Gettysburg Electric Railway

The Gettysburg Electric Railway was a borough trolley that provided summer access[8][9] to Gettysburg Battlefield visitor attractions such as military engagement areas, monuments, postbellum camps, and recreation areas (e.g., Wheat-field Park[10] and the Pfeffer baseball diamond[11]). Despite the 1896 Supreme Court ruling under the Takings Clause against the railway, battlefield operations continued until 1916. The trolley generating plant was leased[12] by the Electric Light, Heat, and Power Company of Gettysburg[13] to supply streetlights and homes until electricity was imported from Hanover.

Gettysburg Electric Railway
1904 Cope map - Gettysburg Electric Railway.png
The trolley line east of Plum Run extended to Round Top, Pennsylvania, through the Slaughter Pen, across Warren Av, through the Valley of Death, and across the north foot of Little Round Top to end behind the Round Top Station's warehouse.[1]
LocaleAdams County, Pennsylvania
Powerhouse: Gettysburg
Terminus: Round Top
  • 1891: Gettysburg Electric Ry Co[2]
  • 1895: receivership[3][specify]
  • 1897: Gettysburg Transit Co[4][5]
  • 1909: Central Trust and Savings Co. &       Railway Building and Operating Co.[6]
  • 1910: Gettysburg Railway Co[7]
Dates of operation1894 (circaJuly)
   – 1916 November 16
External images
image icon c. 1908 summer ("Howard") & winter cars
image icon cars near the cemetery entrance & The Loop[specify]
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML

The 94-passenger,[14] 14-bench "Brill double-truck summer cars" used the main line of 5.7 mi (9.2 km)[15] on 10-minute intervals and were powered by a 150 ft × 100 ft (46 m × 30 m) electric plant[16] with 150 hp (110 kW) Corliss steam engine(s)[17] driving 500 volt Westinghouse railway generator(s).[6] Employees included superintendent Hal J. Gintling,[18][19] managers Thomas P. Turner[8] & Harry Cunningham;[20] crewmen Charles W Culp Jr, Mr. Grinder, William Shields, George Hughes, Norman Murray, Reuben Rupp,[9] Walter Plank,[21] Harry Robinson;[22] conductors John Thomas,[23] William G. Weaver,[14] & Edward Weikert; and motormen Warfield Collins,[24] Mr. Emmons,[25] Gervus W. Myers,[23] Arthur "Ott" Shields,[21][26] & S. A. Troxell.[27][28]


Network map upon opening, as published in Oct.1893.

The Gettysburg Electric Railway Company was chartered August 4, 1891,[2] and incorporated July 28, 1892.[29] In January 1893[13] the borough of Gettysburg granted trolley right-of-way for all principal streets,[30] and the $150,000 bond was for street operations planned for July 1, 1893.[31][failed verification] The railway eventually secured rights-of-way for a route west and north of the borough to the area of the Battle of Gettysburg, First Day; but which were never built.[10][15]

Railbed construction began in April 1893,[32] and the electric power company was chartered on June 15.[13] Tracks were planned along The Angle's stone wall,[33] but instead the trolley used 8,400 ft (2,600 m)[33] of the Emmitsburg Road[1] on which trolleys crossed the Round Top Branch (the trolley was denied right-of-way on the steam train line in both 1893[13] and 1913.)[34] Beginning April 1, 1894, the trolley was extended from Wible's Woods[35] through Tipton Station to Round Top Station[36] (the line had 7 stops).[37][where?] A new trolley powerhouse of Hummelstown brownstone replaced[38] the original which had burned down by January 22, 1895;[10] and by October 1895 total trackage was 8.5 mi (13.7 km).[39] The 1896 Supreme Court ruled in US v. Gett. Elec. Ry. Co. that the use of eminent domain for historic preservation "seems" to be "a public use".[40]

