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Langhorne Trolley

Submitted and published in the Langhorne Ledger  by Sally Valone of the Historic Langhorne Association

            According to the Memories of Henry.C.Parry on file at Historic Langhorne Association, Henry states that about a year before he was born in 1894 his father was instrumental in helping build an electric trolley line from Langhorne to Reading Railroad Station. This was the first such transportation in Bucks County. His sister, Laura Parry was the first lady to take a ride on the trolley.

            Mr. Parry demanded courtesy from his conductors and wages were 10 cents per hour for a 10 hour day. A short time later the line was extended totrolleys1.jpg (27097 bytes) Hulmeville, Midway and Bristol. Then other interest extended it from Langhorne to Newtown. The Final step was to build to Stoops Corner, Penns Park, Wycombe and Doylestown.

            The Langhorne, Bucks County’s first trolley car is seen in 1896 J. G. Brill Co. builder’s view. On Saturday, the 18th of April 1896, the Langhorne took its initial trip from Winchester Avenue at the northern limit of Langhorne to the Langhorne Depot on the New York Division of Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. The Langhorne was a single-truck, 5 window closed car with a 16 foot body. The original line was 1.75 miles long.

            The trolley line was extended to Bristol in the same year, to Newtown in 1897, to Wycombe in 1899 and to Doylestown in 1900. The finished line wastrtrack.jpg (33537 bytes) 26 miles long and operated under the name of The Newtown Electric Street Railway Co.

            The original company had been known as the Newtown, Langhorne and Bristol Trolley Street Railway Co. Construction began in August 1896 at Eden (now Penndel). A bridge was being built over the Philadelphia and Langhorne tracks just below the Langhorne Depot on Hulmeville Ave. to connect to Bristol. The first car arrived in Bristol in December 1896, a 40 minutes ride from Eden to Bristol. Fare for the 8-mile ride was 15-cents. Upon completion of the bridge at Eden in January 1897, through service began from Langhorne to Bristol. The 40 minute ride would carry as many as 2000 passengers on a Sunday. 

            In December 1897 the Newtown Electric Street Railroad Company made its inaugural run from Newtown to the railroad underpass( twin bridges) attrolleys6ls.jpg (28243 bytes) Langhorne. There the tracks stopped and the passengers had to walk through the underpass to change cars for the trip to Langhorne and Bristol. Both Newtown and the Langhorne-Bristol Company had requested permission to lay tracks through the underpass to make a connection, but although the turnpike passed under the railroad track, the Pennsy refused.

            Early on the morning of May 12th, 1899, President Thomas Chambers of the Newtown Company, Trying to force the issue, had workmen install railstrolleys7.jpg (29937 bytes) and overhead wire in the early morning light. As connection was made a construction train of the Pennsylvania Railroad with some 100 laborers arrived and proceeded to tear up the rails and cut down the wire. Newtown firemen pumped streams of water at the disrupters. In retaliation the PA Railroad laborers cut hoses. Within a ˝ hour, the railroad crews overpowered the opposition and a hook was placed on the track and with the train engine, tore up the track. The Langhorne constable arrested about 12 of the railroad laborers.

            The railroad received an injunction against the trolley company, but when the case went to court, the railroad won. Before a subsequent appeal, the railroad changed its stand and tracks and wire were reinstalled. Trips between Newtown and Bristol occurred in October 1899 without having to walk through the underpass. The line eventually extended to Doylestown and thrived for many years before succumbing on October 31st, 1923.


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