Huntingdon Trolley Line- Huntingdon transportation system
In the early years of Juniata College, students from the surrounding area took horse-drawn omnibuses from the train station to the college, but in 1907 the Juniata Valley Electric Street Railway Company began trolley service through Huntingdon. Approved by the borough council in August of 1906, track construction from the Pennsylvania railroad station to Juniata College was completed in ten short months by J. Murray Africa’s company of engineers. Cars began running over Fourth, Washington, Eleventh and Moore Streets on June 3, 1907, with the last stop on Moore Street in front of Founders Hall at Juniata College. The trolley ran on four-and-a-half miles of four foot wide, eight-and-a-half inch gauge electric track with six motor and two other cars, with electricity provided by the Wilson Electric Company. The general offices of directors R.W. Jacobs, C.H. Glazier, J.M. Starr, G.W. Fisher and H.E. Steel remained in Huntingdon, as did the trolley repair shops. This allowed Huntingdon to become the trolley center for the county and provided jobs for local residents.
In 1909, several competing trolley companies in Huntingdon: the Juniata Valley Electric Street Railway Co., the Juniata Valley Street Ry., and the Big Valley Street Ry. Co.- consolidated to form the Huntingdon, Lewistown & Juniata Valley Traction Company. The Traction Company was officially consolidated on July 2, 1909, and retained most of the Board of Directors from the Juniata Valley Electric Street Railway Company. The only notable change was the absence of C.H. Glazier, who was replaced by John Watts of Belleville, PA. Operations of the trolley remained the same as well; offices and repair shops stayed in Huntingdon and power was still supplied by Wilson Electric. One passenger car was removed from the roster of equipment, but other than that there were no changes, and this car was soon replaced.
The Huntingdon, Lewistown & Juniata Valley Traction Co. planned to continue trolley service from Huntingdon to Cold Spring Park, and then out to Lewistown, Mt. Union, Mill Creek, and Reidsville through the Kishacoquillas Valley. This projected fifty-mile track expansion would encourage students in surrounding towns to attend Juniata College part time by allowing a one-day round trip, and cheaply by avoiding train fares. In 1910, the Company placed a mortgage on record with the Electric Railway Journal for $1,500,000. About twelve miles of grading for track between Huntingdon and Lewistown was completed before the project was scrapped due to financial woes. By 1920, it was clear that the Traction Company faced troubles, recording $22,430 in earnings but $21,601 in expenses. After taxes and bank payments, the Traction Company faced a $4,300 deficit, or in 2012 terms, about $49,000.
In 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, the trolley ceased operation due to economic problems caused by the rise of automobiles and buses which reduced trolley use. The track was abandoned, then torn up and paved over. A bus service run by Huntingdon and Broad Top Transit Co. Soon replaced the trolley for travel between the train station and Juniata College, but it died out post-WWII due to the rise of automobiles. Despite financial troubles, the trolley remained a large enough part of Huntingdon history to return for the bicentennial. In 1967, a motorized version of the trolley was built and used in several parades and other events to commemorate Huntingdon County's Bicentennial.
Olivia Millunzi ‘16
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