A Thursday afternoon in Scranton.

As incredible as it may seem, I live in a city with a working trolley museum but hadn’t gone for a ride for more than four months prior to this week.

What can I say? One was busy.

A pair of colleagues who had never ridden the Electric City Trolley Museum’s line expressed an interest in taking a ride, and Thursday proved the ideal fall day for it. The showers that had been forecast gave way to brilliant fall skies, and we were off.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, the museum’s regular excursion route must be one of the longest and most interesting museum runs, well, anywhere: Five miles each way with the 4,747-foot former Laurel Line interurban tunnel mid-route.

Thursday also offered another rare treat: A brief lineside stop on the return trip during which I was able to snap some pictures in the area near St. Mary’s Cemetery in South Scranton. Unfortunately, I only had my BlackBerry to shoot off a few images at close range, but I took my best shot with the photo op.

In any case, the museum and its ride are highly recommended. The regular season ends next weekend, but with a bang: Another rare opportunity — night rides — during the museum’s “Halloween Trolley Terror” event.

Dates are Friday, Oct. 29 and Saturday Oct. 30. Trolley rides and tours are at 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30 and 9 p.m. and advanced tickets sales recommended. Tickets will include a trolley ride and tour. For tickets and more information call (570) 963-6590.

Red Arrow car 76 paused across from St. Mary's Cemetery in South Scranton.

Red Arrow car 80 crosses South Washington Avenue, Scranton, during an outbound trip in 2006 or 2007. Click image for my fotopic page of ECTMA images from that period.

Thursday’s trip used Philadelphia Suburban Transportation car 76, and I expect the terror trolley event will do the same. The 1926 Brill center door car has been the museum line’s workhorse. It has occasionally been complemented by a fellow Red Arrow refugee, Brill “Master Unit” car 80 of 1932, although that car is currently out of service for a motor ailment.

Other museum vehicles in the restoration pipeline are Philadelphia city car 5205 of 1923 (work in progress) and Scranton city car 324 of 1903 (pending restoration).

The Philadelphia cars have been a godsend, however, bringing working electric traction back to Scranton. The Laurel Line’s original interurban cars (the system was separate from Scranton’s city car operations) are all believed to have been burned after the route’s abandonment in 1952. Their memory lives on in an outstanding history by James Henwood and John G. Muncie, a report about which can be found here.

Perhaps the closest we may come to a trip in a Laurel Line trolley will be when Chicago, Aurora & Elgin car 453 is restored for operation in Scranton. Though built in 1945, the heavy duty interurban car bears the closest resemblance to the Laurel Line’s latter day vehicles of any vehicle in the ECTMA collection. A refugee from two Ohio establishments — the now-defunct Trolleyville and the failed Lake Shore Electric heritage project — car 453 arrived in Scranton earlier this year,  its odyssey reported here and here. Having spent much of the past half century indoors, the hope is that car 453 won’t need major work to make it operable once again.

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