Accidents & IncidentsEdit

In 1900, the trolley overhead power line broke at Wible's Woods,[41] and a car derailed in 1901[42] (trolley machinery was improved in 1902 before Camp Lawton).[19] Events in 1903 included an attempted derailment by sabotage,[43] a moterman struck his head against "an electric pole that was close to the track",[28] and the "Slocum" trolley car jumped the tracks on April 27.[22] A 1904 trolley struck Joseph Keagy,[44] and during both 1904[45] and the 1908 Camp Hays, lightning storms disabled trolley operations (a Major was struck getting on a car).[46] In 1909 the "Reynolds" car collided with an automobile,[25] and on August 12, 1910, a car struck a mounted Camp Gobin lieutenant. Three days later the "Slocum" and 1909 closed "Sedgwick"[47] cars collided (1 fatality) near Devil's Den[21] where there was a siding.[48] A heated winter car with a closed vestibule was acquired in December 1910.[49] During the July 1913 Gettysburg reunion, 2 trolley cars collided near Devil's Den,[50] and in September a trolley in the borough was rear-ended when a "drunken passenger" pulled the brake cable.[51]

The last trolley car ran in November 1916 when the railway had become obsolete both with disrepair[52] and with increased tourists' use of automobiles[9] on Army-improved battlefield avenues.[32] After 1917 Army appropriations, the tracks were removed by summer crews under foreman Hugh McIlhenny;[14] and plans for trolley extensions from Gettysburg were never completed to several cities:[53]

Baltimore Pike-to-Round Top route
This list is incomplete; you can help by editing it.
Intersections & Curves[61] Coordinates
Baltimore Pike @ Evergreen Cem. 39°49′12″N 77°13′42″W / 39.819868°N 77.22834°W / 39.819868; -77.22834
curve east of Taneytown Road 39°49′00″N 77°13′52″W / 39.816687°N 77.231151°W / 39.816687; -77.231151
south curve on Taneytown Rd 39°49′00″N 77°13′56″W / 39.816654°N 77.232299°W / 39.816654; -77.232299
original GNMP gate 800 ft (240 m) along PA 134[33]
"back gate", National Cemetery[62] 39°49′03″N 77°13′57″W / 39.817562°N 77.232454°W / 39.817562; -77.232454
curve NE of Zeigler's Grove
curve N of the Brian House
Emmitsburg Rd "Y of the trolly"[63] 39°48′57″N 77°14′14″W / 39.815809°N 77.237186°W / 39.815809; -77.237186
parallel trolley tracks
Round Top Branch 39°48′46″N 77°14′21″W / 39.812805°N 77.23923°W / 39.812805; -77.23923
Spangler switch (tract 17)[15] a curve was near the Spangler lane[61]
Peach Orchard curve @ Emmitsburg & Wheatfield roads
curve S from Wheatfield Road 39°48′00″N 77°14′46″W / 39.800137°N 77.246112°W / 39.800137; -77.246112
Wm Wible's "Wheat-field Park"[10] 25 acres (0.10 km2)
curve near 118th PA monument
De Trobriand Avenue 39°47.805′N 77°14.801′W / 39.796750°N 77.246683°W / 39.796750; -77.246683
Rose Run 39°47′40″N 77°14′46″W / 39.794565°N 77.246018°W / 39.794565; -77.246018
Brooke Avenue 39°47.609′N 77°14.727′W / 39.793483°N 77.245450°W / 39.793483; -77.245450
Plum Run 39°47′25″N 77°14′36″W / 39.790167°N 77.243446°W / 39.790167; -77.243446
Tipton Station walkway[64] 39°47′29″N 77°14′28″W / 39.791379°N 77.241169°W / 39.791379; -77.241169
Warren Avenue 39°47′31″N 77°14′26″W / 39.792001°N 77.240571°W / 39.792001; -77.240571
Sykes Avenue 39°47′40″N 77°14′03″W / 39.794579°N 77.234276°W / 39.794579; -77.234276
Wheatfield Rd crossing @ Round Top 39°47′40″N 77°13′56″W / 39.794425°N 77.232358°W / 39.794425; -77.232358
terminus behind Round Top Station 39°47′40″N 77°13′56″W / 39.794425°N 77.232358°W / 39.794425; -77.232358

The trolley barn ("track car house") at the SE corner of Washington St and the steamtrain tracks was taken over by the Surefoot Heel and Rubber Co. in 1920.[65] A pedestrian bridge was later constructed[when?] across Rose Run on the trolley rail trail between Brooke and De Trobriand avenues. Remnants of the trolley system were registered as historic district contributing structures of the Gettysburg Battlefield Historic District on January 23, 2004;[64] and sections of the railbed remain discernable in modern overhead images.


