Sparrows Point Transit Memories

By: John Barry

     I was born at Church Home and Hospital in March, 1952, so my memories of the Point and its late, lamented #26 car line are relatively fresh--in fact, don't forget that it was forty years ago just this past Labor Day (31 August, to be precise) that the last car ran to Sparrows Point.

     At any rate, I lived at 510 D Street until October 1964, so I had the route 26 cars running right past my front door until I was about four years old. I have a vivid memory of sitting in the barber's chair in the shop on the northeast corner of 4th and D Streets, with the chair turned so that I could look out the window and watch the comings and goings of the PCC cars as they turned the corner from D Street into 4th to head back into the city (or vice versa for arriving at the Point).

     Many was the time that my mom (or an aunt) and I took the streetcar from either the stop at 5th and D Streets (or at 6th and D when the line was relocated to accommodate Bethlehem Steel's last great expansion) to the end of the line in Highlandtown. I often made us sit up front so I could get a good view of the trip across the drawbridge and up the right-of-way in the center of Dundalk Avenue--and so I could watch and hear the mechanism of the farebox which, for some reason, was fascinating to a kid of about four or five years old. When we arrived at the end of the line in Highlandtown, I remember waiting on the street in what seemed like an alley for the route 10 trolley bus (yes, I know that's not the proper term, but that's what they were called in the area at the time) for the rest of the ride into the downtown--usually an expedition to Hutzler's or Hochschild's on Howard Street between Saratoga and Lexington.

     I can also remember a few nighttime trips to Dundalk on the streetcar: there was always the fascination with the signals at the side of the track, and the anticipation of waiting for a car to pass in the opposite direction to see the signals change.

     When I was finishing up kindergarten, I also recall seeing--for the one and only time--a Red Rocket in action on the Sparrows Point line. That would have been in May 1958, so undoubtedly it was a fan trip, riding the line for one final time before conversion to bus service.

     For all the times I rode the 26 car, I don't remember the conversion itself--except for the sudden realization that the overhead wires were gone, and that buses with a "26" on the roll sign now ran by our house, after entering Sparrows Point by way of 7th, F, and 5th Streets. I do, however, remember reading the Evening Sun in early November 1963, with the article about the end of all of Baltimore's streetcar service--but my dad and I never did get a ride on that last day, for reasons I don't quite recall.

     And for all I know, there's still an old elliptical cast iron "W" sign on the road overpass over the railroad leading into Sparrows Point from the shipyard and tin mill gates. That was placed there probably during the '20s or even earlier for the motormen of the Red Rockets--and it withstood my unsuccessful attempt to "liberate" it back in 1969 or so.

John Barry
Wenonah, NJ

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