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, January 06, 2015

Extension of the Toonerville Trolley Line in Pelham Manor in 1910

Trolley tracks once criss-crossed lower Westchester County carrying clattering streetcars throughout the region.  By 1899, travelers could journey between the Battery and any of New Rochelle, Pelham, Mount Vernon or Yonkers for a single fare of eight cents. 

Early last century, one of those trolley lines in the Village of Pelham Manor inspired the creative genius of a man named Fontaine Talbot Fox (1884-1964).  He created one of the most popular comics in the United States – “Toonerville Folks”.  

The cartoon centered around the quirky inhabitants of a town called “Toonerville” and its rickety and unpredictable trolley.  The operator of the trolley was “The Skipper.”  

Fontaine Fox, as he stated a number of times in published interviews and letters, based the comic on his experience during a trolley ride on a visit to Pelham on August 8, 1909. “Toonerville Folks” ran in hundreds of newspapers from about 1913 to 1955 and brought national attention to Pelham.

When Fontaine Fox made his now-famous visit to Pelham on August 8, 1909, the trolley line that inspired him ran along today's Pelhamdale Avenue to a stop near the railroad bridge of the New Haven Branch Line above Pelhamdale not far from today's Grant Avenue and Manor Circle.  Barely a year later, the Westchester Electric Railway extended the Pelham Manor trolley line along Pelhamdale Avenue to Shore Road near the New York Athletic Club.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of a brief article published in 1910 describing plans to expand the little trolley line that inspired Fontaine Fox.  Following the brief article, I have listed links to the many previous articles I have posted about the Toonerville Trolley.

"Toonerville Folks" United States Postage
Stamp Issued on October 1, 1995.


The extension of the Pelham Manor line of the Westchester Electric Railway will be in operation within two months, according to an announcement made by a railway official.  The running of this line will open up to Westchester county and New York another means of reaching Long Island Sound by trolley.  The poles were put up this week and just as soon as work is completed on the Split Rock road, the tracks will be laid on Pelhamdale avenue.  Superintendent Wheeler said:  'It all depends as to the time when they will complete the improvements on the Split Rock road.  That is the only other thoroughfare which can be used by people while we are doing our work.  The street is now practically closed and the company was requested not to begin laying the rails until that street was open, as soon as it is open we will go ahead, and it will only be a matter of a few days when the extension will be ready for use.'  The Pelham Manor line ends now at a point near the bridge of the Harlem River railroad.  It is to be extended under the bridge down Pelhamdale avenue to the entrance to the grounds of the New York Athletic Club."  

Source:  PELHAM MANOR, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 23, 1910, Vol. I, No. 16, p. 1, col. 3. 

Example of "Toonerville Folks" Comic Featuring
the Toonerville Trolley.  Source:  The Pelham Sun, Vol. 22,
No. 39, Dec. 18, 1931, Section 2, p. 1, col. 2.  NOTE:  Click
Image to Enlarge.

Trolley car that ran from Pelham Station along Wolf's Lane
with a short stint on Colonial Avenue then along the length
of Pelhamdale to Shore Road where it turned around and repeated
the trip. The two trolley operators standing in front
of the car were Skippers Dan and Louie.  NOTE:  Click Image
to Enlarge.

*     *     *     *     *

As promised above, below is a bibliography including links to a few of my many previous postings that touch on the topics of horse-drawn railroad cars, electric trolleys and Fontaine Fox's "Toonerville Trolley" comic strip inspired by the Pelham Manor trolley.

Bell, Blake A., Pelham and the Toonerville Trolley, 82(4) The Westchester Historian, pp. 96-111 (Fall 2006).

Bell, Blake A., Pelham and the Toonerville Trolley, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 11, Mar. 12, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.

Wed., Mar. 19, 2014:  Another Confirmation the Famous "Toonerville Trolley" was Inspired by the Pelham Manor Trolley in 1909.

Wed., Mar. 25, 2009:  Another Brief Account by Fontaine Fox Describing Trolley in Pelham Manor as Inspiration for Toonerville Trolley Comic Strip.

Tue., Apr. 19, 2005:   Pelham Manor Residents Fight Construction of the Toonerville Trolley Line

Fri., Jun. 17, 2005:  "Skipper Louie" of Pelham Manor's Toonerville Trolley

Tue., Sep. 20, 2005:  Pelham's "Toonerville Trolley" Goes to War

Tue., Oct. 11, 2005:  The Toonerville Trolley Pays Its Bills -- Late!

Thu., Mar. 09, 2006:  Photographs of the H Line and A Line Trolleys on and Near Pelhamdale Avenue.

Thu., Jul. 06, 2006:  Who Was the Skipper on the Pelham Manor Trolley the Day Fontaine Fox Rode the Line and Was Inspired?

Wed., Aug. 9, 2006:  The Saddest Day in the History of Pelham Manor's "Toonerville Trolley"

Tue., Sep. 19, 2006:  Toonerville Trolley Cartoons Available For Free Viewing Online.  

