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Discover Streetcar History

Community Development

Stop at the Rock Creek Railway and think about life in the '30's. Yes, there were cars and some trucks but there were still lots of horses. Follow the line up to the end - the B&O RR came through there and delivered the lumber to build the houses. Did you know there really was a Chevy Chase Lake? And that there was a popular bandstand there?

Street Cars Go to the Movies

One of our most attractive exhibits is a series of clips from the silent movies of Harold Lloyd. While you are waiting for your street car ride, spend a few minutes in our movie theater and see how popular street cars were in the early 20th century. Watch master comedian Lloyd perform all of his own stunt work, but also think about why movies and streetcars were such a good mix. The huge movie theaters were the first public places to be air conditioned and street cars provided an easy way to get there on a Saturday afternoon; remember, most of the population did not have automobiles for personal transportation.
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Trolley By Golly

On the weekends, plan to spend time watching "Trolley by Golly," a 12 minute film that fits in nicely between street car rides. This is a richly illustrated account about the development of street car transportation - from horses to electricity and the attractive employment opportunities that it presented.
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Electric Innovation

Spend some time looking at the exhibits on the walls and the maps showing the early lines heading out from the city. Look carefully and you'll see where there were amusement parks (also known as Trolley Parks). The first streetcar lines had to generate their own electricity, and it wasn't long before the companies figured out that if they built some electrical entertainment at the end of the streetcar line, people would come and sooner or later would want electricity to light their homes and cool their food. The streetcar lines were happy to sell their electricity to the communities. Think about how different life was without electrical power. Think about how the invention of the electric fan would have been a popular achievement at the time!
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