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National Capitol Trolley Museum 8/4/2018

by Chris Guenzler

We drove from Walkersville to the National Capital Trolley Museum in Washington, DC and went into the museum. We introduced ourselves and soon we were walking the display halls.

National Capital Trolley Museum

The National Capital Trolley Museum (NCTM) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that operates historic trolleys for the public on a regular schedule. It is located at 1313 Bonifant Road, Colesville, Maryland.


NCTM was incorporated on January 4, 1961, as the National Capital Historical Museum of Transportation, Inc. Progress was slow at first, but the Museum eventually combined efforts and streetcar collections with a group from Baltimore.

The organization found its first home in Robert E. Lee Park at Lake Roland in Baltimore, Maryland.

After efforts were thwarted by adjacent property owners, the group divided the collections in 1966. National Capital Trolley Museum moved to its present site in Colesville, Maryland, while the Baltimore Streetcar Museum was formed to focus on Baltimore transit.

The site was provided by Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and DC Transit leased trolleys for a nominal cost. The organization raised $20,000 to build a car barn. Groundbreaking of the Colesville site began on November 20, 1965.

NCTM's original intention was to operate streetcars owned by DC Transit president O. Roy Chalk, but it was not until 1970 that Chalk donated several historic Washington streetcars. In the interim, the museum acquired a small fleet of European trams and a car from Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

NCTM ran its first streetcar in October 1969, and since then the museum has operated consistently over its one-mile line.

In the winter of 2008-2009, the Museum moved into three new buildings: a visitors' center, a display building for the streetcars and a streetcar storage-and-maintenance building. Construction of the Intercounty Connector which crosses the Museum's former location, required the Museum to shift locations in the Park. The Museum re-opened on Saturday, January 16, 2010.

Education efforts

The Museum offers a variety of education programs and activities throughout the year. Each spring and fall, the Museum hosts school field trips by advance reservation. On some Saturday afternoons, visitors can also enjoy a story and craft time. Special summer programs are offered on Thursday and Friday from June 15 to August 15. Age-appropriate activities include story time and craft, story and hands-on experience with trolley artifacts and a role-playing exercise for older children.

Membership and funding

As of 2008, 125 members and friends support the Museum with dues, donations and volunteer service. The Museum receives most of its money from admission fees and revenues from its gift shop. Other funding for a variety of projects is provided by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, the Montgomery County Heritage Tourism Alliance, the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission and the Maryland Historical Trust. The State of Maryland, Montgomery County and private donors provided capital funding support for the current relocation.

Our visit

We started to look around these excellent trolley displays.


Much can be learned when you read these exhibits.

This image really caught my eye.

Trolleys have been used in many movies throughout time.

Model trolley layout.

A display of the Hagerstown and Frederick trolleys.

The Rock Creek Railway display.

Streetcars Only and modern display terminals.

Trolley rail display.

Glen Echo Amusement Park display.

We saw Toronto Transit Commission 4602 sitting out by the side of the building.

Toronto Transit Commission 4602, a joint project of Canadian Car and Foundry & St. Louis Car Company, built in 1951 in Toronto, Ontario. Elizabeth and I walked back inside the building and they let us in to Trolley Hall.

Capital Traction Company 522 built by American Car Company in 1898. The next ride was going to be leaving in a few minutes so we decided to ride it and see the Trolley Hall when we returned.

We all boarded the Blackpool Transport Services Boat Car 606 built by English Electric in 1934 in Blackpool, England.

We left the inside of the car barn and headed out through the trolley yard. Now sit back and enjoy a ride on Boat Car 606.

Boat Car 606.

We entered the mainline of this unique museum.

At the bottom of the hill there is a reversing loop to get the car pointed the right way back to the museum. We went to the left.

The trip around the reversing loop. We would now head back to the Trolley Car Barn.

Another view of Boat Car 606 that we were riding.

We returned to the inside of the Trolley Car Barn to see the museum's collection of trolley cars.

DC Transit 1101 built by St. Louis Car Company in 1937.

Société Des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles 1069 Les Ateliers Metallurgiques de Nivelles, built in 1907.

Capital Traction Company snow sweeper 09 built by McGuire Manufacturing Company in 1899.

Washington Railway & Electric Company (WRECo) 650 built by J.G. Brill Company in 1912.

Capital Transit 1430 built by St. Louis Car Company in 1944.

Rheinische Bahngesellschaft (RBG) 955 Gebruder Schondorff AG, built in 1928.

Société Des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles (STIB) 17, built in the early 1900s.

Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) 5954 Builder unknown, built in 1924.

One more view of Capital Traction Company 522. We all would like to thank the National Capital Trolley Museum for having us visit their unique trolley museum today. We then made our way to Interstate 95 north to our next stop in Baltimore.