Trolleys and Trains

Dublin Core


Trolleys and Trains


Before everybody in North Tonawanda could afford their very own muffler-less Honda Civic to run up and down Oliver Street, trolleys and trains were an important means of personal transportation. Several lines ran throughout the city, moving people to and from their jobs, churches, or just out for a look around.

Though they may seem romantic to us now, people griped about the trolleys the same way we complain about snow plows today. Apparently their slow speed was sometimes targeted: An item in this set describes a "well-known peddler" in the Gratwick area who is injured by a trolley car. The author drolly observes, "'Twould have been a real miracle if a Gratwick car could have got up enough speed to have killed him" (Tonawanda News, 1908-2-13).

The trolley era did not last long. By the 1920s, the electric streetcar had been passed by the gasoline-powered bus as the most prevalent means of public transportation. Another article in this set from the Tonawanda News, "Carpenter now operates 14 busses in the Tonawandas," outlines the rise of the Carpenter Rapid Transit buses.


Erie Railway, North Tonawanda Station, hi-res photo (Survey HAER NY-94, LOC, c1910).jpg

Erie Railway, North Tonawanda Station, hi-res photo (Survey HAER NY-94, LOC.jpg

Thompson Street. Spillman Company Engineers (present-day Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum) in the background.