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Windber Trolley Graveyard: An apocalyptic trolley graveyard sitting out deep in the woods of Pennsylvania

David Goran

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.

Long Line of Trolleys.

Long Line of Trolleys. These collections date from the early days of historic trolley lines. Photo Credit

 

A huge graveyard that hosts over 45 old transportation vehicles.

A huge graveyard, stored on the site of a former mine, that hosts over 45 old transportation vehicles. Photo Credit

 

The PCC streamlined streetcars languishing in the woods are from Philadephia SEPTA and Boston MBTA.

The PCC streamlined streetcars languishing in the woods are from Philadephia SEPTA and Boston MBTA. Photo Credit1 Photo Credit2

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.

Once filled with people, the trains sit decaying on winding tracks.

Over the years, the trolleys fall into disrepair. Once filled with people, the trains sit decaying on winding tracks. Photo Credit

 

Mother Nature has been hard on these once-cherished machines.

Dozens of trolleys and train cars from PA, MA, KS in various states of decomposition. Mother Nature has been hard on these once-cherished machines. Photo Credit

 

Vandalism has increased and theft of copper wires and parts have been taken.

Vandalism has increased, with the theft of copper wires and parts. Photo Credit

 

The trains were collected by a man who once fixed them, but over the years, they fall into disrepair.

The trains were collected by a retired civil engineer who spent his career with the Army Corp of Engineers. He purchased a lot of these streetcars starting in the 1980s Photo Credit

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.

When Metka retired, after a career as a civil engineer in the Army Corp of Engineers, he worried that many of the great trolley models were being sold for scrap or destroyed.

Metka lived in Maryland when he acquired his first streetcar in 1986. When Metka retired, after a career as a civil engineer in the Army Corp of Engineers, he worried that many of the great trolley models were being sold for scrap or destroyed. Photo Credit

 

He has goals for these streetcars but a lot of them are way beyond repair.

Metka has goals for these streetcars but a lot of them are way beyond repair. He believes that each could be refurbished or provide parts for other streetcar restorations. Photo Credit

 

Ed Metka does occasionally give tours, so that is one way to see the cars.

Ed Metka does occasionally give tours, so that is one way to see the cars. Photo Credit1 Photo Credit2

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.

Read another story from us: World’s first underground park to be built in an abandoned trolley terminal in New York that has been unused for more than 60 years

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.