Friday, February 14, 2014

Glen Echo - DC Transit Attraction

"DC Transit Glen Echo" oil on canvas (30 x 40) 2014
The ads for Glen Echo which aired during the Captain Tugg show on WTTG-tv channel 5 were as close as I got to this Washington, DC area amusement park. Our parents said it was too far away and besides, we had Baltimore's Gwynn Oak Amusement Park. Well we missed a lot never having visited this splendid playground. It had classier attractions than Gwynn Oak including a  sparkling swimming pool about which I fantasized. So I can visit the park these days in my imagination looking at one of my latest paintings. I can almost hear the streetcar door open and close while the riders are screaming with glee on the big wooden roller coaster.

Like many electric parks Glen Echo gave a welcome boost to streetcar ridership on the weekends. I discovered this clipping in a DC Transit Brochure that I have in my collection. You are encouraged to "take the Number 20 car marked Cabin John anywhere along Pennsylvania Avenue west of Peace Monument" in order to get to Glen Echo. The former PCC operators of this line like to reminisce about hurtling along the streetcar tracks over the  Cabin John Bridge at the nearly top speed of 65 m.p.h.  What a great story they tell.

The park has been preserved in many ways. There are dances on weekends and an active arts organization with exhibits among the range of interests. The streetcar is also memorialized there but no tracks to fly over the Cabin John Bridge exist anymore.
Ding Ding


  1. Charlene,
    Enjoying your posts and art, please keep it up. (I especially liked the Ellicott City No. 9 post as I frequent the trolley path, walking and biking.) I too have an interest in streetcars, and seeing your references also to D.C., I thought to pass this along. It’s from vol. I of William Manchester’s The Glory and the Dream.

    In 1932, MacArthur was the only four-star general (there were no three-stars), and he enjoyed the exclusive use of the Army’s only limo. His aide Eisenhower was also the military’s congressional lobbyist and frequently went up to Capitol Hill. Did MacArthur loan him the limo? No. Authorize taxi fare? No. As Ike recalled later in life he’d walk down the hall, fill out a form and exchanged it for two streetcar tokens. Then, standing out on Pennsylvania Ave. he would wait for a Mt. Pleasant trolley car.

    He didn’t wait long. Washington was laced with trolley tracks. There were nearly seven hundred streetcars in service. They were efficient, and traffic jams (speed limit was 22 mph) were a generation away.

    One wonders - what if “light rail” had not taken a holiday for the last half of the twentieth century?

  2. I love that story. Thanks for sharing some of Mr. Manchester's work. Yes DC Transit was a first class operation all the way. Even after they knew they were being voted out of existence they never stopped improving the line.

  3. What an interesting bit of history.....they really should bring them back. What is that brick structure in the background?

  4. Not sure what that beautiful building is but I am sure some of the patrons of the park could tell us.

  5. Further to D.C streetcars: