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Presented by Linda Cunningham Fluharty.


DEDICATED TO MR. WILLIAM J. B. GWINN

     The obituary of William J. B. Gwinn follows. Conspicuously missing from his obituary - perhaps because it was not realized at the time - is Mr. Gwinn's legacy. During his lifetime, it is said that he amassed a collection of 100,000 pictures of trains and trolleys, many of which he took himself. His photos are an incredibly important piece of history! The photos show not only the evolution of transportation but the profound changes in many cities and towns, as well.

     A native of Summers County, W. Va., Mr. Gwinn, the son of William A. and Fannie (Richmond) Gwinn, is listed as a "Motorman on Street Car" in the 1920 census, Guyandotte District, Huntington, Cabell County, W. Va. He was 22 years old and his wife, Mildred, born in Kentucky, was 15. In 1930, William and Mildred were residing in Wheeling, Ohio County, W. Va. with their sons, Cecil W. and Vincent L. - William was working as a Motorman on the "street railway."

     Mr. Gwinn apparently loved his work and he memorialized his visual experiences by photographing them. All of his pictures are dated and meticulously labeled; the captions were written by him. A stamp on the back of his pictures says, "W. J. B. Gwinn, Railroad & Trolley Photos, 650 Main St., Bridgeport, Ohio."

WILLIAM J. B. GWINN

William J. B. Gwinn
Transportation Picture Fan W. J. B. Gwinn at his desk
with his picture collection of 17,000 pictures showing
one of the four drawers with the envelopes containing negatives.

(Photo from William J. B. Gwinn collection - provided by Linda Fluharty)

[Unknown Wheeling newspaper], November 4, 1976 - Died Nov 3, 1976.

GWINN, WILLIAM J. B., 79, of 650 Main St., Bridgeport, died Wednesday at home. He was a retired employee of the Co-Operative Transit Co. and attended St. Paul's Lutheran Church. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mildred Gwinn, in 1969. Surviving are two sons, Vincent L., at home and Cecil W. of Dayton, Ohio; four sisters, Edna, Louise, Vera, and Opal, and three brothers, Clinton, Herbert and Donald, all of Hinton, W.Va. Friends received at the Wilson Funeral Home, Bridgeport, 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Friday, where services will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. Interment in Weeks Cemetery, Bridgeport.

(Obituary provided by Phyllis Dye Slater.)


CAR #1

1865 - Bellaire Street Railway Company, Horse Car #1,
At the 47th St. Horse Barns in Bellaire, Ohio. Bellaire had the first
Horse Car line in the Ohio Valley running from 31st St. to 47th St.
A Ferry Boat operated from 47th St. over to 42nd St. in Wheeling.


CAR #1

1866 - Citizen's Railway Company, Horse Car #1,
North on Market St. at 12th St., Wheeling. Wheeling was the 2nd city in
Ohio Valley to have a Horse Car line operating from Bensons Ferry, 42nd St.
Wheeling to Martins Ferry (Boat) at First St. in North Wheeling.

(Photos from William J. B. Gwinn collection - provided by Phyllis Dye Slater.)

THE CITIZEN'S RAILWAY COMPANY

From HISTORY OF THE PAN-HANDLE, WEST VIRGINIA, 1879,
by J. H. Newton, G. G. Nichols, and A. G. Sprankle; page 203.

     THE CITIZEN'S RAILWAY COMPANY was chartered January 30, 1863 by the General Assembly of Virginia, (restored government) sitting at Wheeling; capital $100,000. Messrs. John L. Hobbs, S. H. Woodward, Chester D. Hubbard, Joshua Bodly, John List, Robert Crangle, Andrew J. Sweeney and Robert Irwin were authorized to open books and form a company. But it was not until the 28th of January, 1866 that the company was organized; and the road was opened for traffic on the 1st of July, in the same year. The main line extends from the Top Mill, at the north end of the city, to Benson's Ferry, in the south end - a distance of four miles. The Bridgeport branch extends from Twelfth street, across the suspension bridge spanning the river, across the Island, to the Cleveland and Pittsburgh railroad depot, in Bridgeport - a distance of one and a half miles. Some twenty-five men, fifty horses and eleven cars are regularly employed during the year for the conveyance of 800,000 to 1,000,000 passengers. The first officers of the road were John McClure, President; John Bishop, Secretary, and George Fricker, Superintendent. The present officers are Capt. Andrew Wilson, President; Van B. Hall, Secretary, and Michael Loftus, Superintendent.


