Philadelphia Trolley Tracks: Hydro-Powered Trolleys


Increased Power for Trolley.

Electric current for the operation of [trolley] cars on the Schuylkill Valley Traction company's line from Pottstown to Chestnut Hill, was furnished Wednesday of last week [October 28, 1914] for the first time from the new plant of the Phoenixville Water Power Co., at Black Rock.

The new plant has been under construction from two and a half to three years, but is now complete in every detail. Charles S. King, of Philadelphia, is president of the company; Edmund S. Fritz, of Pottstown, secretary treasurer and general manager and W. D. Jones, of Norristown, superintendent at the plant.

The waters of the Schuylkill canal at Black Rock have been harnessed to furnish power for the plant, which will develop 3000 horsepower. The plant cost approximately $300,000, but in addition to this the Schuylkill Navigation Company expended upward of $100,000 in making repairs to the dam, which had to be practically rebuilt, and in constructing concrete retaining walls.

Current for the Reading Transit Pottstown to Chestnut Hill, passes through three sub-stations. On the first day 2500 kilowatts were supplied.

Some months ago the company met with opposition on the part of land-owners when it ran its high tension wires from Black Rock to Collegeville to make connections with the transforming station. An injunction was taken out against the company to restrain it from erecting poles for high tension wires, the petitioners maintaining that it would be dangerous. However, the case was finally adjusted as the courts upheld the company, and the work was completed.

The company now has a franchise to furnish light in the borough of Collegeville and there is a franchise pending in the borough council ot Norristown. The ordinance has been given second reading and no doubt will come up for third reading at the regular monthly session.

With the opening of the power plant, another step has been taken towards the through connection of the Reading Transit power lines from Chestnut Hill to Reading. In this manner current will be furnished this end by the Black Rock plant, used at the Reading end of the line.
Ambler Gazette November 5, 1914

One hundred years ago public transportation in Montgomery County was provided by trolley cars powered by clean, renewable energy.

Beginning in 1914, hydro-electric power generated near Phoenixville powered Reading Transit & Light trolleys in Montgomery County.
Located at Lock 60 on the Schuylkill River, three hydro-electric turbines sent electricity 4 miles to the RT&L power house in Collegeville.

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