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First Electric Street Car in Wheeling

Transportation in Wheeling Icon

▼ Newspaper Article: First Electric Street Car

 - from the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, March 16, 1888


The Cars Make their First Trips Over the Track.

The running of the street cars in this city by electricity is no longer a matter of doubt or experiment; it is a sure and successful thing. Yesterday afternoon the Wheeling Railway Company put one of its cars on the tracks, the power was applied and the car moved up and down Main street, the center of attraction for hundreds of citizens who gathered along the route to watch the car make its trial trip. Everything worked remarkably smooth and satisfactorily for a first trip, and the company's officials were more than pleased with the manner in which things went off.


The car was started from the corner of Main and Twenty-seventh streets. A number of gentlemen had been invited to make this first trip and the car was well filled.

Among those on board were: Colonel J. A. Miller, John G. Hoffmann, sr., John G. Hoffmann, jr., Chris Hess, Hon. Jacob W. Grubb, Ed W. Wells, B. A. Galligan, Rev. Father Schilp, Chris Viewig, James K. Hall, John Garden, an INTELLIGENCER representative and a number of others. The car was the "Geraldine." The company will not have its cars numbered but will give them names of women, the initials being in alphabetical order, the first letters thus serving as numbers. The two cars the company has already received are the "Fidelia" and "Geraldine." Five more are expected to arrive in short time. The cars are handsome affairs, fitted up in the most elegant manner.

As the car moved along the crowd grew larger till it numbered two or three hundred. Men came out of their houses and windows flew up on every side.


As the car moved along those in [?] breathed freer. Suddenly Chris Veiwig jumped up and jammed a nickel down into the fare-box, and proudly proclaimed himself the first man to pay fare on the new road. Ed Wells, Father Schilp, Mr. Hess, and ex-Mayor Grubb were the next in order, and then there was a wild scramble to pay fares on the new road.

At Twenty-second street a stop was made to take on Mayor Seabright and President Myles, of the Board of Public Works. They refused to "dead-head" it and insisted on paying fare.

By this time the crowd following was something enormous, and seemed to frighten horses worse than the new car. A number of horses were met, but beyond shying a little they did not behave at all badly. The heavy car made much less noise than was expected. the only really unusual sound was made by the wheels traveling on the wires overhead, through which the power was transmitted. In crossing Main street bridge the front wheels jumped the track, but a hundred hands soon had the car on again. Up through the business part of Main street the sidewalks were jammed. Arriving at Twelfth street the car was stopped; Mr. Sheoff did not care to risk running up the hill till he had loosened the running gear on level ground. A short stop was made to enable citizens to inspect the car and then it was run back.


Late last night more trips were made and Main street hill run up and down repeatedly. The electric lights in the cars were also fitted in and lighted. Cars will be running from Tenth street to Twenty-seventh in a few days, as soon as a turn table is put in at Twenty-seventh street, and as soon as the weather will permit the building of the balance of the track, cars will he run over tho entire line. The two dynamos at the station with a joint power equal to 160 horse power have been running for several days and are in complete order. The motors on the cars are each of 15 horse power, but it is seldom that more than 10 horse power, if even that, will be necessary to run a car. Everyone is pleased with yesterday's exhibition and Wheeling's advancement is again marked.


(The first report of a person to be struck by an electric street car happened only five days later, March 20, 1888.) 

- from The Wheeling daily Intelligencer, March 21, 1888.

A boy whose name none of the bystanders knew was knocked down by being struck by the electrical street car in front of the Exchange Bank last evening. He attempted to cross too close to the motor, and an express wagon passing unexpectedly stopped him. He escaped without serious injury.

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