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Fire at National Capital Trolley Museum
Destroys Eight Historic Cars and Building
As reported by the Trolley
|In the early hours of Sunday,
September 28, 2003, a fire of unknown origin destroyed four streetcars
from the Washington Streetcar Collection, three Austrian trams from
the International Collection and the Johnstown Traction Company car
from the American Trolley Collection; and their carhouse at the National
Capital Trolley Museum.
The loss of Capital Transit Company 1053,
the unique experimental streamlined car, and DC Transit 0509, the
rare streetcar that once served Great Falls, Maryland has destroyed
physical links to the technological development of streetcars in
the Nations Capital. CTCo 1053 was familiar to Washington
residents living along Wisconsin Ave. in Georgetown and along Pennsylvania
Avenue. Preserved by DC Transit in 1956, CTCo 1053 helped close
out the trolley era in Washington, DC. Constructed in 1899 as an
open air car, DC Transit 0509 survived several rebuildings and was
last used during the construction of the Museums demonstration
railway. The loss of two Washington, DC snowsweepers ends the Museums
ability to interpret street railway snow removal. One of the sweepers,
Washington, Alexandria and Mt. Vernon 51 was the sole surviving
car from the trolley lines that served Northern Virginia from the
1890s until the 1930s. Capital Transit 07 originally swept the snow
along the route to Laurel, MD. Operating examples of the other cars
lost in the fire exist in Austria and elsewhere in the United States
but were significant in the Museums overall interpretation
of the development of the electric street. car.
The cars are priceless artifacts. However,
based on market conditions for heritage trolleys and the Museums
recent experience with the quarter-million dollar restoration of
Johnstown Traction Company 352, Museum officials estimate the loss
of the cars at $8 - $10 Million dollars. The Museum has not established
a value of the loss of the carhouse at this time.
The Trolley Museum has planned for the construction
of a new display building that would have housed the destroyed streetcars.
The design building features all-metal construction and a fire supression
system. Contributions to the building fund may be sent to the Trolley
Museum at 1313 Bonifant Road, Silver Spring, MD 20905
The Museum plans to reopen and continue to
serve the 20,000 annual visitors, including those on school trips,
and will announce details at a later time.
That Were Destroyed
||Type of Car
||American Car Company
||J. G. Brill
||St. Louis Car Company
|| JTCo 352
||St. Louis Car Company
Capital Traction Company 766 was not damaged.
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