  1. ^ a b "Electric Railway" (Google News Archive). The Star and Sentinel. April 3, 1894. Retrieved July 15, 2011. Workmen are now digging holes for poles along the track of the Round Top branch of the Reading railroad from Round Top to the Emmitsburg road, with a view to the use of its rail as part of the trolley railway. The use of that track as a steam railroad--the purpose for which it was built and for which it secured its right of way--is practically abandoned, and it is turned over to a different use. … rear of the warehouse at Round Top station. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b "Electric Railway" & "An Ordinance" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler. August 4, 1891. Retrieved March 6, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Gettysburg Railway Receivers" (Google News Archive). The Philadelphia Record. September 22, 1895. Retrieved April 17, 2011. owing to sundry misfortunes and the embarrassment brought about by litigation, the company has become insolvent and has a floating indebtedness of upward of $10,000, which it is wholly unable at present to pay. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Gettysburg Compiler - Jun 14, 1898". Retrieved January 6, 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Electric Road Sold" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler. June 15, 1897. Retrieved March 5, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b "$60,000 Buys Trolley Road" (Google News Archive). Adams County News. September 18, 1909. Retrieved March 2, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Companies are re-organized". Adams County News. 2 (14). February 26, 1910. p. 1.
  8. ^ a b "Local Miscellany: Short Paragraphs of Happenings in and About Town" (Google News Archive). The Star and Sentinel. May 9, 1906. Retrieved July 15, 2011. General Manager Turner, of the Electric Railway Company, started the running of the trolley cars Saturday. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) (1991 Gettysburg Times)
  9. ^ a b c Weaver, William G (January 24, 1966). "Reminiscences Of Gettysburg" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Times. Retrieved February 28, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ a b c d e "Hoffer Sells Out" (Google News Archive). The Star and Sentinel. January 22, 1895. Retrieved February 24, 2011. Lease from year to year from the Gettysburg and Harrisburg Railroad Company of “Little Round Top Park” at a rent of $25 a year. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ a b c "Local Miscellany", "That Trolley Line" & "Base Ball Park" (Google News Archive). The Star and Sentinel. July 24, 1894. Retrieved May 9, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) NOTE: A baseball diamond was across the Emmitsburg Rd from the Codori farm on a former parade ground that had been used by postbellum Gettysburg Battlefield camps after the American Civil War.
  12. ^ "Future use of electricity is told club". Gettysburg Times. 61 (36). February 12, 1963. p. 1.
  13. ^ a b c d "The Electric Line on the Battlefield" & "The Electric Light Charter" (Google News Archive). The Star and Sentinel. June 20, 1893. Retrieved March 2, 2011. The trolley people propose to build a station just where Hancock was wounded. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ a b c Weaver, William G (March 28, 1966). "Reminiscences Of Gettysburg" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Times. Retrieved May 9, 2011. My motorman, myself, a colored man and a colored woman were the only people in the closed car while the open car was loaded. I was told at the time that the woman [sic] died at the R.R. station that evening and the body taken back to Baltimore that night. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) NOTE: Awful Trolley Collision (below) identifies the August 15, 1910, fatality was a man, "Nicholas Berkheimer", who lived on the Taneytown Rd.
  15. ^ a b c "Trustee's Sale of the Gettysburg Transit Company" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Times. August 18, 1909. Retrieved July 15, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Gettysburg, Her Past and Future" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler. March 26, 1901. Retrieved March 2, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ Stewart, Dr Henry (May 27, 1946). "The Electric Railway" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Times; Reminiscences of 70 Years in Gettysburg. Retrieved March 3, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "Town Native in Hospital at Age of 100". Gettysburg Times. January 15, 1972. p. 3.
