Archive | Rockville’s Past Through the Lens of Lewis Reed RSS for this section

Here’s How Rockville’s Trolley Era Looked Over 115 Years Ago

This special post is a collection of early trolley car photos that were taken by Lewis Reed in the early 20th century. Trolleys existed in American cities before the Civil War, but a line did not connect Washington, DC to Rockville, Maryland, until 1900.

The agreement between the town of Rockville and the W&R Railway Co. ran for 35 years. From 1900 to 1935, street cars plied the track from the Washington terminus at Wisconsin and M Streets, N.W., up Wisconsin and then Old Georgetown Road, over a steel trestle just before the cars approached Georgetown Prep, through dense woods at Montrose and onto the Rockville Pike, through Rockville on Montgomery Avenue, to Laird Street, and back again.  The cars could be driven from either end.  In 1929, W&R ran 24 trips a day between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. to connect Rockville and Washington. Major stops along the line included Georgetown, Alta Vista, Bethesda, Montrose, Halpine, the Fairgrounds, Courthouse Square, and Chestnut Lodge. Six switching stations and side tracks enabled street cars to pass as they went in different directions.

Below are a collection of photographs taken by Lewis Reed that shows what the old trolley cars looked like, highlighting what riding the trolley car was like in the early 1900s. From wood-paneled exteriors with ceiling fans to advertisements, here’s a nostalgic look back at Rockville’s Trolley car era through the lens of Lewis Reed. (click on photos to enlarge)

D.C. Trolley Car Barn Wisconsin Ave

Western Avenue car barn for the streetcars that served the Georgetown-Tenelytown-Bethesda-Rockville line. Photo by Lewis Reed

A car barn is the streetcar equivalent of a garage for buses. It’s a covered facility in which streetcars were stored overnight, cleaned and given light repairs before the next day’s run. The car barn for the trolleys at the time was the second Western Avenue car barn for the streetcars that served the Georgetown-Tenelytown-Bethesda-Rockville line. It was located at on west side of Wisconsin at between Harrison and Jennifer. It was demolished and later replaced by a purpose-built bus garage which is still in use by WMATA. The National Capital Trolley Museum was instrumental in helping to identify the car barn in the photo above.

Leroy King described the street car below as one of Washington Railway’s majestic “Rockville” cars, at 4 switch in 1908. Note multiple unit jumper box under center front window.

Trolley to Rockville

Lewis Reed took this photo of a trolley 596 bound for Rockville. Note the cow catcher on the front of the trolley.

Traveling in snow was sometimes hazardous to trolley cars, as evidenced by the trolley pictured below which derailed the train tracks and plowed into a telephone pole at Montrose Road and Rockville Pike. Lewis Reed was there to capture the accident from two different perspectives using a five-by-four box camera which produced images on a glass plate.

In populated areas, street cars kept speeds to 12 mph (6 mph at intersections), but in open country they could get up to 40 mph.

Trolley Wreck - Montrose & 355

Derailed trolley at Montrose Road and Rockville Pike. Photo by Lewis Reed

Derailed trolley car

Derailed trolley through dense woods at Montrose Road and Rockville Pike. Photo by Lewis Reed

Rockville Trolley Car

Rockville Trolley Car 592. Photo by Lewis Reed

Rockville Trolley, ca. 1910

The trolley tracks met at the Rockville Pike among farmland between Old Georgetown Road and Montrose Road. The trolley in the center of this 1910 photo is headed south. Photo by Lewis Reed

Trolley tracks on Rockville Pike

Trolley tracks on Rockville Pike south of Sherrer Farm. Note that one of the young men is holding a bicycle. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1911

The Archival Producer for television’s most-watched history series, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE on PBS, found the photograph of the 1920’s trolley interior on this blog and asked permission to use it in the documentary, “The Great War,” a six-hour, three-night event, that premiered April 10-12, 2017 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into WWI.

All of these prints were originally made from a glass plate negative, an early photographic technique which was in common use between the 1880s and the late 1920s. The early 1900s were considered by many to be the golden era of early photography, because of its new availability to the public and somewhat simplified production methods. Many of Lewis Reed’s early photographs are now part of the Montgomery County Historical Society photo archives.

1920s Trolley car interior

Interior of 1920’s Rockville trolley car. Photo taken by Lewis Reed

Panels for advertising line the edge of the ceiling on both sides of the trolley. Instead of AC, the interiors were cooled with wooden ceiling fans.

1920s Trolley interior

Rare peak of the inside of a 1920’s trolley car and passengers featured in PBS documentary “The Great War”. Photo taken by Lewis Reed

Rockville Trolley Line 1900-1935 - Peerless Rockville 2002

Rockville Trolley Line 1900-1935 – Peerless Rockville 2002

Sources: Rockville Pike History – City of Rockville
History of the Street Car Lines of Montgomery County

Advertisements

Circa 1920s: Rockville Fairground Ferris Wheel

Rockville Fair Ground Old Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel at Rockville Fairground, circa 1920s. Photo by Lewis Reed

Forget Valentine’s, Happy Ferris Wheel Day!

