“Fun is where you find it, where do you find it? Glen Echo Amusement Park!”
-1950’s jingle for Glen Echo Park
So I am sitting here next to the remains of the Crystal Pool and Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Maryland listening to a Buddy Holly tribute band play rockabilly tunes on stage after listing to a Latvian band singing folk songs from their country. What has this got to with trolleys and traction you might ask? Everything. I am sitting at ground zero of a streetcar park. One of the most well known in the United States. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of the Cabin John Line. And all around me is evidence of what traction brought to the people several generations ago. A fun weekend after a long week of the daily grind. You could forget your troubles by riding the rides or going dancing all brought to you by a scenic trip through the wilds green woods and countryside of Maryland in what was called by the developers “the Rhineland of the Potomac”. Even better, courtesy of your tax dollars you can see one of the streetcar bridges that has been restored as a hiker/biker path. If you feel more advent ours you could follow the trail down to DC and see even more parts of the line. And what a better way to kick off this column then sitting enjoying live music at a concert.
This is something that I have been kicking around the world of Ntrak for years. That is for some reason outside of Ncat, trolleys, traction, interurbans, subways and such have been always regarded as some sort of oddity, perhaps even like someones drunk uncle. Not much is written about it. No regular columns are devoted to it in magazines. There is something always on Nn3, but nothing on trolleys. It always seems to be elusive though we are surrounded by the means to get a really nice traction empire built. And for the price of an Nn3 locomotive, you could buy a whole fleet of streetcars. And no they are more then just “Buses on Wheels”!
And so we come to now. Hopefully in the upcoming months we will show that it is not hard to get into traction. It is a varied as the rest of the railways out there. We will talk about availability of stuff. The shapeways revolution. Also for people that only do ultramodern, you gots lots to model. LRV’s, street hugger s, centipedes. Modern, efficient people movers. We will also talk about planning layouts in both light and heavy traction as well as subways and elevated. And probably have lots of history added in. Research is as important with this part of the hobby as well as any other aspect and things have their own jargon. Know a Box Motor from a PCC. What does a portable substation do anyway. And also learn that your car barn’s not possessed by the devil. Just the stairs. And also what the heck is a plough on a streetcar, and for that matter, a retriever. And how far does one get on this token anyway. Also want to write something, feel free. Plenty of room on this trolley cause it’s a local. Just don’t take the #5 line.
So my dear friends all will be reveled (reviled?) in future columns. So all aboard. Please pay the conductor as you enter the car. Do not talk to the motorman. You know it is cheaper to by a weekly pass anyway. Watch your step!
As we say good bye from the banks of the C&O canal… Oh gotta rush, I heard they were going to sing sea shanties at the other stage.