Nine Years Ago Today, a Most Memorable Outing

The late Frank Kellogg boards car 4398 at the beginning of the tour of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. The outing there was held June 6, 2010.

I ran across the other day a computer folder with scans labeled “Pennsylvania Trolley Museum” that contained images I made during an Akron Railroad Club outing there nine years ago today (June 6, 2010).

Seeing those images brought back a flood of memories about one of the ARRC’s most successful endeavors during my time as president.

The idea to make a trip to the museum came from Alex Bruchac in response to my call for ideas of activities the club could pursue that year.

That was during the winter and sometime that spring the members voted in favor of making the trip.

Alex, who is a long-time volunteer at the museum, made all of the arrangements, including chartering a Southeastern Trailways motor coach.

The outing got off to a less than promising start when thunderstorms rolled through Northeast Ohio that morning.

A few of us met for breakfast at the Bob Evans restaurant on Rockside Road in Independence, which was located adjacent to the hotel where the bus would stop and pick up those from the Cleveland area.

From there the bus proceeded to the club’s meeting site, the New Horizons Christian Church, to pick up the Akron area contingent.

All told there were 37 ARRC members and guests on the trip, which was a good turnout for an ARRC outing.

We stopped at a rest area on the Ohio Turnpike en route to enable those who wished to do to get breakfast at a McDonald’s.

From there we headed for Washington, Pennsylvania, the location of the museum, which was once known as the Arden Trolley Museum.

We were greeted by museum CEO Scott Becker, who would be our host and tour guide for the day.

Becker showed us a short video about the museum, talked about the collection and answered questions.

The classroom session out of the way, we walked out the door and boarded car 4398, an orange-colored former Pittsburgh Railways car that had been built in 1917 by St. Louis Car Company.

The 4398 had recently been restored and ferried us around the museum grounds. We were the first group to ride in the car since it had returned to revenue service.

It was one of three cars we rode that day. The others were the red and cream No. 1711, a PCC built in 1949 by St. Louis Car for Pittsburgh Railways; and the maroon-colored No. 78, built by Brill in 1931 for the Red Arrow Lines of Philadelphia.

Between trips aboard these three cars, which covered all of the museum’s trackage, we toured the car barns and heard about the history of the other cars in the museum’s collection.

Much of the time our motorman for the day was Dave Carpenter, the lead car operator instructor.

The storms that had struck earlier in the day stayed away and we remained dry.

As evening began approaching, we re-boarded our bus and stopped for dinner at a nearby Eat ‘n Park restaurant.

Then it was back to Akron and Independence. During the trip home four of the officers came up with the plan to name J. Gary Dillon as an ARRC life member at the July meeting.

My recollection is that we didn’t lose money on this outing and the high number of participants raised the prospect of doing another bus tour.

We discussed doing the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, but that idea never came close to coming about. There was some complication in doing it and I no longer recall those details.

There was also a concern that if a trip was poorly attended the club could lose a lot of money.

As enjoyable as the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum trip had been I wasn’t sure we could duplicate that success on another trip.

Some events just seem to have everything going for them and the same level of enthusiasm for an encore performance just isn’t there.

That trip to Pennsylvania would be the last time that the ARRC took a bus trip to a museum or event. In fact it was the only such outing the club has had since I joined the group in 2003.

When I look back on that trip today I can’t help but think about some of the ARRC members and friends who were there that day who have since passed away.

It was just one of those days when it seemed that everything just worked out very well and everyone who was there had a good, if not great, time.

I’m reminded of a couple of lines from the Bryan Adams song Summer of ’69: “And if I had the choice, yeah I always wanna be there.”

I haven’t been back to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum since that 2010 trip. It always seemed to be far away and I wasn’t familiar with how to get there.

Unless you are really passionate about streetcars and trolleys there is the element of seeing it once is enough.

Nonetheless, enough time has passed that it might be worthwhile to visit again.

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