  19. ^ a b "We Have Another Park" (Google News Archive). The Star and Sentinel. July 2, 1902. p. 3. col. 5. Retrieved February 6, 2011. The Electric Railway Company, under the superintendency of H. J. Gintling, is busily engaged preparing for encampment week, and the work of putting in new machinery is progressing rapidly. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) (p. 3. col. 1)
  20. ^ "Harry Thomas Cunningham". Find-A-Grave.
  21. ^ a b c "Camp Happenings" & "Awful Trolley Collision" (Google News Archive & pdf version). Gettysburg Compiler. August 17, 1910. Retrieved March 6, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. ^ a b c "Round About Town" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler. April 29, 1903. Retrieved May 9, 2011. The Case of the United States against the Pfeffer Heirs in the matter of land sought to be condemned will be called for trial. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. ^ a b "Out of the Past: 100 Years Ago" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Times; Out of the Past. July 17, 2001. Retrieved March 2, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  24. ^ "Six Hurt When Cars Collide" (Google News Archive). New Oxford Item. August 18, 1910. Retrieved July 15, 2011. Miss Ida Jones and Mrs. Annie Martin, colored excursionists, sprained ankles and ugly bruises. The accident occurred on the sharp curve between Devil's Den and the Plum Run bridge. … Berkheiser, who was standing on the front platform of the summer car was thrown some distance against a rock and rendered unconscious. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ a b "Seriously Hurt in Auto Crash" (Google News Archives). Gettyesubrg Times. July 6, 1909. Retrieved July 15, 2011. the large touring car ... struck the "Reynolds" trolley car at the crossing near the Den. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  26. ^ "Genealogy Report: Descendants of Jacob Tresler".
  27. ^ "Samuel A Troxell". Find-A-Grave.
  28. ^ a b c "Attempt to Wreck Trolley" (Google News Archives). New Oxford Item. May 22, 1903. Retrieved March 3, 2011. S. A. Troxell, a moterman [sic] on the electric railway … head struck an electric pole that was close to the track. … extending the Hanover & McSherrystown Electric Railway to Conewago Chapel CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) (column 2)
  29. ^ Adelman, Garry E; Smith, Timothy H (1997). Devil's Den: A History and Guide. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Thomas Publications. p. 84. ISBN 1-57747-017-6.
  30. ^ "Pennsylvania". The Street Railway Review. January 1893. Retrieved March 2, 2011. Gettysburg … Council has granted the right of way over all of the principal streets … to the Electric Railway Company which will build a line over the battlefield. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  31. ^ "Died". New Oxford Item. April 14, 1893.
  32. ^ a b Gettysburg National Military Park Commission. "An Introduction to the Annual Reports of the Gettysburg National Military Park Commission to the Secretary of War". The Gettysburg Commission Reports. Gettysburg, PA: War Department.
  33. ^ a b c "The Trolley Road" (Google News Archives). The Star and Sentinel. June 13, 1893. Retrieved March 3, 2011. The Reading's Round Top Branch, taken with the power of eminent domain CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  34. ^ "Medals for the Gettysburg Men" (Google News Archives). Adams County News. February 8, 1913. Retrieved January 22, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) "Railroad Blocks Trolley Plans". Gettysburg Times. February 1, 1913.
  35. ^ "Old Photograph stirs up Memories of Civil War". Gettysburg Times. September 28, 1985. p. 6.
  36. ^ "The trolley case". The Star and Sentinel. September 18, 1894.
  37. ^ Weeks, Jim (2003). Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and an American Shrine (Google Books). p. 76. ISBN 0691102716. Retrieved March 14, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  38. ^ "Reminiscences Of Gettysburg" (Google News Archives). Gettysburg Times. January 13, 1966. Retrieved May 9, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  39. ^ "Gettysburg Railway receivers". The Philadelphia Record. September 22, 1895. p. 16.
  40. ^ United States v. Gettysburg Electric Ry. Co., 160 U.S. 668 (1896).
  41. ^ "A Real Snake Story at Camp". The Pittsburgh Press. July 22, 1897. p. 4.
  42. ^ "Out of the Past: 100 years ago". Gettysburg Times. July 17, 2001. p. A10.
