STREETCAR SCENE

The streetcar on rails was a common sight in Charleston years ago. The first streetcar company opened in 1861, but things didn’t get rolling until 18 miles of track was laid in larger streets by 1866, and passengers could climb aboard vehicles that were pulled by horse or the occasional mule. A number of groups got in the act, such as the Charleston & Seashore Railroad company that carried passengers from ferry landings in Mount Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island, and the stops along the way gave the island the “station” names it still has today. The term trolley wasn’t used until cars were electrified in 1897, but were better known to Charlestonians as “iron donkeys”. They were propelled by current from overhead wires that the car could attach to with a boom, and there were many instances of startled horse carts from the snapping sparks on the wires. In 1910, the new Charleston Consolidated Railway and Lighting Company extended lines for picnics at Magnolia Cemetery, any by 1910 there were 40 miles of trolley tracks, which on wider streets such as Broad and Meeting, there were two sets going in either direction, and at the end of the line, a turning loop to swing around. Each car typically had a brakeman, who controlled speed and stops, and a conductor who took tickets, which in 1910 cost 7 cents. 

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