An Electric City homecoming.

Headed home: 505 is loaded aboard a Silk Road Transport trailer in preparation for its move from the Rockhill Trolley Museum to Scranton. Photo by Chuck Kumpas courtesy of Rockhill.

In the parlance of trolley-restoration types, many forlorn cars are revived from “chicken coop” condition.

Scranton Transit 505 — one of the last two streetcars to run in the Electric City on Dec. 18, 1954 — makes such basket cases look pristine.

“I call it the skeletal remains,” Electric City Trolley Museum Association member Andy Maginnis told The Times-Tribune as what’s left of the the 1929 Osgood Bradley Electromobile returned to its hometown earlier this month from the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Southcentral Pennsylvania.

Car 505 is seen departing Scranton’s Nay Aug Park in 1953. Photo courtesy Rockhill Trolley Museum.

Indeed, what rolled into town on the back of a flatbed truck on Nov. 15 doesn’t look like much: two thoroughly rusty sidewalls held together by the spindly ribs of what once were its roof and floor, minus vestibules, ends or interior fittings. I’ve heard the forlorn hulk more charitably described as a trolley in kit-form. That’s because most of the fixtures and fittings were removed and stored in the 1970s. Together with a set of original plans, the Electric City Trolley Museum Association has most of what it needs to turn the carcass back into a working streetcar. ECTMA has a page devoted to the car, including more vintage photos.

The next item on their list? Funding toward what is expected to be a $350,000 restoration. Backers have launched “Project 505” to raise money for the work. According to the newspaper, organizers’ initial goal is to raise $3,000, with a California organization pledging to match that amount if the group can raise it by Jan. 31.

Project 505 chairman Jim Wert told the paper restoration is “at least three years away.” After more than a half-century of rusting away in multiple museums and a scrap yard, that may seem both tantalizingly close and frustratingly distant.

Here is Scranton 505 with Rochester 0243 at the former Rail City museum in 1959. Says Matt Nawn: “Less than five years after it left Scranton, the car was looking pretty rough.” Indeed it was. The remains of 0243, built as passenger car 162 in 1891, are now at the New York Museum of Transportation in suburban Rochester. Like 505, what’s left is basically in kit form.

The trolley’s long, sad journey is outlined in this illustrated Rockhill blog post, with photos reproduced here by the kind permission of the museum’s Matt Nawn.

I sincerely hope to see the day when this trolley is operable again. It is of course significant to Scranton, where I lived for six years, as one of the city’s last two operating cars and one of only three pieces of Scranton Transit rolling stock known to survive. It also rubbed shoulders with three cars from my native city during its first stop in retirement, the defunct Rail City museum in upstate New York, as described here. There, along with 505, were Rochester subway car 60, Rochester sand car 0243 (seen above) and Rochester horsecar 55. All three cars eventually returned to Rochester — like 505’s journey back to Scranton, via somewhat circuitous routes.

I also am hopeful that an artifact I donated to ECTMA last year may come in handy with the eventual restoration of 505.

The project has a Facebook page, while those interested in assisting the cause may send donations to: ECTMA, Project 505, P.O. Box 20019, Scranton, 18502. Checks should made payable to “ECTMA-Project 505.”

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