From HISTORY OF THE PAN-HANDLE, WEST VIRGINIA, 1879,
by J. H. Newton, G. G. Nichols, and A. G. Sprankle; page 204.

PRESENT TRAVELING FACILITIES.

     It is no longer a problem how to get in and out of Wheeling. In the way of railroad facilities there are the Central Ohio, Baltimore and Ohio, Hempfield branch of the latter, the Wheeling division of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis, and connections by the street railroad with the Cleveland and Pittsburgh road, at Bridgeport, while yet another line is in contemplation. Boats leave daily, every other and third days, as also weekly for all points up and down the river and to connect also with other important rivers. Street cars run incessantly, early and late, to every part of the city and make connections with the ferry boats at the north and south ends of town, while the suspension bridge is one of the most popular outlets to the other side of the river, and is a privilege to inspect en route. And further, there are weekly and bi-weekly road conveyances leave the city for points neither on the river or that are yet privileged with rail communication. There are nine or ten excellent livery establishments in the city - some of them unsurpassed in the state for stock and equipment - and there are prospects that, in the near future, a steam "driving," or "locomotive car," will supercede the present horse power used on the Elm Grove street car track.


WHEELING TRACTION COMPANY

From: The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published by The American Historical Society, Inc., 1923; page 460.

     The Wheeling Traction Company has played an important part in advancing the civic and material interests of Wheeling and the Ohio Valley, progressing from the old-time horse car mode of transportation to an extensive city and interurban electric railway system, giving service of inestimable value to the public.

     In 1863 the Citizens Railway Company of Wheeling gave to Wheeling its first street railway service, consisting of horse-drawn cars which operated on wooden tracks. The line extended from South Wheeling to North Wheeling and from Wheeling to Bridgeport, Ohio. This service was continued until 1887, when the Wheeling Railway Company was organized and combined with the Citizens Railway Company. After this consolidation the lines of the Citizens Railway in Wheeling were electrified and electric cars were operated on the old horse-car tracks.

     The first electric cars operated in Wheeling were known as the Vanderpool [Van dePoele] type. The motor was in the front cab and was geared with a sprocket chain running from the motor to a sprocket wheel on the axle of the car. These cars could only be operated in one direction and it was necessary to have turntables or a "Y" at any point where it was necessary to turn the car. Wheeling was the third city in the United States to have an electric street railway system.

SINGLE TRACK

1887 - Wheeling Railway Company
34 Open type summer car at 42nd St. Car Barn in Wheeling.
That operated on a single truck line from here to First Street in North Wheeling.

(Photo from William J. B. Gwinn collection - provided by Phyllis Dye Slater)

     The track was constructed with a flat rail similar to that used on the horse car lines and was laid on a 6 by 6 inch wooden stringer with cross ties every five feet. Power was conveyed to the car with two overhead trolley wires, as no return was used through the rail.

SINGLE TRACK

1887 - Wheeling Railway Company
Cars "K" and "E." Katrina and Evangeline. At 43rd and Jacob Sts., Wheeling, W. Va. in 1887.
These are two of the Van dePeole type electric cars used by the Wheeling Railway Company.
Wheeling was the third city in the U. S. to have an electric railway system. Baltimore, Md.,
was first, on Aug. 10, 1885, and Richmond, Va. was second in 1886. Note the first type of
trolley wires and hangers used with wheels running on top of the trolley wire and cables
hanging down from the trolley wheels to the car. This system was doomed from the start, for
motormen had to exchange cables in order to pass.

