8.04.2014

Classic Kodachrome Monday #5


Every Monday, I'll be spotlighting a different classic Kodachrome slide that I've picked up, and trying where I can to detail the who, what, when, where, why, and how(much) of the image:

This Week:

What: Streetcar crossing a trestle bridge over a river.
  
Why: I love classic streetcar images, and this one represents one of the most historically fascinating systems around, in that it brought big city streamlined streetcars to location that was hardly a big city.     

When: Most likely 1958 or 1959 at the latest.  The streetcar segment pictured was converted to buses by 1959.

Where: Johnstown, PA.  The specific "where" is actually pretty interesting.  This car is crossing a trestle at the southern end of Central Avenue crossing from Moxham into Ferndale, where it will loop and return back along its route through Downtown Johnstown to Coopersdale.  Rather incredibly, even though the bridge has not seen service for 55 years, at least some of it still remains intact today, including the frame of the northern part of the trestle, offering a fascinating historical mystery to those who might happen to stumble across it today


  
Who: Photo was taken by W. H. Higginbotham, whose name is stamped on the mount.  

How (much): $6.50 on an ebay auction listing - a nice score considering that nice, original streetcar slides can easily go for anywhere from $20 on up.  I have seen some single slides go for nearly $75, far beyond my desired budget.

Addendum: In the Why, I mentioned that I was glad to get a slide from one of the most "historically fascinating systems around." I say this because, in the 1940's, when most other streetcar systems in smaller towns (as well as many systems in large cities as well) had long since been torn up or were being quickly phased out, in large part due to the spread of the automobile, the Johnstown Traction Company elected to reinvest in its rail system following World War II by purchasing 17 brand new streamlined PCC cars to equip its heaviest route.  Unfortunately, the steel industry upon which Johnstown depended, soon saw changes that began to decimate the industry as well as the fortunes of Johnstown, and as a result, the ridership of the streetcar system saw a significant plunge.  By 1954, service levels had dropped so sharply that only five cars were required to run base service on the five main trunk routes.  Still, most routes managed to hang on through the conclusion of the service day on June 11, 1960, when they were replaced by trackless trolley coaches, which operated the core service until 1967, when the system finally became operated entirely by buses.  A Google Map of the general routes can be found here


Johnstown Trolley Coach in Downtown Johnstown, 1954