Did you know that February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day, but also Ferris Wheel Day? This unofficial national holiday is held on this day to honor the birth of the inventor of the Ferris Wheel, George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. What better way to celebrate Ferris Wheel Day than enjoying this old photograph of the Ferris Wheel taken at the Rockville Fairgrounds, courtesy of Lewis Reed. The fairgrounds were just outside Rockville, about where Richard Montgomery High School is today. The Fair lasted four days, from August 21st to the 24th, and drew visitors from local counties, Washington, and Baltimore.

For the singles and the “enough already with the Valentines”, here is your perfect alternative excuse. Go wish all your friends and family a Happy Ferris Wheel Day!

Rockville 1912: Vinson’s Drug Store

Vinson's Drug Store 1912 Rockville

1912 – Vinson’s Drug Store, Rockville, Maryland. Photo by Lewis Reed

This 1912 photograph taken by Lewis Reed depicts Vinson’s Drug Store in downtown Rockville. This post is a part of the blog feature called, “Rockville’s Past Through the Lens of Lewis Reed”. Lewis Reed was a well-known photographer in the county and many of his early photographs are now part of the Montgomery County Historical Society photo archives. I wanted to share this photograph, because it offers a visual history of a part of Rockville’s past taken more than 100 years ago.

Previous to Edgar Reed’s enlistment in World War I, he had been employed as a clerk by R.W. Vinson Drug Store for eight years. In 1919, Edgar became a partner with his brother, Lewis Reed, in the firm Reed Brothers Dodge.

The drugstore was built in the 1880s and was run by Robert William “Doc” Vinson from 1900 until his death in 1958. A document on the Rockville website says the drugstore was also a popular gathering place for city politicians, and that President Woodrow Wilson once personally traveled there to buy Wolfhound tablets. The building was torn down in 1962, and replaced with an office building during Rockville’s “urban renewal”.

Source: County Seat to Satellite City of the Nations’ Capital: 1931

 

Derailed Trolley: Montrose Rd & Rt 355

Derailed trolley - Montrose & 355

Derailed trolley at Montrose Road and Rockville Pike. Photo by Lewis Reed

This special post is a part of the blog feature called, “Rockville’s Past Through the Lens of Lewis Reed”.  I wanted to share these photographs, because they offer a visual history of a part of Rockville’s transportation past.

Traveling in snow was sometimes hazardous to trolley cars, as evidenced by this trolley which derailed the train tracks and plowed into a telephone pole at Montrose Road and Rockville Pike. Lewis Reed was there to capture the accident from two different perspectives using a five-by-four box camera which produced images on a glass plate.

In populated areas, street cars kept speeds to 12 mph (6 mph at intersections), but in open country they could get up to 40 mph.

Derailed trolley - Montrose & 355

Derailed trolley through dense woods at Montrose Road and Rockville Pike. Photo by Lewis Reed

Lewis Reed Photos: Rockville’s First Water Tower

Rockville MD Water Tower 1899

1906 historic view of Rockville Maryland’s first pipestem water tower. (1897-1946)
Photograph by Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge

This 1906 photograph taken by Lewis Reed depicts Rockville Maryland’s very first water tower. I wanted to share this photograph, because it offers a visual history for its role in the development of public utilities in the City of Rockville. My grandfather picked up the hobby of photography even before automobiles were around. He was a well-known photographer in the county and many of his early photographs are now part of the Montgomery County Historical Society photo archives.

Rockville Site Tower at Rockville Grade Crossing Baltimore Rd 1909

View of Rockville Water Tower and Baltimore Road B&O Railroad Crossing circa 1909. Photo by Lewis Reed

Rockville Water Tower

Another view of Rockville Water Tower. Photo by Lewis Reed

The pipestem tower was an element of the 1897 pumping station known as the “Rockville Electric Lights and Water Works,” located in Rockville Park and the future Croydon Park. In the 1890s, Rockville grew both as a resort and as a town. With substantial residential appeal, the need for services grew. In about 1899, Rockville got its first water tower at a cost of about $20,000. Its construction signaled the dawn of local municipal water service. Prior to the tower’s construction water in the city was primarily drawn from private wells. Concern for water quality in the 1880s led to the decision to develop a municipal system. The stand pipe was a typical shape for a water tower at the turn of the century. From this high point, water could be piped throughout the town. The chimney stack originally extended to a height of 50’, as documented in the Sanborn maps 1908, 1915.

Rockville Pumping Station, circa 1912. Photo by Lewis Reed

Rockville Pump House, circa 1912. Photo by Lewis Reed

Built in 1879, the Pump House at Croydon Park is a historic building in Rockville and the site of the first municipal water supply. Once known as the “Rockville Electric Lights & Water Works.” the building was the City’s first public water system and supplier of electricity for street lights and private homes.

Sources:
National Register of Historic Places, Rockville Pumping Station
Peerless Rockville

 

%d bloggers like this: