History of NTHT Continued
History of Streetcars in Fort Worth
The first streetcar in Fort Worth began operation on Christmas Day 1876, for the Fort Worth Street Railway Company. Streetcars of this time era were mule drawn. B.B. Paddock, on the first run, commented; "that the mule was little larger than a west Texas jackrabbit". The need for this line was brought about by the arrival of the Texas and Pacific Railroad six months earlier. The new line was constructed from the county courthouse to the T & P depot about a mile away. This line afforded a much smoother ride than that available by horse and carriage over the somewhat muddy and always rough roads of that day. By 1887, Fort Worth had between 160 to 180 mules operating out of three stables to pull the streetcars.
In 1888, a deal was struck to begin electrifying certain lines in Fort Worth . The following year, 1889, saw the first electric streetcars in the southwest. Electric streetcars, sometimes called trolleys, had replaced all the mule drawn cars by 1890. By the time of electrification there were as many as 20 different railway companies competing with the Fort Worth Street Railway Company. Some of these other lines included the Main Street and Union Depot Line, the North Fort Worth Belt Line, the Rosedale Street Railway Co., and the Arlington Heights Traction Co. As time passed, the Fort Worth Street Railway Co. was bought out and renamed the Northern Texas Traction Co. The successor company to Fort Worth 's original line eventually bought out all other competing lines in Fort Worth .
In, 1902, the Northern Texas Traction Co. (NTTC) introduced interurbans to their roster of electric vehicles. Interurbans are high speed intercity trolleys. Interurban service on the NTTC ran from downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas in less than an hour. The interurbans competed directly with Texas and Pacific Railway's passenger service to Dallas . In 1913, the NTTC started interurban service to Cleburne .
The development of the automobile and bus lines had a profound effect on the mass transit industry. The NTTC was no exception. Ridership of the streetcars and interurbans declined as the automobile increased in popularity. The NTTC fought hard to reverse their declining fortunes. The most notable of their moves was the introduction of the Crimson Limited in October of 1924. The Crimson Limited was the name given to the upgraded interurban service to Dallas because the cars were painted bright red. The trailer car saw the most extensive upgrades. The bench seats in the rear half of the car were removed and replaced with wicker chairs. The rear doors were converted to windows giving the car a "parlor car" appearance. Additional upgrades were implemented in 1927. Although the public approved of the new more luxurious trains and more modern streetcars, they continued to abandon mass transit for the automobile. The first streetcar line to be replaced by buses was the South Main line in November 1929.
The NTTC went into receivership in 1932. The once proud interurban service was discontinued in 1934 and replaced by buses. In 1938 the company emerged as the Fort Worth Transit Co. The last streetcar line, the Riverside line, was motorized in 1939.
Streetcars were brought back to Fort Worth in the 1960"s by the Leonard brothers. The Leonard brothers operated a famous downtown department store. These cars were old PCC style cars that were modernized to support a subway system that took people from a free parking area to their downtown store. This system was called the Tandy Subway and operated until August 30, 2002 . NTHT bought many of their cars and parts for preservation and restoration.
The modern day successor of the Fort Worth Railway Co., "The T", is involved with NTHT on the restoration of two original Fort Worth trolleys for future public enjoyment. Most of the restoration activity is supplied by volunteers from NTHT and "TheT" has designated Lee Lavell as the construction coordinator. The money for restoration came from a federal grant. The first car restored, Car #25, is housed at the Intermodal Transportation Center on Jones Street . Tours can be arranged by contacting Robert "Gabby" Garbarino. Car # 411 is nearing completion and volunteers continue to work on it most Tuesdays.
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