By Eric Berger
The largest private collection of trolley cars in the U.S. has been sold to a scrapper. But the torches are reportedly being held in abeyance through the end of the year to provide one last chance for museums or others to obtain parts or cars from the collection at Vintage Electric Streetcar Company in Windber, Pa. The site has become famous on the internet as “the trolley graveyard.”
Starting with the 1992 purchase of 14 PCC cars retired from Boston’s MBTA, Ed Metka took on the task of single-handedly rescuing as many as he could of America’s rapidly vanishing PCC streetcars. Those Boston cars cost just $500 to $1000 each, plus the cost of trucking them to the old Pennsy railcar shop in Windber. In subsequent years, the collection grew to include nearly 60 pieces in conditions ranging from nearly roadworthy to unsalvageable.
Frank Hicks reported to the Preserved North American Electric Railway Cars list in May that eight cars are stored inside the shop — a pair of 1910-vintage car bodies from Grand Rapids; two Philadelphia PCC cars built in 1948; three air-electric PCC cars from Boston built in 1945; and Johnstown Traction 362, a 1926 St. Louis Car Company trolley, the only complete car on site that isn’t a PCC.
Scattered around the 20-acre property outside the shop are PCC cars from Philadelphia, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Boston, and Kansas City, Mo. Graffiti covers many of the cars and vandalism has taken as great a toll, along with exposure to the elements. Hicks said he believes most will be scrapped. Serious inquiries from parties interested in obtaining cars or parts should go to Bill Pollman at (617)828-7309.