The History of The Water Gap Trolley

Immortalized in paintings, folk music, as an iconic stop along the Appalachian Trail, and as a pretty site along Route 80, the Delaware Water Gap is a unique geologic feature that has drawn people to it for thousands of years.  Currently separating Pennsylvania from New Jersey, the Delaware Water Gap is one of the closest and most accessible gaps through a chain of hills and mountains that stretch for miles on either side.  Beginning in the 1900’s, trolley lines began to form to provide access through this area.

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The History of the Water Gap Trolley

The history of trolleys in the Delaware Water Gap exemplify in miniature the competing interests and occasional clashes between many of the railways and trolley companies in the area during that time.  It was on July 10, 1907 that the Mountain View Line connected the Delaware Gap with existing trolley lines through the area of Stroudsburg.  Serving also as a school bus during the school year, the trolley played an important role in facilitating transportation in and around the area for as little as 15 cents a ride.

For the next few years, competing interests would cause companies to struggle to provide direct routes from nearby cities.  More often than not, travelers would have to change lines at least once before reaching the Delaware Water Gap.  This was no longer the case in 1908, and in February 21, 1911 portions of the mountain at its most narrow point were dynamited to make room for a trolley line from the Lehigh Valley Traction Company.  Increasing access to the area, the line was known as the Liberty Bell route and they featured bright yellow open cars during the summer and enclosed cars during the winter.  The period of 1908 to 1915 also saw a trolley line run from Philadelphia to the resorts in and around the Delaware Water Gap, providing short-lived direct access to the gap.

Trolleys Coming To An End In The Gap

As bus lines grew in the country and around the gap, trolley lines became increasing rare.  The last trolley in the area ran in 1928.  Played out as people sang ‘the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be,’ the age of trolleys in the gap came to an end with a song and a cheer.  While the trolleys may be long gone, you can still make out where the lines would have been in the gap.  In addition, there is the Delaware Water Gap Trolley Experience, which recreates for a current audience what visitors from more than a century ago would have experienced.