Farm Collector

‘OLD DUTCHMAN’ TELLS STORY OF STREET RAILWAYS

By Staff

(from the ‘Passenger Transport’)

A brief history of the street railways, as told by ‘The Old
Dutchman,’ appeared some time ago in the ‘Patriot-News’
(Harrisburg, Pa.) It was written by Der Schwer Karl (The Heavy
Fellow).

The story, as it appeared, with the original Pennsylvania Dutch
in bold face and ‘English’ translations below, follows:

‘De schtross riggelwege waare emol en wunnerbaar weea far
reide. Ihre urschprung waare aw, schtrenglich
Amerikaanisch.’

The Street Railways were once a wonderful way for to travel.
Their origin too, was strictly American.

‘Gebore imme freih achtzeh hunnerts, ihre brauch hott
gschwind iwwerall de Welt gschpraet. Awwer nau sinn se uscht en
gedechtnis.’

Born in the early 1800’s, their use spread fast over the
world. But now they are only a remembrance.

‘De aerschtlich waare noch de alt poschdwagge gemoddelt, un
bein daamp gfaahre. Schpoater, de tziegich tzu laangsam, un derno
waare de drohteschtrick karriche aerschafft.’

The Werry first ones were patterned after the old stagecoach,
and were driven by steam. Later on, the pullingpower was horses.
But there were too slow, and subsequently the wirerope (cable) cars
were invented.

‘Endlich der lechtrich drallie, yuscht devor neintzeh
hunnert, waar gewachst. Beim Aerscht Welt Griek, es waar meeglich
far hunnertse meile vun schtadt tzu schtadt reide. Awwer se hen de
lewwer lichte vun mannicher mensche ausgschittelt.’

Finally the electric trolley, chust before 1900, was developed.
By World War I, it was possible for to travel hundreds of miles
from city to city. But they shook the liver lights out of many a
person.

‘Im alders, dart waare reiderkaare, packekarre, un
poschdekarre, un dale schtadlte hen leichtkaare ghatt. Oft-mols
waare de kaare im paare tzammekenkt, awwer menschtdeel hen so
eensicherweiss grange. Summers hen mer kiehl uffluftich
dralliekaare ghatte, un im windertzeit, tzunerkaare bei en kohloffe
kitzt waare.’

In the old days, there were passenger-cars, baggage-cars, and
mail-cars; and some cities had funeral-cars. Ofttimes were the cars
joined together in pairs, but most of the time they traveled
singly. In the summertime we had cool, open-air trolley-cars, and
in the winter-time, the closed-cars were by a coal-stove
heated.

‘Geschder hen mer de kinskinner bei autobus naus tzu
Haershey genumme far eener sehne. Behiedes, mer waare tzu schpoat,
sledschter hott fimf yaahre tzerick gschtoppt.’

Yesterday we took the grandchildren by bus out to Hershey for to
see one. By thunder, we were too late, the last one stopped running
five years ago.

On the way home Emmie said, ‘it wonders me for why the City
Councils don’t set-up one or two trolleys in the city parks
before they are all gone, so that the youngsters can see chust how
we were whirled around in the old days.’

‘Yah! Es wunnert mich nau aw.’

‘Yes! It wonders me now too.’

  • Published on Jan 1, 1955
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