(Photo from William J. B. Gwinn collection - provided by Linda Fluharty)

     In 1889 the electric railway was extended south into Benwood. In 1893 the new Back River Bridge was built and the electric line extended to Bridgeport, Ohio. The Bellaire, Bridgeport and Martins Ferry Street Railway Company was also organized and built a line during this year from Bellaire through Bridgeport to Martins Ferry, Ohio. In 1895 another company was organized and a line was built from Benwood to Moundsville, West Virginia. In 1898 an electric line was built from Steubenville, Ohio, to Brilliant, Ohio, by a number of Wheeling capitalists. In 1899 the Wheeling Railway Company was re-organized under the name of the Wheeling Traction Company, and it took over the interests of the Wheeling Railway Company, the Bridgeport, Bellaire & Martins Ferry Street Railway Company, which covered the lines on the Ohio side of the Ohio River, and the lines between Benwood and Moundsville. In 1901 the Northern Ohio Valley Railway Company was organized by Wheeling people, which company was later known as the Pan Handle Traction Company, and an electric railway line was built between Wheeling, West Virginia, and Wellsburg, West Virginia. Two years later this line was extended to Lazearville, West Virginia. In 1902 the line between Steubenville and Brilliant was acquired by the Wheeling Traction Company.

     In 1904 a line was built by the Tri-State Railway Company, later known as the Steubenville, Wellsburg & Weirton Railway Company, from Wellsburg to Steubenville, and about two years later a line was built from East Steubenville to Weirton, West Virginia. In this same year, or in 1904, the Wheeling Traction Company extended its lines from Bridgeport to Barton, Ohio. In 1906 the line was extended from Martins Ferry, Ohio, to Rayland, Ohio, and in 1907 the Bellaire line was extended to Shadyside, Ohio. In 1912 the stock of the Wheeling Traction Company was taken over by the West Penn Railways Company of Pittsburgh. In 1917 the West Penn Railways Company took over the Steubenville, Wellsburg & Weirton Railway Company, operating between Steubenville and Wellsburg and Steubenville and Weirton. These last named lines are now being operated under lease by the Wheeling Traction Company.

     The first power plant was installed in an old skating rink in South Wheeling, and in later years was moved to a more substantial building at Forty-second Street, Wheeling. At the present time power to operate the cars is largely obtained from the Windsor Power Plant located at Beech Bottom, West Virginia, about twelve miles north of Wheeling.

     The Wheeling Traction Company has kept up with the electric railway industries throughout the country, and today has on its lines double truck steel passenger cars of the latest design. On the interurban lines large center entrance steel type cars are used. There is operated daily seventy cars on regular schedules; in addition, freight and express cars are operated daily between Wheeling and Moundsville and Wheeling and Steubenville-Weirton. The track and overhead lines have been rebuilt and maintained in accordance with standard practice of modern railway construction, and at present the system comprises 101 miles of track.

WHG TRACTION

1 May 1925 - Wheeling Traction Company "Waiting Room"
Corner of 10th & Main Sts., Wheeling, W. Va.

(Photo from William J. B. Gwinn collection - provided by Linda Fluharty)

     The company has a corps of about 600 employees, including those in the transportation, track and shop departments. The shops and barns of the company are located on Wheeling Island, McMechen, West Virginia, Beech Bottom, West Virginia, and at Follansbee, West Virginia. During the year 1921, 27,000,000 passengers were carried on the lines of the company.

     From the beginning the local stockholders and executives of the Wheeling Traction Company have been men of representative citizenship and financial stability. Through the untiring efforts of C. P. Billings, vice-president, the service on the lines has been greatly improved and the fares charged by the company most equitably adjusted.


WHEELING AND ELM GROVE STREET RAILROAD COMPANY

From HISTORY OF THE PAN-HANDLE, WEST VIRGINIA, 1879,
by J. H. Newton, G. G. Nichols, and A. G. Sprankle; page 203.

     The eastern part of the city, and Triadelphia township assuming rapidly increasing importance - the latter particularly as a location for suburban residences - and Greenwood Cemetery being located on the main road, out in that direction, from the city, a number of gentlemen in Wheeling formed a street car company, in 1873, and secured a charter the following year - their intention being to run it through to Elm Grove village. The track was duly laid and opened, but down to the present does not run farther than the "Stamm House" and Hornbrook's magnificent park, though the company purpose carrying the road through in the near future. The cars run from the foot of Eleventh street in the city, about four miles out, and a pleasanter ride, through the summer, need not be desired. The cost and equipment of the road - including six cars and thirty head of horses - may fairly be quoted at $30,000. President, J. D. DuBois; Secretary, Andrew Wilson; the management being invested in a committee, of which the President is ex-officio a member.