Mon., Mar. 05, 2007:  An Ode to the Toonerville Trolley and its Skipper Published in 1921.

Mon., May 28, 2007:  Brief Biography of Henry De Witt Carey, 19th Century Pelham Justice of the Peace.

Thu., Jul. 30, 2009:  Pelham-Related Trolley Franchises Granted in 1897.

Mon., Aug. 17, 2009:  Efforts by Pelham Landowners in 1900 to Halt Construction of a Trolley Line on Shore Road.

Thu., Aug. 27, 2009:  October 19, 1898 Report that the Tracks of the Toonerville Trolley Line Had Been Laid in Pelham.  

Wed., Dec. 23, 2009:  Attack on the Toonerville Trolley Line by Strikers in 1916

Wed., Dec. 30, 2009:  Opening of the Extension of the Pelham Manor Trolley Line in 1910 -- The Toonerville Trolley Line.

Tue., Jan. 05, 2010:  More on the Extension of the Pelham Manor Trolley Line in 1910 -- The Toonerville Trolley Line.

Wed., Mar. 05, 2014:  Trolleys Come to Pelham in the 1890s.

Below are materials I have posted in the past relating to the development and operation of horse-drawn rail cars in Pelham.  

Tue., Sep. 1, 2009:  Pelham News on February 29, 1884 Including Talk of Constructing a New Horse Railroad from Bartow to City Island.

Tue., Dec. 01, 2009:  Brief History of City Island Published in 1901.

Wed., Dec. 2, 2009:  Accident on Horse-Car of the Pelham Park Railroad Line in 1889

Thu., Dec. 31, 2009:  1887 Election of the Board of Directors of The City Island and Pelham Park Horse Railroad Company.

Mon., Jan. 4, 2010:  1888 Local News Account Describes Altercation on the Horse Railroad Running from Bartow Station to City Island.

Fri., Jan. 22, 2010:  1884 Account of Early Origins of Horse Railroad Between Bartow Station and City Island.

Tue., Jan. 26, 2010:  1887 Election of the Board of Directors of The City Island and Pelham Park Horse Railroad Company.

Tue., Feb. 2, 2010:  Information About the Pelham Park Railroad at its Outset.

Wed., Feb. 3, 2010:  Early Information Published in 1885 About the Organization of the "City Island Railroad", a Horse Railroad from Bartow Station to City Island

Wed., Feb. 24, 2010:  Attempted Suicide of City Island's Long-Time Horse Car Driver.

Thu., Feb. 25, 2010:  Photograph of Patrick Byrnes and Article About His Retirement of the City Island Horse Car in 1914.

Fri., Feb. 26, 2010:  1913 Decision of Public Service Commission to Allow Reorganization of City Island Horse Railroad for Electrification.

Mon., Mar. 1, 2010:  Flynn Syndicate Buys the City Island Horse Car Line in 1907 to Incorporate It Into Electric Trolley Line.

Tue., Mar. 2, 2010:  1901 Report Indicated that The Flynn Syndicate Planned to Buy the Pelham Bay Park & City Island Horse Car Line.

Wed., Mar. 3, 2010:  1879 Advertisement for Robert J. Vickery's City Island Stage Line, A Predecessor to the City Island Horse Railroad.

Thu., Mar. 4, 2010:  Beginnings of Horse Railroad - News from Pelham and City Island Published in 1884.

Fri., Mar. 5, 2010:  Construction of the City Island Horse Railroad in 1887.

Wed., Mar. 10, 2010:  1899 Article About City Island's New Bridge Describes History of Area and Includes Wonderful Images.

Fri., Apr. 02, 2010:  More on the So-Called "Horse Railroad" that Once Ran from Bartow Station to City Island.

Mon., Apr. 26, 2010:  Public Service Commission Couldn't Find Marshall's Corners in 1909.

Tue., Apr. 27, 2010:  New York City's Interborough Rapid Transit Company Sued to Foreclose a Mortgage on the Horse Railroad in 1911.

Wed., Apr. 28, 2010:  Efforts by the Pelham Park Horse Railroad to Expand and Develop a Trolley Car Line on Shore Road in 1897.  

Thu., Apr. 29, 2010:  City Islanders Complain and Force the Operators of Their Horse Railroad to Agree to Replace Antiquated Cars in 1908.

Fri., Apr. 30, 2010:  "Truly, An Illuminating Little Passage in the History of New-York!" - Efforts to Develop Shore Road Trolley Line in 1897.

Mon., May 3, 2010:  Efforts To Reorganize the Operators of the City Island Horse Railroad and Monorail in 1914.

Tue., May 4, 2010:  Questions Regarding the Trolley Franchise from Bartow Station to the Tip of City Island Arose in 1915.

Thu., May 13, 2010:  More on the Early History of the Pelham and City Island Railroad.

Mon., Jul. 18, 2011:  City Island Horse Railroad Temporarily Shut Down in 1892 Over Cruelty Concerns

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