Philadelphia & West Chester Traction Co.
Philadelphia Suburban Trans'n Co.
Interurban Cars #40/44

 

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THE COMPANY
Local transportation was rustic, although in many cities, the big uncomfortable four wheel omnibuses had been replaced by small uncomfortable horse drawn railcars. Streets were unbearably dusty or repulsively muddy. It was in this setting that a group of farmers and merchants living west of Philadelphia decided to do something about their own local transportation problems.

It was fashionable in those days to build turnpikes out of planks of stone and then charge tolls in order to make enough money for maintenance and a profit. The legislature gave its approval on March 20, 1848 for a toll road from West Philadelphia to Newtown Square. The Act of the legislature stipulated that the 10 1/2 mile road should be "up to 60 ft wide and could be built out of wood, stone or gavel, well compacted together and of  sufficient depth to secure a solid foundation." If the company let the road get into poor shape, local magistrates could force the company to cease collecting tolls for that section until it was repaired.

John Shimer had dreams of building a railroad along the West Chester Pike to his birthplace at Castle Rock. In the late 1880's. He started buying up as much stock of the turnpike company as he could get. Shimer felt the old franchise of the Delaware County Passenger Railroad was still valid. He incorporated the Philadelphia, Castle Rock and West Chester Railway Company on December 14, 1892. Trolley cars for the operation were ordered in the name of the turnpike company, but the carbarn and power house equipment were ordered by the Philadelphia, Castle Rock and West Chester Railway. Shimer seemed to attract legal problems. When the Pennsy got a temporary injunction against the Llanerch crossing, Shimer went to court and got permission to cross the Pennsy tracks. The injunction expired on July 18 and the crossing was finally laid. Shimer had anticipated all of this as he charted the Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company.

Pepper and Register had been paid partially in Traction Company bonds for their work in building the line from Newtown Square to West Chester. David Pepper contacted the Philadelphia law firm of Page, Allison and Penrose. Mr. A. Merritt Taylor had just been named head of the Real Estate and Investment Department. He was to sell the $1,000 bonds at $850 each. Taylor was an ambitious man and wanted to be part of this, so he bought his first five shares of stock on September 1, 1898. Taylor asked Pepper and Register to pay him partially in stock for selling their bonds. On September 20, he got 50 shares and received another 127 shares on December 9th. By now he owned 690 shares. The same year he became president. In 1900, Taylor announced that he would take over the active management of the Turnpike Company as well as the Traction Company. He arranged to purchase the entire Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike Road Company during the summer of 1899.

Taylor Properties were in need of a corporate simplification. The new company: Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company was incorporated on April 13, 1936. The Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company, The Philadelphia and Garrettford Street Railway and the Ardmore & Llanerch Street Railway companies were immediately absorbed. The Terminal Company was acquired in 1938 and the Aronimink Transportation Company in 1941. The Holding Company was dissolved in 1943.

 
THE CARS
Philadelphia & West Chester Traction Company cars 40 and 44 were built by Jewett Car Company in 1914. They rode on Baldwin type K curved equalizer trucks with 34" wheels. The cars were re-equipped with Brill 77-E trucks having 33" wheels in 1926. All cars in the 40 series had center arched windows on the ends which were replaced with a square center window in 1923. In 1932-33, their couplers were removed and replaced with improved couplers with anti-climbers.