THE WHEELING AND ELM GROVE STREET RAILROAD TRACK

From HISTORY OF THE PAN-HANDLE, WEST VIRGINIA, 1879,
by J. H. Newton, G. G. Nichols, and A. G. Sprankle; page 290.

     This enterprise was first organized in 1873, and received its charter of incorporation in 1874, bearing thereon the names of Right Rev. R. V. Whela, J. D. DuBois, John Reed, Sr., M. Reilly, S. Laughlin, Thomas Hornbrook, R. A. McCabe, J. R. McCourtney, John K. Botsford, Wm. Stamm, Hugh Clark, and George H. Parks. Power was conferred upon them to adopt either animal or steam power, but through the intervention of certain residents along the route, farmers and others, who feared the adoption of steam, that power was taken from them in 1877, but only to be re-permitted in 1878, and they can now adopt a steam dummy so soon as suits them. The road, though intended to connect Elm Grove village with Wheeling city has not, however, to the present, been out further than this point, to which we have arrived on the National pike, known as the "Stamm." Here the company have an excellent stable, with a second one in town, near the Capitol, where their chief office and waiting room are also located. On their three-and-a-half or four mile run between Eleventh street, city, and "Stamm's," they have other stations, while the general order of their track, though in some cases passing through fields, is kept intact. They have six excellent cars and some thirty head of horses, which make trips daily from six in the morning until half-past nine in the evening. The cost and equipment of their road, to date, may be quoted at $30,000, and the present officers: President, J. D. DuBois, Esq.; secretary, Andrew Wilson, Esq. Managing Committee: Col. O'Brien, George H. Parks, and the president, ex-officio. The whole of the lovely scenery named thus far under the head of Triadelphia District, and even far more, may be taken in during a ride out on these cars from town, therefore it is a matter of little surprise to see them, each summer, run to their fullest capacity.


OPENING OF THE WHEELING DIVISION OF THE PITTSBURGH,
CINCINNATI AND ST. LOUIS RAILROAD.

From HISTORY OF THE PAN-HANDLE, WEST VIRGINIA, 1879,
by J. H. Newton, G. G. Nichols, and A. G. Sprankle; pages 203-204.

     This road which has proved an inestimable advantage to commercial interests, was opened, formally, on the 24th of February, 1878, when about 4 p.m., engine forty-seven, with two new passenger coaches, baggage car and several freights left the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis depot, Steubenville, for Wheeling, arriving here at 5:15, and the next day returning at 5:05 a.m., arriving at Steubenville on time. Among those who went out with the train were Messrs. J. H. Barrett, superintendent of the division; Ross Kells, master mechanic of the company's shops at Dennison; G. L. Layng, superintendent of telegraph; M. J. Becker, chief engineer; Charles Mackin, contractor, &c. They reported the road bed in good condition and solid. Otis Newell, was telegraph operator at Wheeling junction east of the bridge. J. P. Kline was agent at Wellsburg; J. G. Tomlinson, ticket agent at Wheeling and J. M. Bellville was freight agent in the same city and remains in charge to the present time. The crew of the train consisted of Capt. E. Tait, conductor; Charles Wolf, engineer and J. L. Neeley, baggage master. As may naturally be supposed, all along the line the greatest curiosity was excited to see the iron horse come bounding through pastures green; the main points for special rejoicings being at Steubenville, Wellsburg and Wheeling. From that day until the present, the road has been singularly fortunate and free from accidents, owing probably, in no measured degree to the excellency of the officers in charge of that division. The business has not only increased immeasurably, but is daily increasing, while the line grows rapidly in public estimation.


WHEELING TRACTION COMPANY

From GOLDEN SEAL MAGAZINE, date unknown
by William J. B. Gwinn

Submitted by Phyllis Dye Slater.