  43. ^ "Attempt to Wreck Trolley". New Oxford Item. May 22, 1903.
  44. ^ "All over the county". Gettysburg Compiler. April 20, 1904.
  45. ^ "Local Happenings". New Oxford Item. August 5, 1904.
  46. ^ "Three Killed at Camp Hays" (Google News Archive). New Oxford Item. July 30, 1908. Retrieved July 15, 2011. Yesterday afternoon Major C. C. Wiley, surgeon general of the Second Brigade, was severely shocked when about to board a trolley car. The lightning struck near by and he was thrown to the ground unconscious. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  47. ^ "Local News Happenings". Gettysburg Times. VII (85). January 26, 1909. p. 1.
  48. ^ "Trolley Rumors are Numerous". Gettysburg Times. VIII (289). September 24, 1916. p. 1.
  49. ^ "Adams County News - Dec 17, 1910". Retrieved January 6, 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  50. ^ "In The Big Camp" (Google News Archive). New Oxford Item. July 3, 1913. Retrieved July 15, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  51. ^ "Adams County News - Sep 13, 1913". Retrieved January 6, 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  52. ^ "Other matters". Adams County News. April 11, 1914.
  53. ^ "Washington to Gettysburg". Gettysburg Compiler. December 29, 1896.
  54. ^ "May put line in receivers hands". Gettysburg Times. August 8, 1917.
  55. ^ "No trolley this year". Gettysburg Times. VII (147). April 13, 1909.
  56. ^ "Gettysburg vs. Transit Co." & "Trolley Franchise Asked" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler. Retrieved May 9, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  57. ^ "Special Meeting of Council" (Google News Archive). Out of the Past: Fifty Years Ago. July 28, 1968. Retrieved July 16, 2011. Local Miscellany: ... One of the trolley cars jumped the track near the Rogers house during the heavy storm of Thursday night which delayed traffic at a critical time. ... proposition from the Mt. Holly Trolley Co. in regards to entering Gettysburg... Following composed the committee: Calvin Gilbert,... The construction of the road to begin on or before Oct. 1, 1908. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) NOTE The "1908" year indicates the events were Sixty years ago, as does the original 1908 Star and Sentinel article.
  58. ^ "Administrator's Sale". Gettysburg Compiler. August 16, 1892. p. 3.
  59. ^ "Great Trolley Plans". New Oxford Item. March 26, 1908.
  60. ^ "Littlestown Trolley" (Google News Archive). New Oxford Item. August 6, 1908. Retrieved July 15, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  61. ^ a b Map of the Battle Field of Gettysburg (Map). Cartography by Gettysburg National Park Commission (Nicholson, John P; Cope, Emmor; Hammond, Schuyler A). New York: Julius Bien & Co. Lith. 1904. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  62. ^ Weaver, William G. (February 28, 1972). "Reminiscences of Gettysburg". Gettysburg Times. p. 4.
  63. ^ "Took Work to make Camp Quay" (Google News Archive). Gettyssburg Compiler. July 27, 1904. Retrieved March 2, 2011. …the railroads siding which the Reading Railroad fixed up in good shape, better than any time heretofore… Opposite the Y of the trolly is located the Third Brigade … extending until they practically join the town in the Tawney field on Washington Street. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  64. ^ a b "List of Classified Structures". by "structure number":
    RR02: "Electric Trolley Bed". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved March 2, 2011. [rail] trail along Plum Run at Devils Den, runs N through Rose Farm & stops near The Loop. … Pair of cut stone block abutments over Rose Run, 5' high, 25' long & approx 10' apart. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
    MN807: "Tipton Boundary Marker". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved March 2, 2011. approximately, 7"x7"x1'. Inscribed "T" on top of marker. … rough granite with a "T" inscribed on the top. … at a corner of Tipton land purchased in March 1892 as part of the Tipton Park and photographic studio. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
    NPS02: "Old Slaughter Pen Path and Steps". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved March 4, 2011. used by [trolley] passengers … Path and steps are now used as a Park trail. … Path runs N/S from Plum Run to Sickles Avenue. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  65. ^ "Old "Trolley Barn" Will Be Removed Soon" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Times. April 30, 1965. Retrieved July 15, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)