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Complete map of historic DC trolleys

This map claims to show every local electric railway line that operated in the region between 1890 and 1962, regardless of who operated it or when it ran. That makes this much more comprehensive than DC Transit maps that only show one company’s lines, and only from a single year.

Some of the longer lines on this map are “interurbans,” which were trolley vehicles that functioned more like commuter rail than central city streetcars, stopping less frequently and running on longer headways. Today we’d probably call them light rail. They’re on the map because no matter their route characteristics, they were basically electric trolleys. That includes Virginia’s well-known W&OD, which isn’t usually called a trolley line today.

The map first appeared on wikipedia and was created by the anonymous user “SDC”.

January 8th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: commuterrail, history, lightrail, streetcar, transportation

  • http://lucre.livejournal.com/ Nick Clark

    It’s exciting to see this in the sense that it all feels possible again, notwithstanding delays on DDOT’s streetcar system that I believe was slated to begin operating in Anacostia in 2006, not long after I originally moved to DC. I’m still optimistic that once we unite our existing vehicles and tracks, things will progress quickly.nnAlso, there’s a lot of place names I don’t recognize here. I don’t know if they’ve fallen out of use or they’re just places I don’t go (well, if they’re the former, they’re probably both): Hatfield; Thrifton; Nauck; Norris Station; Contee; Lakeland.

    • http://twitter.com/beyonddc BeyondDC

      Nauck is still used, though it’s a small area. Thrifton is definitely out of vogue.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.beekman Kevin Beekman

        It seems to me that Nauck isn’t in the right location on this map.

        • http://twitter.com/beyonddc BeyondDC

          Nauck is in the right spot. What’s off is that Arlington’s border is drawn incorrectly to include a big portion of Alexandria, so it looks sort of like Nauck is in the middle of Arlington.

  • http://twitter.com/sumergocognito sumergocognito

    Do you know what the speed was on the interurban trains?

    • http://twitter.com/beyonddc BeyondDC

      No, but it probably varied a lot.

  • http://twitter.com/ranpuba Randall Myers

    What if we kept half of this? How much easier would it be for us to get across the region? Where does the purple line out of Seat Pleasant go? looks like its the WB&A line.

    • http://twitter.com/beyonddc BeyondDC

      It is the WB&A, which ran an electric interurban.

  • http://twitter.com/ajfroggie Adam Froehlig

    I think they’re missing some of the Alexandria streetcar on that map. I have the historic books now to where I can remap all the old lines. Just a matter of spending the time to do so.

    • http://twitter.com/beyonddc BeyondDC

      I noticed the lack of lines in Alexandria, but don’t actually know how many streetcars they had there. nnPutting all these into a GIS layer would be a great task for someone. COUGH COUGH.

      • http://peakvt.blogspot.com PeakVT

        I’ll do it… eventually. I’m in the middle of another mapping project so it may be a couple of months before I get to the streetcars.

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    i could offer a map for pre-electric streetcar lines. we have an 1880 map of horse-drawn streetcar lines in DC in our house.

  • http://peakvt.blogspot.com PeakVT


  • Deafdavid

    Some lines — I have hard time figuring out which streets they were on. Do you think someone would try to do routes on Google Map? Maybe with all routes as well as “break-down” routes (each line and all lines) from each transit companies?



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