Monroe goes on another road trip

Reporter in Residence
Monroe Mouse

Oh my — something to look forward to this spring! The Education Committee is going to do a workshop at an off-site location and I am going, even though I haven’t been invited. I have had enough of being curled up in a warm corner of the Mansion during this long cold winter. I need to get out and about.

While listening to their planning, I decided I could make a contribution by sharing my knowledge of early transportation. Our destination would be East Stroudsburg University, better known to me as East Stroudsburg Normal School.

Would we walk, take a horse-drawn carriage, or even a trolley? Well, I overheard that we would be going in a SUV, whatever that is. Never intimidated, I was willing to try something new. In the interim, I could do some research on early transportation that the committee might use on a future project.

Trolley transportation today is probably most associated with the city of San Francisco. However, trolleys played a significant role in Monroe County for a short period in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The trolleys were not the type we associate with San Francisco. The electric street railway was first introduced in Richmond in 1887. It replaced the horse drawn omnibus. During a snowy winter the wheels of the omnibus would be replaced with sleigh runners. They were a costly to operate with the number of horses that had to be fed and sheltered.

Trolleys had an initial positive economic impact. Affordable transportation allowed families to locate beyond the town and city. Workers no longer had to live close to the site of their employment. For the Poconos, trolleys became a vehicle to promote early tourism, as the area’s natural beauty became more accessible to city residents. Trolley lines connected Philadelphia to Portland and then to Delaware Water Gap where city visitors enjoyed the summer months in a pristine setting.

By today’s standards the trip was long, lasting more than six hours, and in the early years made at least three trolley changes. Trolleys stopped at hotels on the southern portion of the route for a meal. The trolley companies made an effort to make the journey as comfortable as possible for its passengers. Leather seats, carpeting, ice water, and even a tour guide were common on the Water Gap portion of the route. The round trip from Philadelphia to Delaware Water Gap cost $2.40 in 1915.

I am really looking forward to my new adventure even if it isn’t in a trolley. These outings are always an opportunity to spread the word about the resources of the Monroe County Historical Association. And I know I can make myself useful by taking notes for the committee.

Monroe used the Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery’s website to do his research.