Located in Western Pennsylvania in Somerset County, a long row of WWII-era streetcars extends into the woods.
It’s one of the oddest destinations in the state and it’s like something straight out of an apocalyptic horror movie. This graveyard houses over 45 mostly ’30s and ’40s-era trolleys/streetcars that ran in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Johnstown, and Boston. The cars were trucked by flatbeds from Boston to this railcar repair shop in Windber, a small coal mining town in the mountains of Pennsylvania.
These cars are PCC Streetcars, with years ranging from 1936-1952. PCC stood for Presidents’ Conference Committee, who were part of the design of these cars. The PCC streetcar design was first built in the United States in the 1930s and at the time stood out as a model in the industry for its performance and looks.
It has proved to be a long-lasting icon of streetcar design, as PCC cars are still in service in various places around the world. The manufacturer of these were St. Louis Car Company and Pullman Standard and they manufactured about 5000 of these before ending production.
Vandalism has taken its toll on them and scrap metal thieves have been stealing parts from the cars. The ‘wrecks’ were collected by Ed Metka, a retired civil engineer with a passion for streetcars, who worked for the Army Corps of Engineers and who once fixed them. He purchased a lot of these streetcars in the 1980s when rail services were auctioning off their out of service PCC fleet.
He also obtained these from other private organizations. But over the years, Metka let them fall into disrepair and a lot of them are way beyond repair. The trees that have grown in and around the rusting track are a testament to how long these old, rusty, and abandoned trolleys shells have lain here.
Metka has yet to find a buyer for the vintage trolley cars to restore them or to use them as parts in the restoration of other vintage streetcars.
He has been in talks with a number of East Coast cities that have started to revisit the idea of streetcars as a valuable form of transportation. Access is by appointment only.