Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Pelham's "Toonerville Trolley" Goes To War

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Periodically I have published Blog postings regarding the famous "Toonerville Trolley" of the comic strip known as "Toonerville Folks". Comic strip artist Fontaine Talbot Fox was inspired to create the Toonerville Trolley after a ride on the little trolley that ran through Pelham Manor during the early 20th century. For two such postings, see:

Friday, June 17, 2005: "Skipper Louie" of Pelham Manor's Toonerville Trolley

Tuesday, April 19, 2005: Pelham Manor Residents Fight Construction of the Toonerville Trolley Line

Few may know that Pelham Manor's "Toonerville Trolley" line went to War during World War II, so to speak. Actually, recent research suggests that although the trolley was discontinued in 1937, the tracks remained beneath the streets. In 1942, the local paper reported a proposal to tear up Pelhamdale Avenue between Boston Post Road and Shore Road to allow the trolley rails to be donated to the Government for scrap "to fill wartime melting pots". Research has not yet revealed whether the tracks were actually removed. We know that a portion of the tracks still remain beneath the streets where Colonial Avenue intersects with Pelhamdale Avenue. The pertinent article is transcribed below.

"'Toonerville Trolley' Rails Will Be Torn Up And Donated To Government For Scrap to Fill Wartime Melting Pots


Powerful Katrinka Being Otherwise Engaged. Metals Reserve Company Will Rip Up The Tracks From The Ties. Manor Board of Trustees Cheerfully Donate Rails After Railway Co. Gives Title.


The tracks of the old Toonerville Trolley, which have lain buried on Pelhamdale avenue from Boston Post road to the Shore road since the busses replaced the old sea-going antiquity which was honored by being called a street-car, will be torn up and sent on their way to the re-melting furnaces for conversion into war materiel. The Powerful Katrinka, so closely associated with the operations of the Toonerville in critical moments where power was the most desirable element to bring it forth from its troubles, will not assist in the work of tearing up the tracks. The work will be done by the Metals Reserve Co., a subsidiary of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
At Monday night's meeting of the Pelham Manor Board of Trustees, Acting Mayor Furnald Smith reported that he had received a request from the War Production Board in New York to donate the buried rails and make a gift of them to the Metals Reserve Company, which in turn will tear them and replace the pavement in good condition.

Acting Mayor Smith reminded the Board that the rails were not the property of the village, but advised them that the Third Avenue Railway would be willing to transfer title to the Board could in turn make a donation of them to the national salvage.

Trustee Bieber commented: 'That seems to be our national duty doesn't it?' and the Board agreed, requesting Village Attorney Kerfoot to conduct necessary legal steps.

Trolley car rails which existed when the street cars were discontinued in North Pelham and Pelham Heights were torn up when the street was repaved. Village Engineer Rich of Pelham Heights said that only a short section of rails existed, a few feet on Boulevard West from Wolf's lane to the Mount Vernon city line."

Source: "Toonerville Trolley" Rails Will Be Torn Up And Donated To Government For Scrap to Fill Wartime Melting Pots, The Pelham Sun, Vol. 32, No. 26 (Second Section), p. 1, col. 1.

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