Windber Trolley Graveyard: An apocalyptic trolley graveyard sitting out deep in the woods of Pennsylvania

A lengthy stretch of WWII-era streetcars extends into the woods in Somerset County, Western Pennsylvania.

It’s one of the strangest places in the state, and it looks like something out of an apocalyptic horror film. This cemetery has about 45 trolleys/streetcars, largely from the 1930s and 1940s, that ran in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Johnstown, and Boston. The cars were flatbed trucked from Boston to this railcar repair business in Windber, a tiny coal mining town in the Pennsylvania highlands.

Long Line of Trolleys. These collections date from the early days of historic trolley lines. Photo Credit
A huge graveyard, stored on the site of a former mine, that hosts over 45 old transportation vehicles. Photo Credit
The PCC streamlined streetcars languishing in the woods are from Philadephia SEPTA and Boston MBTA. Photo Credit1 Photo Credit2

These are PCC Streetcars from the years 1936 to 1952. PCC stood for the Presidents’ Conference Committee, which was involved in the design of these vehicles. The PCC streetcar design was initially manufactured in the United States in the 1930s and was regarded as a model in the industry at the time for its performance and appearance.

It has proven to be a long-lasting symbol of streetcar design, with PCC cars continuing to use in numerous locations across the world. St. Louis Car Company and Pullman Standard constructed around 5000 of them before discontinuing manufacturing.

Over the years, the trolleys fall into disrepair. Once filled with people, the trains sit decaying on winding tracks. Photo Credit
Dozens of trolleys and train cars from PA, MA, KS in various states of decomposition. Mother Nature has been hard on these once-cherished machines. Photo Credit
Vandalism has increased, with the theft of copper wires and parts. Photo Credit
The trains were collected by a retired civil engineer who spent his career with the Army Corp of Engineers. He purchased a lot of these streetcars starting in the 1980s Photo Credit

Vandalism has taken its toll on them, and scrap metal thieves have stolen auto components. The ‘wrecks’ were gathered by Ed Metka, a retired civil engineer with a love of streetcars who worked for the Army Corps of Engineers and once repaired them. He bought a large number of these streetcars in the 1980s when rail companies were auctioning off their out-of-service PCC fleet.

He received them from other private entities as well. However, Metka allowed them to deteriorate over time, and many of them are now beyond repair. The trees that have grown in and around the rusted track attest to how long these ancient, rusted, and abandoned trolley hulls have been lying here.

Metka lived in Maryland when he acquired his first streetcar in 1986. When Metka retired, after a career as a civil engineer in the Army Corp of Engineers, he worried that many of the great trolley models were being sold for scrap or destroyed. Photo Credit
Metka has goals for these streetcars but a lot of them are way beyond repair. He believes that each could be refurbished or provide parts for other streetcar restorations. Photo Credit
Ed Metka does occasionally give tours, so that is one way to see the cars. Photo Credit1 Photo Credit2

Metka has yet to find a buyer for the old trolley vehicles, who will be restored or used as parts in the restoration of other vintage streetcars.

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