Harrisburg Railways Company

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Harrisburg railways token.jpg

Operating Name(s) Harrisburg Traction Company (1895-1903)
Central Pennsylvania Traction Co. (1903-1912)
Harrisburg Railways Co. (1912-1955)
Harrisburg Railways Co. (ATE) (1955-1973)
Area Served Harrisburg and "East Shore" area of Harrisburg, PA.
Operated 1895-1939 (streetcar service)
????-1973 (bus service)
Succeeded by Capital Area Transit

The Harrisburg Railways Company was a previous public transit provider to the "East Shore" of City of Harrisburg, PA.


In 1913, the Harrisburg Traction Company created a subsidiary named Harrisburg Railways Company. By the 1950's American Transportation Enterprises acquired the company. Under ATE in 1953, another subsidiary, Keystone Charter Service began operating charter services, and that subsidiary grew its reach further in 1962, by acquiring Bushey Bus Service and merging it with Keystone Charter Service.

Harrisburg Railways Company grew further, by acquiring the assets of the Valley Transportation Company, after it abandoned bus service to the "West Shore" of Harrisburg in 1970.

After the Harrisburg Railways Company claimed bankruptcy and becoming insolvent, the City of Harrisburg, and counties of Cumberland and Dauphin created the Cumberland-Dauphin Transportation Authority, and service was surrendered to its subsidiary Capital Area Transit in 1973.

Timeline of major events

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  • 1865: The first known public transportation line began with a horse-drawn trolley.
  • 1873: Harrisburg City Passenger Railway purchases the previous line operation between Harrisburg and McClay Street, and begins service.
  • 1875: Harrisburg and Middletown Omnibus Company was organized to connect Middletown with the trolley service.
  • 1888: First test run of an electric trolley by the East Harrisburg Passenger Railway.
  • 1895: Harrisburg Traction Company formed by a merger of Harrisburg City Railway and Citizens Passenger Railway Company.
  • 1913: Harrisburg Traction Company formed Harrisburg Railways Company.
  • 1933: Ten buses purchased to convert three streetcar lines to bus service.
  • 1936: Fleet numbers 421 (Conodoquinet) and 425 (Mahantango) purchased new. These two coaches were cut down after receipt, creating open-air coaches, used in parades, and some limited special charter work. The names come from two Native American tribes, that were based along the Susquehanna River.
  • 1937: Harrisburg Traction Company changes name to Harrisburg Railways Company.
  • 1939: The last Harrisburg Railways Trolley was operated on July 16, 1939 on the Middletown line some 74 years after the introduction of horse drawn trolley service and 66 years after the introduction of electric powered trolley service in Harrisburg.[1] A fleet of 135 buses were now available to serve Harrisburg and "East Shore" Communities.
  • 1953: Harrisburg Railways Company creates subsidiary Keystone Charter Service to offer charter services to customers.
  • 1955 Harrisburg Railways Company becomes a subsidiary of American Transportation Enterprises, a management firm based in Cincinnati, OH.
  • 1962: Harrisburg Railways Company acquires assets of Bushey Bus Service, extending charter services to places previously not offered.
  • 1970: Valley Transportation Company abandons "West Shore" service, Harrisburg Railways Company takes over to continue offering the service.
  • 1973: Harrisburg Railways Company transfers assets to Capital Area Transit.


This section is incomplete, you can help!

The Harrisburg Railways Company operated 136 trolley cars on slightly less than 75 miles of track. Cars serviced the City of Harrisburg, in addition to suburban communities of Oberlin, Middletown, Linglestown, Rockville and Hummelstown.

  • 2 - Second Street-Reservoir
  • 3 - Third Street
  • 5 - Rockville-Oberlin
  • 6 - Sixth Street
  • 7 - Hummelstown-Middletown
  • 8 - Paxtang-Steelton
  • 9 - 23rd Street-Race-Vine
  • 10 - Cameron Street
  • 11 - Fairgrounds
  • 18 - Herr Street-Penbrook-Linglestown


Streetcar roster

This section is incomplete. You can help!

Fleet Number(s) Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Motors Trucks Notes
35 1891 Brill
63 1902 Jackson and Sharp Open car.
150 1889? Brill Open car.
152 1890? Brill Open car.
618-623 1914 Brill Semi-Conv. BR 39E Order number 19467.
624-626 1916 Brill Semi-Conv. BR 39E Order number 19898.
627-631 1916 Brill Semi-Conv. BR 39E Order number 20158.
700-706 1913 Brill Semi-Conv. BR 27MCB1 Order number 19018.
707-710 1914 Brill Semi-Conv. BR 27MCB1 Order number 19465.
800-801 1916 Brill Semi-Conv. BR 27MCB1 Order number 19899.
802-806 1916 Brill Semi-Conv. BR 27MCB1 Order number 20159.
807-811 1917 Brill Semi-Conv. BR 27MCB1 Order number 20434.
812-816 1919 Brill Semi-Conv. BR 27MCB1 Order number 20814.
  • 815 made the last run of trolley service on July 16, 1939.

Bus roster

This section is incomplete. You can help!

Fleet Number(s) Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Engine Transmission Notes
200-217 1937 ACF 26-S Hall Scott
1936 Open air coach used on sightseeing excursions or parade use.
1936 Open air coach used on sightseeing excursions or parade use.
501-505 1960 GMC TDH-4517 Detroit Diesel 6V71N Allison VH Assumed to Cincinnati, Newport and Covington Transportation Company, 706-710.
601-615 1961 GMC TDH-4517 Detroit Diesel 6V71N Allison VH 606-610 to Virginia Transit Company 221-225 (2) in 1964.
801-840 1947 ACF C-36 Hall Scott
951 1954 Flxible/Twin Coach
  • First new charter bus for HRC.
  • Joint production of Flxible and Twin Coach companies.
  • Of 23 buses produced, 22 went to Brazil, unique in that HRC received 1 bus.
1001-1005 Twin Coach 38-SP Propane Unknown year
1006-1010 Twin Coach 38-S Unknown year
1041-1058 1947 Twin Coach 41-S
1101-1118 White [2]
1201-1210 1950 GMC TDH-3612 Detroit Diesel 4-71 Allison VH
1251-1265 1953 GMC TDH-4512 1257 is preserved by the Cincinnati Transit Historical Association.
1266-1280 1953 GMC TDH-4512
1281-1285 1958 GMC TDH-4512
4112-4113 1959 GMC PD-4104

Further reading

  • “Street Railways of Harrisburg” by Richard H. Steinmetz and Harold E. Cox
  • “Valley Railways” by C.L. Siebert, Jr. and Richard H. Steinmetz.
  • “Trolleys of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country” by John D. Denney, Jr.
  • “This Was Harrisburg” by Richard H Steinmetz, Sr. and Robert D. Hoffsommer
  • “Images of America – Harrisburg” by Linda A. Ries