken out of service and replaced with the buses of the Shenango Valley Transportation Company. That day marked the end of over fifty years of streetcar service on the streets of New Castle.

The New Castle News of Wednesday, December 10, 1941, disclosed, “Arrangements have been completed by Superintendent T. C. Moore for the inauguration of the city’s new bus service on Thursday afternoon. The change from the present street car and bus service to the new all-bus service will be made starting at 2 o’clock, following an inaugural parade of the buses and a luncheon to invited guests at the Castleton hotel.” The celebration was likely subdued as the country was still reeling in the shock of the recent Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

A few weeks later workmen began removing the rails and wires of the streetcar lines. The New Castle News of Tuesday, December 23, 1941, reported, “Workmen started in Mahoningtown to remove the old street car trolley wires on Monday. The men made good progress and removed the trolley wire from the end of Liberty street all the way to the Mahoning avenue viaduct. The signal boxes were also removed as were the various transformers and connecting links.”

The work continued well into 1942 and a fight ensued over exactly who would pay for the costly job of repaving the streets. The New Castle News of Thursday, June 11, 1942, elaborated on this this fight with, “All street car rails have been removed the trenches filled in Highland avenue. The turn-out switches and west-bound tracks at Mill and Washington streets have been removed and are being resurfaced and rails are now being removed from the East Washington street terminus of the former street car line. Because of this, citizens now are asking who will resurface not only Highland avenue but also other thoroughfares considered state highway continuations and in which street cars formally operated… Since the P.U.C. granted the application of the New Castle Street Electric Railway for permission to abandon its street car franchise here, (City Solicitor Robert) White has maintained that the city also was relieved of any responsibility it may have had.”

A compromise was soon reached and the project was completed in November 1942. An article in the New Castle News of Wednesday, November 18, 1942, mentioned, “South Beaver Street has been resurfaced according to Mayor Charles B. Mayne. It was the last street from which street car rails had been removed and over which the city had jurisdiction to be improved.” Most of the streetcars and rails were likely sold off or scrapped to support the war effort.

The Shenango Valley Transportation Company remained in service until August 1958, when its drivers and mechanics went on strike during a labor dispute. The strike crippled the cities of New Castle and Sharon and led to a nasty dispute between the bus line and the city council of New Castle. The city began agitating for the Public Utility Commission in Harrisburg to cancel the operating charter of the bus line. As the strike dragged on, and with no signs of compromise, city officials took a new route – they began exploring the idea of establishing a city-owned bus service. In December 1958 the city council, which organized the New Castle Public Transportation Authority, began serious negotiations to acquire the assets of the Shenango Valley Transportation Company.

An agreement, despite ongoing funding issues, was worked out and in late February 1959 the city purchased the vehicles and related equipment of the old bus line. With this action New Castle would become the first city in Pennsylvania to have a municipal-owned bus system. The Public Utility Commission, who would have no control or authority over a city-owned transit service, did not attempt to block the venture. Buses started running again on Monday, March 2, 1959, and a month later the Public Utility Commission cancelled the charter of the Shenango Valley Transportation Company. In November 1965 the bus system came under control of the newly organized New Castle Area Transit Authority (NCATA). The NCATA, based in Mahoningtown, is still in service today and serves all of Lawrence County and even maintains routes to Grove City, Hermitage, and Pittsburgh.

Electric-driven streetcars or “trolleys” first appeared on the streets of New Castle in July 1890. That is when the New Castle Electric Street Railway Company went into operation, running a basic streetcar line along West-East Washington Streets and down South Mill Street (pictured above) to Long Avenue. The system was greatly expanded in the coming years and lines were added to Mahoningtown, West New Castle, and the North Hill. (c1908)

In early 1897 the streetcar company acquired Brinton Park, which was quickly built up and renamed Cascade Park. A force of men began laboring to build streetcar line down Hamilton Street to reach the new park before its grand opening in the summer of 1897. The dangerous work had them digging through hills – along modern day Hamilton Street and Cascade Boulevard – as they developed “the cut.” Two workers were tragically killed in May 1897 as they were buried in a landslide. (1897)

A host of streetcars are depicted here at the entrance to Cascade Park. (c1900)

A streetcar of the Hamilton Street Line pulls up at the entrance to Cascade Park. (c1898)

Most of the city streetcar and interurban lines in the region were eventually consolidated under a single entity. This map from about 1910 depicts the extensive city streetcar system controlled by the Mahoning & Shenango Valley Railway & Light Company (later Penn-Ohio). (c1910) Full Size

A group of conductors and motormen of the New Castle Electric Street Railway Company pose for a photo in downtown New Castle. John Henry Monnin, who worked on the New Castle system for fifteen years, is depicted 3rd from right end. Monnin moved to Meadville in 1920 to most likely work with the Northwestern Pennsylvania Railway Company. (c1915) (Courtesy of Mark Hoffman) Full Size

Trolley operators and other employees of the New Castle Electric Street Railway Company pose for a group photo. (Photo courtesy of Debby Gillis) (1927)Full Size

The same streetcar co-workers pose for another photo. (Photo courtesy of Debby Gillis) (1927) Full Size

Buses began to replace the electric streetcars on their routes beginning in the early 1920’s. The streetcars were slowly phased out and last ever streetcar to run in New Castle was on December 11, 1941. (c1935)

A streetcar is depicted sitting at Cascade Park. This is likely after the Hamilton Street line was closed in late 1928 and streetcars subsequently served Cascade Park along the East Washington Street line. I believe the dancing pavilion is seen in background. (c1935)

The streetcar line on Highland Avenue eventually ran north to about Elizabeth Avenue – with extensions off to the east and west. For many years streetcars on this line ran back and forth along a North Hill-downtown-Mahoningtown route. You would transfer in downtown if you wanted to go somewhere else. (c1935)

Tickets for the Highland Avenue-downtown-Mahoningtown route. (c1915) Full Size

Electric-powered Streetcars or trolleys such as this graced the streets of New Castle for over fifty years from the summer of 1890 until December 1941. (c1940)


  1. I remember being on the streetcar that ran on Highland Ave also Highland Ave was a brick street and I read somewhere that the tracks are still there underneath the black top

  2. My grandfather was older and more fortunate than little Bessie Seamans was in 1894.


    Reed McCullough, the ten-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry McCullough of the North Hill, was badly injured by a street car on the Highland line Saturday evening. He was playing with other small companions along the car line when the accident occurred. In trying to run across the street in front of the approaching car Reed was struck and his right arm broken. He was also bruised and Dunn & Rice’s ambulance was summoned and conveyed him to the office of Dr. J. M. Popp where his injuries were dressed.

    New Castle Herald; New Castle, Pennsylvania; Monday, July 12, 1909. Page 5
  3. When work on the interurban was completed, my grandfather moved his family to Frizzleburg and he manned the DC booster station there. Just now, I am looking at a clip board once used by my father. It is aluminum and is etched “J R MITCHELL P&O ELECTRIC COMPANY 1923.” We moved to NC from Sharon in 1938 when they built the generating plant in West Pittsburgh. We lived on Northview Ave on the north hill. I used to put pennies on the trolley tracks at the corner of Elizabeth St and Highland Ave and the trolley would squash them into medallions as they ran over them. We knew enough to give the trolleys a wide berth. I always get a kick out of posts that talk about 1958 as the “old days”. By then I was out of college, out of the army, married and living in Cleveland. Why did I return to New Castle from Houston, TX? That is a long story for another day.

  4. Hello. Me and my family lived in the house at the booster station for about 12 years back in 80’s and early 90’s. Wondering if you had any old photos or more info on the station and house? Love to hear from you.


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