Last Wilkes-Barre Trolley in Need of Face-lift

SWOYERSVILLE, Pa. -- A piece of history in Luzerne County is getting restored, but making something old new again comes with a hefty price tag.

The only known remaining Wilkes-Barre streetcar looks a little worse for wear right now, but it took years for Anthracite Trolleys President Conrad Baut and other trolley enthusiasts to get it to where it is today.

"Back in 1985, my wife and I lived out in the neighborhood where this was situated, and one day I took a bicycle ride past this country idyllic setting, and I noticed the two ends of the car sticking out the sides of the cottage," Baut explained. "It was used for housing for a great number of years. It was situated as a home for over 68 years."

Back in July, the trolley was removed from a home in Franklin Township and relocated to a garage in Swoyersville. The hope is that one day it will once again be a fully functioning streetcar.

Those lofty goals come with a hefty price tag, however, and restoration committee members hope showing off the trolley will help raise funds to complete the project.

"We believe at this stage we need probably $250,000 to $275,000 to be able to complete the car," Baut said.

While trolley car 790 has come a long way in this last year, there's still a lot more work to be done.

"There'll be heavy steel work. There'll be replacement of steel sheet. There'll be making new window, wooden sashes. They'll be putting a new canvas top on it. They'll be paint stripping of all the interior surfaces," Baut added.

While the repairs will be extensive, those working on the project say it's an important part of our area's history.

"This ties together the anthracite region's heritage. We have two Scranton cars which are under restoration, and then there'll be this Wilkes-Barre car," said Dave Biles, Electric City Trolley Museum. "790 is the last one left out of all the Wilkes-Barre trolley cars that existed."

If you are interested in donating time or money to support the trolley restoration, click here for more information.

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