     The success of West Penn Railway Company's lines in southwestern Pennsylvania made logical West Penn's obtaining an interest in railway lines in the populous Ohio Valley communities of West Virginia and Ohio. Both local and interurban service was operated by a dozen independent and consolidated companies. In October, 1912, West Penn's initial investment was some 102 miles of line in the Wheeling Traction Company.

     This company had resulted from the consolidation of four local and side-of-the-road operations in 1901. The earliest of these was the horse-car Citizens' Railway Co., chartered in 1863 by the state of Virginia (in which the town of Wheeling was then located). Cars operated within the city, and across the suspension bridge (which remained in service into the 1960's), to Wheeling Island. However, before this plan got underway, the Bellaire Railway Company on the Ohio side of the river was organized in 1864, and on October 17, 1865 began operating 1 1/2 miles of line between Stone Bridge and 49th Street, Bellaire. Rails were a means of local transportation on the Wheeling area from then until the last cars of Co-Operative Transit Co. rolled into the barn for the last time on April 14, 1948.

     Horse-drawn operations, at not much over 5 mph average, were very limited by miles and grades. But they did develop with the nearby towns in the next twenty-plus years; then progress elsewhere with electric cars brought an early Van dePeole car to Wheeling, with usage in 1890 extended to single-truck trolley cars. Within eight years, the single-truckers were grinding along National Pike (now U. S. Rt. 40) between points as widely separated as Wheeling Creek in Ohio, and Elm Grove, W. Va. This Wheeling-Elm Grove segment was operated by a predecessor of Wheeling Public Service Company, a firm that never affiliated with West Penn. In 1879, its horse operations were replaced by steam "dummy"-drawn trailers, and were electrified in 1898.

     Now expansion became more rapid in Wheeling, and up and down the Ohio River on each side. Upgrades on Ohio's Wheeling Creek, over the five miles to Blaine, were no obstacle to the successors of the 1888 Van dePoele cars. They had over-riding double trolleys, and motors mounted on front platforms, driving the wheels via sprocket chains. Such improvements required capital; thus Citizen's Railway Company merged into Wheeling Railway Company in 1887 for expansion and electrification. In the 1890's, lines already connected most of the nearby river towns. In 1901, the Wheeling Traction system was created by the organization of the Wheeling Traction Company, to consolidate the above-named companies and push the interurban network to its ultimate extremities: Steubenville to Shadyside; Wellsburg to Moundsville; Steubenville to Wellsburg. However, a gap in the west side route between Rayland and Brilliant, Ohio, was never closed.

     West Penn's purchase of stock control of Wheeling Traction Company in 1912 saw the beginning of its investment in improvements of rolling stock and facilities even though a $2,500,000 bonded indebtedness dating from the establishment of Wheeling Traction stood ahead of their interest. Cars were purchased in 1916, 1918 and 1924, along with continuous rebuilding of cars. Heavy track renewals were constantly being financed, and a modern car house was built at Warwood about 11924. Track costs were especially high on the east side and north of downtown Wheeling as dual gauge with three rails was required by local Wheeling Traction's 5' 2 1/2" (broad) gauge and interurban Panhandle Traction's 4' 8 1/2" (standard) gauge.

     Intercity line construction in the area encountered many natural barriers which could be overcome only with heavy investments in bridges, trestles, viaducts and extensive excavation of hillsides. This the small pioneer companies had done at great cost. West Penn tried to keep up good maintenance and strove to develop the service by arranging with connecting lines up-river to establish needed through service at attractive fares. It managed to bring about a through Wheeling-Steubenville service, over Panhandle Traction and Tri-State Traction. Much effort was expended to promoting the service. The 750-type cars (similar to the Coke Region's 700's) were provided with comfortable appointments and higher speeds, making the 23-mile "Interstate Limited" run in 60 minutes, 30 minutes less than normal local running time.

     World War I brought increased ridership to all lines, but costs rose even faster than revenue. After the war, the improvement of highways began as the automobile became a very serious competitor. However, West Penn poured nearly $1,000,000 into further improvements in the mid-1920's. In 1924 alone, Wheeling Traction purchased and placed in service 21 steel cars for city operation, and within three years rebuilt sixteen miles of track and 27 cars. For the 103 miles of track in operation, WTC had approximately 640 employees, 100 passenger and 5 freight cars. Although service was increased, WTC found that it hauled 65% of its passengers in four peak hours on weekdays.

     Four years later, the depression which had caused the wholesale permanent closing of local industrial plants had reduced riding by 30%. The 30-year bonds, issued when the Wheeling Traction Company was organized in 1901, were past due, and receivership was imminent. By then, West Penn had, in various ways, invested approximately $10,000,000 in WTC operations with no consistent return in any year. It met with a Wheeling Citizens Committee, advising them that while West Penn could no longer provide aid in maintaining area transit service, there was a need for it. West Penn suggested that local enterprise (rather than absentee ownership such as theirs) might successfully do the job if relieved of some responsibilities which had saddled their efforts (i.e., a heavy tax burden, street paving and other local obligations).

     On July 21, 1933 the property of the Wheeling Traction Company was sold at public auction to employees of the Company who had organized as a group called Co-Operative Transit Company. For $75,000, they bought a system of rail and bus lines which would have cost $15,000,000 at that time to duplicate. Eleven days later, they began operations which were successful enough that the full purchase price was realized within two years. Ridership levels were maintained during the remaining depression years. The operating rail routes remained unchanged until 1941 (except in the Steubenville area, where Routes 19, 29, 39, 49 ended in 1939). Now the strains of the WWII period brought severe wear and tear to aging rail equipment. In 1943, Co-Operative hauled 13.2 million passengers on cars, compared with 4.5 million using the system's buses. The end of hostilities brought on rather rapid conversion to buses, and the last line went out April 14, 1948 as the flooding Ohio River curtailed operations on Wheeling Island.


TICKET
(See BACK OF TICKET)

MORE PHOTOS, ETC.

1895 - North Wheeling to Benwood Line
1897 - Wheeling & Elm Grove Steam Line at Leatherwood
1908 - Caboose, Bridgeport
1912 - Benwood, W. Va.
1912 - Penna. Railroad Station, Bridgeport
1914 - Trainmen at the Island Barn
1917 - Summer Car, Main St.
1925 - Shopmen, Island Barn
19 Mar 1928 - Mound City Limited
6 June 1928 - Motormen & Conductors
15 Sep 1928 - Motormen & Conductors
1928 - Bridgeport-Lansing Car 61
1930 - Wheeling Transit Employees
1931 - Circus, 1931
22 Nov 1940 - Shadyside to Wheeling
1940 - Street Car, Bridgeport, Ohio
1942 - Harmony Hill, Benwood
20 Jun 1946 - Lansing Line, Bridgeport, Ohio
23 Jul 1946 - Blaine Line, Bridgeport, Ohio
26 Jun 1947 - Car #38, Norman Peabody, Operator, Island
29 Jun 1947 - Car #2, John Pierce, Operator, Zane St.
20 Jan 1948 - Bridgeport, Ohio
17 Feb 1948 - Market Street, Wheeling
Single-Trucker, Boggs Run, Benwood
Mound City Limited
1960 - Old Trolley, Chicken & Pig Pen
Wheeling Trolleys - Co-Operative Transit
House Stops Runaway Trolley
1936 - Co-Operative Transit Co. Shopmen
1917 - W. Va. Traction & Electric Co., Elm Grove
1906 - Wheeling, Bridgeport, Lansing & Blaine Line
1903 - Short Creek Bridge
1915 - Trainmen at McMechen Car Barn
1915 - Trainmen at Island Car Barn
1918 - Trainmen at McColloch Street Car Barn, Wheeling
1920 - Trainmen at Old 28th? Street Car Barn, Wheeling
1922 - Wellsburg, Bethany & Washington Traction Company
1931 - Wheeling Traction Company Officials
1920 - Bill Gwinn, Island Car Barn
1918 - New Wheeling Traction Company Car
Mozart Incline - 1893-1907
Cars Abandoned at McColloch Street
City and Elm Grove Line Car
Last Cars - Kulhman
Wheeling-Warwood line, Car No. 40
Trolleys - Miscellaneous


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