Fort Worth , Texas has a grand history as a transportation center in the Southwest U.S.A. commencing with the arrival of the Railroad on July 19, 1876 . An important article regarding Fort Worth 's history is Tom Martin's "Tragedy on Village Creek (Just east of downtown Fort Worth ), The Fate of T & P's ( Texas and Pacific Railways) Engine # 642". Also Fort Worth is the headquarters of one of the largest U.S. Railroads, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. In addition, The Texas and Pacific Railways beautiful passenger station in downtown Fort Worth has been restored to its 1920's grandeur.
History of NTHT
North Texas Historic Transportation, Incorporated's beginnings in the afternoon of May 5, 1995, a few hours before a very destructive hailstorm struck downtown Fort Worth during Mayfest. Earlier that afternoon, John Bartosiewicz, then the General Manger for the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, and Blair Lavell, then the Mechanical Superintendent for the Texas State Railroad, who was headquartered in East Texas, traveled to the Eagle Mountain Lake area (northwest of Fort Worth) for the purpose of inspecting two antique interurban trolley cars. They agreed that these two Fort Worth cars (car # 25 built in 1913, and car #411 built in 1919) were worth saving, not only for historical purposes but also to promote the new interurban passenger rail service between Fort Worth and Dallas . This new line was going to be known as the Trinity Railway Express and was scheduled to begin service in 2001.
Unless someone intervened, these cars probably would have been removed from the Eagle Mountain Lake property and destroyed. The Fort Worth Transportation Authority, known as "The T", would take ownership of these cars. Volunteers were recruited, the cars were moved to Fort Worth and restoration work began in the fall of 1995. A federal historical grant was obtained, which helped offset the restoration costs.
During 1996, as restoration work continued on cars #25 and #411, two smaller Fort Worth streetcars, #557 and #560, were discovered in the town of Andrews in west Texas . Both were built for, owned and operated as streetcars by the Northern Texas Traction Company. Volunteers, working on cars #25 and # 411 raised money to buy car #560 which was built in 1920.
North Texas Historic Transportation, Incorporated, (NTHT, Inc.) was created on April 27, 1998 as a Texas non-profit corporation, specifically to own car #560. At the same time, NTHT, Inc. obtained an exemption for federal corporate income tax under IRS code section #501 (a). The IRS awarded a 501 (c) 3 organizational designation to NTHT. This enabled NTHT to apply for grants from foundations, corporations and other sources.
NTHT was formed for the purpose of helping to preserve the North Texas area's transportation history. It is a wholly volunteer organization. Article four of its Texas Articles of Incorporation creates its future in stating; "NTHT, Inc. is organized to promote and further the general public knowledge and appreciation of transportation.by acquiring, preserving, restoring and displaying historic examples of such transportation."
Our efforts are not only limited to acquiring and restoring streetcars and interurban electric trains (cars #25 and # 411, known as the Crimson Limited). The broadly worded "historic transportation" allows us to accept all forms of historic transportation. The early concentration on restoring antique streetcars and the interurban electric trains was a matter of opportunity and a good place to start. We have subsequently purchased some of the cars from the Tandy Subway when it closed, and also a Stone and Webster standard streetcar, thanks to a City of Forth Worth Code Official 's efforts.
History of Streetcars in Fort Worth
The first streetcar in Fort Worth began operation on Christmas Day 1876, for the Fort Worth Street Railway Company. Streetcars of this time era were mule drawn. B.B. Paddock, on the first run, commented; "that the mule was little larger than a west Texas jackrabbit". The need for this line was brought about by the arrival of the Texas and Pacific Railroad six months earlier. The new line was constructed from the county courthouse to the T & P depot about a mile away. This line afforded a much smoother ride than that available by horse and carriage over the somewhat muddy and always rough roads of that day. By 1887, Fort Worth had between 160 to 180 mules operating out of three stables to pull the streetcars.
In 1888, a deal was struck to begin electrifying certain lines in Fort Worth . The following year, 1889, saw the first electric streetcars in the southwest. Electric streetcars, sometimes called trolleys, had replaced all the mule drawn cars by 1890. By the time of electrification there were as many as 20 different railway companies competing with the Fort Worth Street Railway Company. Some of these other lines included the Main Street and Union Depot Line, the North Fort Worth Belt Line, the Rosedale Street Railway Co., and the Arlington Heights Traction Co. As time passed, the Fort Worth Street Railway Co. was bought out and renamed the Northern Texas Traction Co. The successor company to Fort Worth 's original line eventually bought out all other competing lines in Fort Worth .
In, 1902, the Northern Texas Traction Co. (NTTC) introduced interurbans to their roster of electric vehicles. Interurbans are high speed intercity trolleys. Interurban service on the NTTC ran from downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas in less than an hour. The interurbans competed directly with Texas and Pacific Railway's passenger service to Dallas . In 1913, the NTTC started interurban service to Cleburne .
The development of the automobile and bus lines had a profound effect on the mass transit industry. The NTTC was no exception. Ridership of the streetcars and interurbans declined as the automobile increased in popularity. The NTTC fought hard to reverse their declining fortunes. The most notable of their moves was the introduction of the Crimson Limited in October of 1924. The Crimson Limited was the name given to the upgraded interurban service to Dallas because the cars were painted bright red. The trailer car saw the most extensive upgrades. The bench seats in the rear half of the car were removed and replaced with wicker chairs. The rear doors were converted to windows giving the car a "parlor car" appearance. Additional upgrades were implemented in 1927. Although the public approved of the new more luxurious trains and more modern streetcars, they continued to abandon mass transit for the automobile. The first streetcar line to be replaced by buses was the South Main line in November 1929.
The NTTC went into receivership in 1932. The once proud interurban service was discontinued in 1934 and replaced by buses. In 1938 the company emerged as the Fort Worth Transit Co. The last streetcar line, the Riverside line, was motorized in 1939.
Streetcars were brought back to Fort Worth in the 1960"s by the Leonard brothers. The Leonard brothers operated a famous downtown department store. These cars were old PCC style cars that were modernized to support a subway system that took people from a free parking area to their downtown store. This system was called the Tandy Subway and operated until August 30, 2002 . NTHT bought many of their cars and parts for preservation and restoration.
The modern day successor of the Fort Worth Railway Co., "The T", has been involved with NTHT on the restoration of two original Fort Worth trolleys for public enjoyment. Most of the restoration activity is supplied by volunteers from NTHT and "The T" has designated Lee Lavell as the construction coordinator. The money for restoration came from a federal grant. The first car restored, Car #25, is housed at the Intermodal Transportation Center on Jones Street in downtown Fort Worth.
Our official name changed to Texas Traction Company (TTC) in April of 2017, but our focus remains the same and volunteers continue to work together to achieve our goals. Volunteers currently meet on Thursdays in Fort Worth to keep Car #25 looking her best. Car # 411 is a beauty to behold in historic downtown Burleson. Volunteers continue to meet and keep her "spit-shined" on most Tuesdays. Either car can be seen by the public on any day of the week, but interior/informational tours can be arranged by contacting Robert "Gabby" Garbarino.