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The Cars in the Museum's Collection and Their Stories

The Museum's conservation efforts focus on the preservation and restoration of electric railway equipment that once served a vital part in the lives of the people of northern Ohio. Where examples of significant cars that operated here no longer exist similar cars from other cities have been acquired as examples. Additional equipment in our collection includes other rail equipment from the same era as well as an assortment of maintenance equipment old and new necessary for Museum rail operations.

The electric railway era in Ohio (and other places) started in the late 1800's with the application of the electric motor to existing horse drawn street cars with their inherent problems of temperamental motive power and the resulting dirty streets to clean up. Powered by wires suspended above the tracks, the new electric cars were clean, quiet and dependable. At a time when most local travel was done on foot urban populations eagerly boarded the cars to go everywhere from work to the theater.

In a relatively short span of years the electric street car lines had extended beyond the city limits, passing through small towns and hamlets along the way and evenually reaching other far off big cities. These new inter-urban electric railways, or "interurbans," opened up new worlds to city and country dweller alike. In addition to moving people these lines provided a fast dependable way for farmers to get their perishable goods to market. Milk from Medina County, Cheese from Geauga and hay, hay from everywhere to feed the countless draft horses pulling wagons around the city's streets.

By the 1920's Cleveland was served by five major interurban lines, connecting it to a network of electric railways that spanned the south shore of Lake Erie from Detroit to Buffalo and reached south to the Ohio River valley at Cincinnati. But try as they might, most of the lines made little money. Bad economic times and the coming of Henry Ford's mass produced Model "T" took their toll and in 1926 the Cleveland, Painesville & Ashtabula ceased operations, severing the east bound connections. At midnight May 14, 1938 the last Lake Shore Electric car departed from Cleveland carrying the abandonment orders to Toledo and drawing an era to a close.

Enter the municipal Rapid Transit era. By 1954 even Cleveland's once vast street car system (now under city control) had been converted to rubber-tired buses. The lone survivor was the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit which had, for the most part, survived because it operated on its own private right-of-way unhindered by city street congestion. The Cleveland Transit System now had other problems. With the new freeways still on the drawing boards traffic congestion across the city grew and adding more buses in the mix did not help matters.

Using the Shaker's private right-of-way model and taking advantage of available railroad right-of-way from East Cleveland through downtown to West Park, construction was started on a cross-town rapid transit line. The elimination of street running also allowed the line to use modern subway-style transit cars with floor level boarding platforms, adding to their speed and efficiency. Both systems were reorganized under Cuyahoga County control as the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority by public vote in 1975. Operations continue to this day on both lines.

To date the following list of equipment has been acquired by the Museum in an effort to educate the general public about the important part electric rail transit has, and continues to, play in northern Ohio.


Operating & Restored Equipment

Electric Street Cars

  • 12  - Shaker Heights Rapid Transit - Center Door Street Car
  • 1225  - Shaker Heights Rapid Transit - Center Door Street Car
Rapid Transit Cars
  • 109  - Cleveland Transit System - Rapid Transit Car
  • 172  - Cleveland Transit System - Rapid Transit Car
Electric Work Equipment
  • 0X  - Shaker Heights Rapid Transit - Electric Work Motor
  • 024  - Cleveland Transit System - Line Car
  • 0711  - Cleveland Railway Company - Electric Railway Crane
Freight Cars
  • 100  - Ohio Edison Company - Railroad Flat Car
  • 499369  - Pennsylvannis Railroad - Maintenance-of-Way Box Car
Internal Combustion Locomotives / Car Movers
  • n/a  - Trackmobile TM5 Rail Car Mover
  • n/a  - Holcim (US) Incorporated - 10 Ton Diesel Locomotive

Restorable Equipment

Electric Street Cars

  • 25  - Shaker Heights Rapid Transit - Center Door Street Car
  • 78  - Shaker Heights Rapid Transit - PCC Street Car
  • 92  - Shaker Heights Rapid Transit - PCC Street Car
  • 1203  - Cleveland Interurban Railroad - Center Door Street Car
  • 1644  - Pittsburgh Railway Company - Air/Electric PCC Street Car
  • 2778  - Toronto Transportation Commission - Peter Witt Street Car
  • 4230  - Cleveland Transit System - Electric PCC Street Car
Interurban Cars
  • 303  - Shaker Heights Rapid Transit - Light Weight Interurban Car
Rapid Transit Cars
  • 112  - Cleveland Transit System - Rapid Transit Car
  • 161  - Cleveland Transit System - Rapid Transit Car
  • 201-202  - Cleveland Transit System - Married Pair Rapid Transit
Electric Work Equipment
  • 101  - Shaker Heights Rapid Transit - Line Car
  • 0518  - Cleveland Railway Company - Electric Railway Dump Car
  • 0610  - Cleveland Railway Company - Electric Railway Flat Car
  • 0611  - Cleveland Railway Company - Electric Railway Flat Car
  • 0615  - Cleveland Railway Company - Electric Railway Flat Car
Electric Locomotives
  • 2  - Toledo Edison Company - Electric Locomotive
Steam Railroad Passenger & Baggage Cars
    1088  - Philadephia & Reading Railroad - Wood Railroad Combine (visitor center conversion project)
Freight Cars
  • 2565  - City Services Pipe Line Company - Railroad Tank Car
  • 70573  - Illinois Central Railroad - Railroad Flat Car
  • 90960  - Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad - Wood Railroad Caboose
  • 419217  - Detroit & Toledo Shore Line - Railroad Box Car

Restorable Carbodies

Electric Street Cars

  • 83  - Lorain Street Railway - City Street Car
  • 588  - Toledo Railway & Light Company - Semi-convertable Streetcar
  • 1774  - Rio de Janeiro Tramways, Light & Power - Open Streetcar
  • 2318  - Cleveland Railway Company - Streecar Trailer
Interurban Cars
  • 105  - Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad - Interurban Combine Car
  • 149  - Lake Shore Electric Railway - Wood Interurban Coach
  • 151  - Lake Shore Electric Railway - Wood Interurban Coach
  • 181  - Lake Shore Electric Railway - Steel Interurban Coach
  • 1515  - Northern Ohio Traction & Light - Steel Interurban Coach
  • 1519  - Northern Ohio Traction & Light - Steel Interurban Coach
Electric Freight Equipment
  • 42  - Lake Shore Electric Railway - Wood Freight Motor
  • 464  - Lake Shore Electric Railway - Wood Freight Trailer
  • 512  - Cleveland & Southwestern Railway Company - Interurban Freight Trailer

Maintenance-of-Way Equipment

  • 0714  - Northern Ohio Railway Museum - Ballast Distributor
  • n/a  - Chesapeake & Ohio - Fairmont Ballast Tamper
  • n/a  - Cleveland Union Terminal - 4 Wheel Flat Car
  • 016  - Cleveland Union Terminal - Buda Speeder
  • 018  - Cleveland Union Terminal - 4 Wheel Tower Car
  • n/a  - Norfolk & Western - 4 Wheel Derrick Car
  • X003  - Northern Ohio Railway Museum - 4 Wheel Flat w/Seats
  • n/a  - Fairmont - Spike Remover
  • n/a  - Fairmont - Spiker
  • n/a  - Fairmont = 4 Wheel Flat Car
  • n/a  - Kalamazoo - Speeder
  • n/a  - Fairmont - Tie Inserter
  • n/a  - Portec - Ballast Tamper

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Last updated 08/11/2019