A Brill trackless-trolley fan trip, 67 years ago

395 views
7 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 12,893 posts
A Brill trackless-trolley fan trip, 67 years ago
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, September 28, 2017 5:03 AM

Spring 1950, I was an MIT Freshman.  The buses that had replaced streetcars on the Harvard - Massachusetts Station (via Massachusetts Avenue) were to be replaced by trackless trolleys.  Test operation began.  With the approval of Professor Tucker of the MIT EE Department, I approached Mr. Mathews, MTA Public Relations Director, about an MIT student inspection ride before regular service began.  We got approval, and on the appointed day, about 15 of us boarded a new Brill TT in front of the MIT main entrance, 77 Massachusettes Avenue.   At the Bennett Street carhouse, we could phograph streetcars as well as the new TTs.   On Vassar Street, by the MIT Van de Graf generator, the cutback loop on Vassar and Main Street replacing the simple spring-switch trailing-point crossover that the streetcar line had between Vassar St. and the grade crossing of the B&A's Grand Junction branch, we had our photo stop.

Brills were used only on the Mass. Ave line, and later Central Sq. Watertown.  All other TTs on the system were Pullmans.

  • Member since
    June, 2011
  • 1,872 posts
Posted by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer on Thursday, September 28, 2017 7:47 AM

Thanks for sharing your story with us Dave.  I rode many a trackless trolley in Dallas with my mother when I was still knee high to a Texas grasshopper in the early 50s.  It is interesting to learn that you attended MIT.  So did the late great John W. Barriger III, who went on to work with the RFC in the 30s, later with Monon, P&LE, Katy, and B&M.  We sure could use more like him to run the railroads of today.  

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 12,893 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, September 28, 2017 9:44 AM

Stanly Barriger, John Barriger's son, was a year behind me at MIT and joined our railroad club.  He was a good enough friend for him to invite me to visit the Barriger home and meet his father during the summer of 1952 when I was a student engineer at EMD in La Grange.  Thanks for reminding me.  So I can say that I met John Barriger, along with Phil Hastings, Leonard Bernstein of the D&RGW, and Leonard Bernstein, composer, auther, conductor, pianist teacher and humanitarian.

The Barriger home was in one of the suburbs north of Chicago, Winetka, or Highland Park, or Glencoe, I do not remember which, and someone may be able to remind me.

Stan and I were together on the rear vestibule on the last New Haven steam train into South Station.  Power was an I-4 Pacific, and the I-5 Hudsons had already been retired.  I think the equipment was the preWWII "American Flyers" 8200s, not the postwar silver-sided 8600's

I had forgotton about the Central Square dewirement on our fan-trip and hope to post the photo of the operator restoring contact this Sunday.

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,080 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, September 28, 2017 2:35 PM

That's interesting, I didn't know Brill made trackless trolleys.

Didn't Philadelphia operate trackless trolleys for a time as well?

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 12,893 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, September 28, 2017 3:56 PM

I think they still do.  But I might be wrong,  My understanding was they were out of service for a while but came back, just two routes or one-and-a-half.

Brill's last rail cars were the 1939 Red Arrow cars.  Then war work, and after WWII Trolleybuses.  Boston, Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco, Dayton, and possibly Philadelphia operate TTs today.

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,080 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, September 28, 2017 6:13 PM

Thanks David!  You're the man!

  • Member since
    May, 2012
  • 3,056 posts
Posted by rcdrye on Friday, September 29, 2017 6:38 AM

Seashore Trolley Museum's rebuilding of Boston Center-Entrance car 6131 continues, if a bit slowly.

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 12,893 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Friday, September 29, 2017 7:12 AM

A

In 1950, CE cars normally saw no use whatsoever out of Bennett Street Carhouse  (near Harvard Square).  Note that the car is still lettered for Boston Elevated!  Probably had not been used for while, or maybe was used as a switch-motor, and maybe the next trip after the photo was to Everette and the "Scrap Rail," under its own power of course.

In 1950 Bennett saw only Type 4s and 5s for regular passenger service.  Plus the Brill TTs for Harvard - Mass. Station and prewar Pullman TTs for  Mt. Huron Avenue and Cambridge Street - Leachmere.  Streetcars still ran to Arlington Heights, with cutbacks at Arlington Center and North Cambridge, and to Watertown and Waverly.  These and the Huron Avenue TT used the tunnel.  The routes to Massachusetts Station and Lechmere were on the surface, as they had been during streetcar days.

Today the division between tunnel and surface is, I believe the same, although the buses to Arlington Heights are not TTx, but do have special exhaust treatment to allow entrance ot the tunnel.  TTs run Huron Avenue, Waverly, Watertown, and North Cambridge.  Massachusetts Station is through routed to Dudley or its replaement, with no off-street station above the Green Line Massachusetts Station.

SUBSCRIBER & MEMBER LOGIN

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

FREE NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter

Search the Community