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Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage

About this collection

A collection of four hundred and eight 35-mm color slides of Baltimore Transit Co. and Potomac Edison streetcars photographed between 1952 and 1953 by Edward S. Miller, capturing a way of life that ended when the last streetcar went out of service in and around Baltimore City and its suburbs and on the Frederick to Thurmont line.

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Collection Location: Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

Contributor: Edward S. Miller

Baltimore streetcar on Wolfe St. in BaltimoreCollection Overview: This collection of four hundred and eight 35-mm color slides of Baltimore Transit Co. and Potomac Edison streetcars, photographed between 1952 and 1953 by Edward S. Miller, captures scenes of Baltimore City and its suburbs and of the Frederick to Thurmont line just before electric railroads all but disappeared from these locales.

In the early nineteenth century streetcars were a popular means of transportation, carrying workers to places of employment and families to schools, movies, and recreation areas. Used heavily as late as World War II when fuel was rationed and many people relied on public transportation to get around, the streetcar by the early 1950s had lost its battle for riders. The automobile, which had become more affordable and provided more personal freedom, and buses, which were more maneuverable and less obstructive, were replacing the streetcar.

By 1952 when Ed Miller took these pictures with a Leica M-3 camera, the streetcar, though still in use, was on its way out. Thus these pictures show a way of life that ended when the last streetcar went out of service -- in Baltimore in 1963, when the last streetcar was retired, and in Frederick/Thurmont in 1955, when the Potomac Edison line converted to diesel engine locomotives.

Photographer's Biography: Born in Danville, Pennsylvania, Edward S. Miller (1920-2010) grew up in the coal mining regions of Milton and Pittston. An avid fan of the electric railroad, Ed traveled and photographed streetcars wherever life took him, even working as a motorman for three years in Washington, DC and as a photographer for five years for Vulcan Iron Works, builders of Vulcan locomotives.

Ed's interests in railroads, particularly electric railroads, led him in the late 1940s to be News Editor of Headlights, official publication of the Electric Railroaders' Association. Ed was a founder of the Anthracite Division of the Electric Railroaders' Association and of the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. Beginning in the early 1960s he volunteered at the Magee Transportation Museum (Bloomsburg, PA), Steamtown (Scranton, PA), the Electric City Trolley Museum (Scranton, PA), and the Anthracite Heritage Museum (Scranton, PA).

Related Material

Harwood, Herbert H., Jr. Baltimore Streetcars: The Postwar Years. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Harwood, Herbert H., Jr. Blue Ridge Trolley: The Hagerstown & Frederick Railway. San Marino, CA: Golden West Books, 1970.

 
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