Title: New book on Wyoming Valley Trolleys by local author
Author: Staff Writer
Publisher: Back Mountain Community News
Date: August 2009
Harrison Wick will have a book signing and presentation for his new book, Greater Wyoming Valley Trolleys, at the
book fair fundraiser for the NEPA Genealogy Society on Friday, August 28 th at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble.
Greater Wyoming Valley Trolleys is part of the Images of Rail series by Arcadia Publishing, and the book is available now at local retailers, including Barnes & Noble, and online.
Greater Wyoming Valley Trolleys offers many rare Wyoming Valley photographs from the 1880’s to 1950 of streetcars, and images of businesses, churches, homes, railroads,
roads, and buildings along the trolley lines from the collections of rail enthusiasts including photographers Edward S. Miller and the late Michael J. Lavelle, Sr.
Electric trolley service in the Wyoming Valley, which replaced horse drawn streetcars, began in 1888, and lasted for more than 60 years. Greater Wyoming Valley Trolleys chronicles the electric trolley system, and the communities of the Wyoming Valley. The trolleys were a clean, efficient, and easy way to get around. Trolley
lines went through Ashley, Edwardsville, Forty Fort, Hanover, Kingston, Miners Mills, Nanticoke, West Nanticoke, Parsons, Pittston, West Pittston, Plains, Plymouth, Sugar Notch, Wyoming, West Wyoming, and Wilkes-Barre.
Harrison Wick, the author of Pennsylvania’s Back Mountain,
which chronicles the communities of Kingston Township, Trucksville, Shavertown, Dallas, Lehman, and Harvey’s Lake. He is the Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Harrison Wick earned his undergraduate degree in history from Washington College, and graduate degrees in history and library science from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. For three years, he was the Archivist at Misericordia University. Harrison Wick serves on the Back Mountain Historical Association steering committee, which sponsors local history presentations at Misericordia University in Dallas.
Title: Book puts history on track
Author: Andrew M. Seder
Publisher: Times Leader
Harrison Wick loves trolleys and he loves history. So he combined the two and has published “Greater Wyoming Valley Trolleys.”
click image to enlargeThe cover of ‘Greater Wyoming Valley Trolleys,’ a 128-page book on the history of trolley system, along with 200 photos of cars.
Select images available for purchase in the
Times Leader Photo StoreThe 128-page, soft-cover book has more than 200 photos dating from the 1890s to the 1950s. The book gives readers a rare glimpse into the Wyoming Valley’s history and the role the trolley system played in it.
Broken into four chapters – the upper valley, the lower valley, the West Side and Wilkes-Barre – Wick uses a photo of an individual trolley car and captions it with the history of the car, usually detailing who manufactured it, where the line ran and when it ceased operation.
Besides great views of the trolley cars, some photos also show great streetscapes from yesteryear, and longtime local residents will surely get a kick out of seeing long-gone businesses including Fairmont’s Ice Cream on South Hancock at East Market Street in Wilkes-Barre; Lehigh Beef Co. at the east end of the Fort Jenkins Bridge in Pittston; The Public Square Motel in Wilkes-Barre; and Smolok’s Grocery Store at East Main and West Cherry streets in Plymouth.
The majority of the photographs were snapped by Edward S. Miller and Michael J. Lavelle Sr., with others through various collections including the National Railway Historical Society and the Misericordia University archives.
“There’s a lot of local history in this book,” said Wick, 32. “It’s not just a book on trolleys but of the area and how it’s changed.”
Wick said trolleys began in the 1860s as horse-drawn streetcars and the first electrified trolley in Wilkes-Barre ran on March 19, 1888. Wick said trackless trolleys and buses doomed the trolley system in the 1940s, and the last lines, those in Hanover and Nanticoke, ceased operations in 1950. But it was another mode of transportation that really eroded the business.
“The automobile really took a chunk out of the trolley industry,” Wick said.
He laughed at the fact the country is gung-ho on a go-green initiative, but the trolleys were much cleaner than the fossil-fuel burners on the road today.
“The trolleys were extremely clean. Very environmentally friendly, but nobody thought about that then.”
This is Wick’s second book through Arcadia Publishing. Last year he released “Pennsylvania’s Back Mountain.” That too was a 128-page book with more than 200 photos. The book contains four chapters: Kingston Township, Dallas, Lehman Township and surrounding territory, and Harveys Lake.
It was his research on that book, Wick said, that gave him the idea for the trolley pictorial.
“Looking through the hundreds of photos Edward Miller had was just amazing, and it made it very easy,” Wick said.
Wick was born in Seattle and now resides in Indiana County and works at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He previously lived in Luzerne County and worked as the archivist at Misericordia University. He is also a member of the Back Mountain Historical Association.
Title: Book chronicles history of electric trolleys in valley
Author: Elizabeth Skrapits
Publisher: Citizens Voice
From 1888 to 1950, electrified trolleys provided an efficient and cheap means of transportation from one end of the region to the other.
Local historian Harrison Wick chronicles the final decades of trolley service in a newly released pictorial book, "Greater Wyoming Valley Trolleys."
Wick, who is special collections librarian and archivist at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said he has always been interested in trains and trolleys. Although people didn't realize it at the time they were in service, trolleys were "clean" transportation because they used electricity instead of burning coal like trains or gasoline like cars.
Wick got the inspiration for "Greater Wyoming Valley Trolleys" while working on his first book, "Pennsylvania's Back Mountain." He said he was looking for a specific photo of a Dallas trolley next to the roller coaster at Fernbrook Park.
Wick found the picture, which had been taken in 1938, and also discovered the photographer, Edward Miller, was still around. Miller, who had taken dozens of pictures of trolleys during the 1930s and 1940s, was willing to share his work.
"He lent me a scrapbook," Wick said. "And he said, 'oh, I have another 20 upstairs of the trolleys of the Valley.' I looked at them all and wrote the book."
Other photographs came from sources such as Misericordia University, where Wick worked for three years as archivist; the late Michael Lavelle Sr.; and the Luzerne County Historical Society.
Wick focuses on four parts of the region: the Hanover Township and Nanticoke area; Wilkes-Barre; the upper valley, or Pittston area; and the West Side. The photos offer a glimpse of a vanished Valley, when trolley tracks and wires zigzagged around thriving towns, carrying people to long-gone destinations.
"The neat thing about the trolley book is you can see what neighborhoods used to look like, see churches that have changed in time but are still structurally the same," Wick said.
Many of the trolley cars were purchased secondhand. They bore letter designations like "H" for Harveys Lake, "HT" for the Heights section of Wilkes-Barre, "LU" for Luzerne, "P" for Parsons and "Y" for Wyoming. Some cars were very nicely appointed, with leather seats, mahogany woodwork and electric lighting, Wick said. One of the stranger models he found was a funeral trolley that had a door in front for a casket.
In the 1940s, as the trolley lines were being phased out, most of the cars were sold for scrap. Louis Cohen & Son in Hanover Township would burn them and recycle the metal, Wick said. Some cars were sold out West, and ended up in places like San Francisco, he said.
"I bet there are trolleys that ran in Wilkes-Barre that are still in California," he speculated.
Wick said "Greater Wyoming Valley Trolleys" was fun to write. He's working on a third book about Luzerne County history, but won't divulge the topic.
"It's a surprise," he said.