May 4, 2010

Light Rail, circa 1935

The Lehigh Valley Transit Company ran a trolley between 8th and Hamilton and just outside Philadelphia between 1901 and 1951. In 1913 the company completed the 8th Street Bridge, which remains one of Allentown's icons to this day.

The Liberty Bell functioned as a trolley as it stopped in Coopersburg, Quakertown, Sellersville and the different towns along the way, but approached speeds of eighty miles a hour on the open track between them. At the last station in Upper Darby, passengers could transfer to a different company to complete the ride into center city Philadelphia.

Here in the Valley the company transitioned to buses by the early 1950's, and became part of Lanta in 1972. Lanta and Easton officials might take notice that the Allentown Ticket Office, shown in above photo, is only 75 feet from 8th and Hamilton, which was the center of the business district. The intercity rail beds are pretty much gone now. The same people who now advocate light-rail, couldn't wait to tear up the tracks and make bike paths.


gary ledebur said...

Great historical piece on trolleys. I love trolleys and used to ride them in Pittsburgh as a young boy. You may remember that at the turn of the century, 19 to 20th that is, there was much opposition to trolleys. People were afraid of electricity. Some felt the trolleys would bring undesirable elements into the city. Others thought only the poor would ride them. Walking, horses and bicycles were the preferred modes of transportation.

michael molovinsky said...

in addition to the intercity service, LV Transit also operated inner city trolley service. although the automobile threatened it's existence in the late 20's, first the depression and then WW2 extended the trolley's life until they became completely replaced by buses. from the mid 30's on, their cars were actually quite plush. in phila., the trolley system evolved into current day Septa

Anonymous said...

And now city officials can't wait to tear up the city parks system's soft bridle paths to accommodate blacktop to please
the same cyclists. Fifty years and still some of us do not know how to successfully lobby, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Go Bulldozers.

David Z. said...


Always enjoy these posts.

My great grandfather HR Fehr ran this company with Harry Trexler for a number of years.

They were both on board when the 8th Street bridge was built. I was down at the bridge the other day. A beautiful structure but in need of repair.


Anonymous said...

I love that bridge. Thanks for continuing to keep it in the public eye. Any attention you give it may encourage a sensitive restoration of this important historic structure. I heard once that PennDOT was planning to fix it. Can you check on that and find out what they are planning?