The Glen Echo Trolley Line


In a continuing effort to fill the Internet with all sorts of inane and useless information, I am adding this page to document what little is left of the Glen Echo trolley line, which ran from Washington, DC to (where else?) Glen Echo, Maryland.

While riding my bicycle along MacArthur Boulevard in November, 2010 and again in January, 2012 I noticed that the remains of several trestles are visible from the road. It did not take too much remembering to associate them with the DC Transit streetcar line that ran to Glen Echo. (yes, I am old enough to remember!)

What I will document here are the remains that are visible at the following locations:

But first, a little about Glen Echo.

Glen Echo

According to the National Park Service website, "Glen Echo Park began in 1891 as a National Chautauqua Assembly, which taught the sciences, arts, languages, and literature. By the early 1900's Glen Echo Park had become the premier amusement park serving the Washington area until 1968. In 1971, after the federal government obtained the land, the National Park Service began managing the park." Several of the highlights of Glen Echo are the Spanish Ballroom (which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and where dances are still held) and the beautifully restored 1921 Dentzel Carousel.

However, for the purposes of this page, the front gate of Glen Echo had a streetcar similar to those that ran to the park. The streetcar has since been sold and removed from the site.

Riders from Washington would arrive on the tracks closest to the photographer (me). Passenger returning to Washington would board the streetcar where it is shown.

trestle

As can be seen, the car is in need of a "touch-up". A real Capital transit street car is in the National Capital Trolley Museum in Colesville, Md.

If you are in the Roanoke, VA area, stop by the Virginia Museum of Transportation where a REAL DC Transit street car is on display.



Note that the tracks are still embedded in the concrete.

trestle
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Wilson Lane

About 3/4 mile west on MacArthur Blvd. is the Union Arch bridge, which crosses Cabin John Creek. Just before the bridge is a parking area from which you can see 2 relics of the trolley line; the turn-around and a trestle at Wilson Lane.

If you walk to the trail going down to the Clara Barton Parkway, and then bear to the left, you will come to the roadway used by the trolley.
If you look to the right, you will see the roadbed swing around to the left, forming a loop. About 75 yards down the trail, you can see (barely) where the trolley would rejoin the main roadway from the right. This loop was used to turn the trolleys around for the return trip to Glen Echo, and then to Washington.

trestle

Opposite the intersection of Wilson Lane with MacArthur Boulevard you can see the remains of one of the many trestles on the trolley line.
This trestle (as well as all the others has access blocked with fences. At this point (2012) I think that the only thing holding these structures up is the rust on the supports!

trestle
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Glen Echo

Just west of the parking area for Glen Echo are the remains of a trestle over Minnehaha Branch. The trestle is visible during the winter, when the foliage is gone. During the year when the trees are leafed, you can walk right by it and not see it (as I have many times!). The trestle is also visible and accessible from the parking area at the Clara Barton site, just west of Glen Echo.

The trestle is visible from western most parking area at Glen Echo (just before the circle on MacArthur Blvd.
From this site you can also see Minnehaha Branch.

trestle

If you park in the lot at the Clara Barton Historical Site, which is just west of Glen Echo, the trestle is visible from the footbridge connecting the parking area and Glen Echo.
This trestle can be viewed from the trails which lead along the Minnehaha Branch, but you need to be careful as the ground is slippery when wet.
According to a sign just south of the footbridge, the area south of the trestle was at one time covered by an amphitheater which has since been removed. If you look carefully, there are brick remnants of the old amphitheater along the creek.

trestle
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Sycamore Store (Walhonding Rd.)

Just east of Glen Echo, across from a building labeled "Sycamore Store" is another trestle.

There is a parking area near the trestle, and it it visible from MacArthur Blvd. However, there is also a path that will take you down under the trestle to a walkway down to the Clara Barton Parkway.

The sign says it all!

trestle

If you walk under the trestle, there is a circular walkway from which you get a "parkside" view of the remains.

trestle
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Foxhall Road

At the end of MacArthur Blvd. is another trestle, and some remaining track work hidden in the weeds.

While this is technically not part of MacArthur Boulevard, it is still part of the same line. This trestle is located in Glover Archibald Park and Foxhall Road, at the intersection of Canal Road.

trestle

From the underneath, one can see just how delicate the remaining structures are. When you look at all of the trestles on the line, you can see that ( compared to railroad trestles) these structures are really very lightweight.

trestle

There are many places along the route where the path of the trolley line still exists, but they are fading quickly.

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