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The Trolley Controversy in Sewickley

Signals, September 2018


Although trolley lines were extensive in other places in Allegheny and Beaver Counties, they were never laid in Sewickley and Edgeworth. They became a major issue around 1903-04, and the controversy continued for years. The premier issue of The Weekly [Sewickley] Herald, Volume 1, No. 1, Saturday September 19, 1903, had this headline on page one, followed by an article quoting unnamed residents on both sides of the issue:

The end of the line from Beaver was just short of the bridge over Little Sewickley Creek on Beaver Road, Edgeworth. In earlier days, the house there was owned by E. W. Falck, who operated a construction firm there. Although the property was technically in Edgeworth, the business address was Leetsdale, thus legally accommodating the trolley turnabout. The end of the line in Sewickley was on the Sewickley side of the Sewickley Bridge, where the BMW dealership is today. Number 23 trolleys actually came over the bridge, but they did not come into Sewickley. The Number 23, which began as an early route of the Pittsburgh, Neville Island & Coraopolis Railway Company in 1894, was discontinued in 1952. Below is a small sampling of the material in the Historical Society’s collection concerning the trolley controversy. In addition to issues of the Sewickley Herald, we also have photographs and an essay by Jim Simons entitled “The Trolley Question,” written in the 1970s for Charles Hinds, a history teacher at Quaker Valley High School.


 

The Junction: The Streetcar History of Beaver County and Its Adjoining Areas

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 7:30 p.m., at the Old Sewickley Post Office

A Program by Jeffrey Snedden


Nestled between the communities of Rochester and New Brighton is an area known locally as Junction Stretch. Today, Junction Stretch is part of PA-65, a connector adjoining the upper and lower Beaver Valley, a fairly innocuous stretch of highway. The history of Junction Stretch tells a different story, one built along the tracks of the mighty streetcar. For nearly half a century, streetcars dominated transportation in Beaver County, connecting citizens of every community to one another with a convenience never before experienced. Streetcars also connected Beaver County to other progressive towns and cities, including New Castle, Steubenville and East Liverpool. Controversy was a part of the streetcar era, as each community fought to retain what it felt were its individual qualities.

In this lecture, Mr. Snedden will explore the history of streetcars and trolleys from the local perspective, showing how streetcars helped to build Beaver County as it exists today. He will also talk about the Sewickley gap between Beaver County and Pittsburgh trolley service.

Jeffrey Snedden is a local historian, writer, and researcher. He is the author of the long-running “Histories & Mysteries” column in the Beaver County Times and the host of the “History in a Minute” video series on timesonline.com. Since 2015, he has sat on the Board of Trustees for the Beaver County Historical Research & Landmarks Foundation. He has been studying Beaver County and Western Pennsylvania history since 1995. He is a lifelong resident of Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania.

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