Streetcars have become a tourist attraction in Kenosha, and bring many visitors there who also visit the museums, restaurants, the lake shore, and many other attractions. Yesterday was their annual Streetcar Day, and Kenosha Area Transit introduced newly refurbished PCC 4617 into service, in 1950s-era San Francisco colors, replete with “wings.”
The car, which looks beautiful both inside and out, took a long road to get there, starting in Toronto in 1951, with a stint at the East Troy Electric Railroad. Being a single-ended car, it was not a good fit for the museum, which lacks turning loops at its ends. To operate 4617 on that line would involve backing up the car 50% of the time. We can be thankful that it has found a good home elsewhere in Wisconsin.
We got there just in time for the ceremonial breaking of a banner as the car backed out of the barn. They put the car on display for a while and then began running it on the two mile long trolley loop that goes between the local Metra station and the lakefront.
The San Francisco car joins a fleet that already pays tribute to such cities as Chicago, Pittsburgh, Johnstown PA, Philadelphia, Toronto and Cincinnati. All of these (except for the Philadelphia car) were built in Canada and originally ran in Toronto.
After stopping for lunch at the historic Franks Diner, where they serve up a kind of organized chaos along with their signature “garbage plate” of eggs, cheese, meats, onions, green peppers and hash browns, we rode the 4617 and took many pictures and videos of it and the other cars that were being shuffled in and out of service.
With the wind and all the clouds out over Lake Michigan, we could have had some foggy San Francisco weather, but the day was mostly sunny instead. Besides the streetcars, we also spotted a couple of classic autos– a rare 1929-32 Cord L-29, the first production car in the US with front-wheel drive, and a 1927-31 Ford Model A.
If you have not yet visited Kenosha’s streetcar loop, it is well worth a trip. And while plans to expand the system have been shelved for the moment, they run a first-class operation, in large part due to the hard work of streetcar technician Brad Preston.
-Ye Olde Editor
PS- Today’s photos and videos are by David Sadowski and Diana Koester.
You can read another article about the SF tribute car on the Market Street Railway blog.
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