It’s electric!: First trolley travels to Lititz in 1895

By on May 3, 2017
The Lititz trolley line was extended as far as Lititz Springs Park.

The Lititz trolley line was extended as far as Lititz Springs Park.

On Tuesday April 30, 1895, transportation changed for the residents of Lititz forever. For this was the day that the very first trolley on the Lancaster-Lititz “electric railroad” was put into operation.

As early as 1890, the idea of establishing a local trolley system was discussed when several citizens came together with this notion. Then by 1894, the Lancaster Traction Company would lease the Lititz and Lancaster Turnpike for 999 years. This company was chartered in March of 1893, an effort to combine and operate numerous street railways around the county.

According to the schedule, cars would made trips between Lititz and Lancaster 10 times per day. Departure times were 7, 8, 9:40, and 11 a.m.; afternoon departures were at 12:20, 1:40, 3, 4:20, 5:40, and 7 p.m. To ensure safety, speed was limited to only 10 miles per hour.

At first, communication lines between Lancaster and Kissel Hill were not fully completed, so passengers were transferred from the terminus of the Duke Street line to a point on the Lititz turnpike north of the railroad bridge in a bus. But riders and curiosity seekers didn’t seem to mind ­they were just excited to have the chance to ride this new invention.

On a typical day, a car would leave Lancaster city, with a round trip to Kissel Hill possible in “only” 50 minutes.

 A trolley travels along the Kissel Hill line. Steep hills were always a concern.

A trolley travels along the Kissel Hill line. Steep hills were always a concern.

Steep hills proved to be a real challenge for trolleys. To try to counteract this, traveling north from Lancaster, the car would make a right hand turn across from what is now The Shoppes at Kissel Village. It then wound through the countryside, eventually crossing over East Woods Drive. Next, it made its way down the short incline to the trolley stop (907 Lititz Pike), and crossed the street heading west. It then looped around the back of what is now Weis Markets, eventually making a left hand turn onto Broad Street. From there, it continued north into downtown Lititz.

Fares were as follows: to Neffsville 10 cents, round trip 15 cents; Kissel Hill 15 cents, round trip 20 cents; Lititz 20 cents, round trip 30 cents.

  The Kissel Hill trolley stop was located at 907 Lititz Pike.


The Kissel Hill trolley stop was located at 907 Lititz Pike.

Originally, the Kissel Hill to Lititz line only went as far as Kautz’s brickyard (once located at the corner of Broad and Marion streets). But by July of 1889, it was extended almost to the edge of the railroad line in front of what eventually would become the Parkview Hotel.

At one point, extending the lines north to Lexington and east to Rothsville was even considered, but these ideas would never come to be. One can only imagine what the strategy was for the cars to overcome all of the steep hills when traveling to these new locations!

While local electric rail did prove to be efficient (more or less), sadly it didn’t last forever. By 1938, faster and more reliable modes of transportation eventually spelled the end of the trolley system in Lititz.

Cory Van Brookhoven is president of the Lititz Historical Foundation and has authored several books on topics involving Lancaster County history, including Lititz. He welcomes your comments at coryvb@hotmail.com.

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