The latest installment in my Then & Now series takes us to south of Montrose Road where the Tenallytown and Rockville Pike trolley line intersects with Rockville Pike. The black & white photo was taken by Lewis Reed in 1910. The corresponding color photo is a Google Maps image, more than 100 years later. Matching the photos was a bit difficult as the location has changed so much, but you get the idea.
The Tennallytown and Rockville Railroad, which opened in 1890, was an extension of the Georgetown & Tenallytown Railway. The street car line was extended to Rockville in 1900 terminating at the fairgrounds. During the fair each fall, traffic was so heavy that two-car trains were run to accommodate the crowds. Later a further extension was made through Rockville on Montgomery Avenue to the Chestnut Lodge Sanitarium on the far side of town. In 1935, the Rockville trolley line ceased operation, leaving gasoline-powered buses as the only mode of public transportation serving this corridor until the Metrorail Red Line opened in 1984.
THEN: Tenallytown and Rockville Pike Trolley Line, 1910
In this photograph dated 1910, a trolley heads south from Rockville toward Tenallytown through open farmland. The view appears to be looking north and shows the area south of where Montrose Road intersects with Rockville Pike. The Pike is the white strip running diagonally behind the trolley car. The elevated vantage point, possibly from an adjacent rooftop or the roof of a barn, affords an excellent view of the rural countryside.
NOW: The Bethesda Trolley Trail
Today, the six-mile Bethesda Trolley Trail connects Bethesda and Rockville for bicyclists, runners and pedestrians, following the route of the Tenallytown and Rockville Railroad, the former trolley line.
If there’s an historic wayside marker on the side of the road in Montgomery County, chances are, one of Lewis Reed’s images is on it. From Trolley to Trail Marker in Bethesda is one of many markers in Montgomery County that feature images from Lewis Reed’s collection of photographs.
From Trolley to Trail Marker in Bethesda
Location: Marker is in Bethesda, Maryland and can be reached from Norfolk Avenue near Rugby Avenue.
Duplicate: Another nearly identical marker is located at the exit ramp from westbound Montrose Parkway to northbound Rockville Pike (MD 355).
Lewis Reed’s aerial photograph of entire original Reed Brothers Dodge dealership at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike was used in Maryland Farm & Harvest Season 6, Episode 606, which was aired on December 18, 2018 at 7:00 pm on MPT. The photo illustrates what Rockville Pike looked like at the time, during a segment about 97-year-old farmer Charles Koiner who grew up in the Rockville area. At 97, Charles still farms full time, with the help of his 72-year-old daughter, Lynn Koiner.
About the Show
Maryland Public Television (MPT) in partnership with the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has created Maryland Farm & Harvest, a multimedia series that puts a human face on farming. Hosted by Joanne Clendining, Maryland Farm & Harvest takes viewers around the state to see and experience what it’s like to run a 21st century farm – from technological advances and conservation challenges to age-old complications such as weather hardships. Maryland Farm & Harvest also captures the number one reason why planters and growers dedicate themselves to it all: their simple love of farming.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
The triangle-shaped property shown in the above photo was the longtime home of the Reed Brothers Dodge dealership before the site was acquired by the State of Maryland to widen the roads in 1970. At the time of Lewis Reed’s death in 1967, he was in negotiations with the State Roads Commission on the Commission’s proposal to take over a portion of his business property for construction of an interchange at Rockville Pike, Hungerford Drive and Veirs Mill Road.
After 55 years at the original location at the triangle at Veirs Mill Road and Rockville Pike, Lee Gartner purchased 4.37 acres of land from Eugene Casey and relocated Reed Brothers Dodge to a new complex on Route 355 at the Shady Grove Metro.
The state of Maryland named the connector street behind the original location, “Dodge Street,” commemorating Reed Brothers’ presence from 1914-1970.
The dealership’s location today is now known as Veterans Park. In the 1970s the site was known as the Francis Scott Key Memorial Park, and later in 1988, it was permanently re-dedicated as Veterans Park.
This special post is a collection of early trolley car photos that were taken by Lewis Reed in the early 20th century. I wanted to share them because they offer a visual history of a part of Rockville’s transportation past.
With photography for a hobby, one that began even before automobiles were around, Lewis Reed had amassed a large library of photographs of buildings, farm carts drawn by oxen, trolley cars, and other historic spots in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia. Many of his early photographs are now part of the Montgomery County Historical Society photo archives.
Below are some vintage (circa early 1900s) trolley car photographs from Lewis Reed’s collection (click on photos to enlarge):
The route of the Rockville trolley car started at the Washington terminus at Wisconsin and M streets in Northwest D.C., went up through Rockville along Rockville Pike and Montgomery Avenue to Laird Street and back again. From 1900 – 1935, the trolley cars went past Reed Brothers Dodge as they traveled up Rockville Pike.
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 this car barn.