No one wants to live in the past, but spending a day in the bygone trolley era? Well, that’s just plain fun. You can do just that at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, an interactive, imaginative experience for the entire family. Over the last 50 years, the museum has evolved from its beginnings: a united effort to preserve a rich piece of American history.

Today, the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, in Washington, is home to nearly 50 street and interurban railway cars, along with various locomotives, railway structures and artifacts from one of the nation’s most beloved time periods.

Riding into the trolley era

If glass cases and heavy reading aren’t your thing, you’ll find a refreshing take on the “museum” experience at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. Admission to the center includes scenic trolley rides, guided tours, an entertaining video presentation and various interactive exhibits.

Wait under an authentic awning for your turn to board a historical, beautifully restored streetcar for a 4-mile round-trip ride. Your ticket is good for unlimited rides, so you can enjoy the clanging bells and clattering wheels time after time.

Interactive history

With dazzling displays and interactive exhibits, the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum makes history fun.

“You can hear the rumble of the car and the ding of the bell as you operate authentic trolley controls with our Trolley Operator Simulator,” said Scott Becker, executive director of the museum. Becker guarantees family members of all ages will enjoy their time at the museum.

“It’s very interactive,” he said. “It’s definitely a three-dimensional experience.”

Spotting a celebrity

With their familiar rounded windows and nostalgic bells, streetcars have certainly had their time on the big screen — sometimes as the title character.

“We have the original ‘Streetcar Named Desire’ from New Orleans,” Becker said. “We have a trolley that was operated by Fred Rogers on one of his episodes of 'Mister Rogers Neighborhood' as well.”

And with dozens of cars from Pennsylvania and Ohio, you might even come across a trolley that once served your own neighborhood.

Celebrating the season

With its spirit of excitement and nostalgia, the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum is certainly worth a repeat trip — or several. Since fun seasonal events happen all year long, there’s always something new to see and experience.

This month marked the museum’s first “Jim Henson’s Dinosaur Train,” with special guests from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and sponsored by Visit Washington County, PA. In October, experience some Halloween fun with the Pumpkin Patch Trolley running Oct. 13-14, 20-21 and 27-28. In December, the museum will bring back its much-beloved Santa Trolley, complete with Santa and the Mrs., starting the weekend after Thanksgiving. For a full list of events and dates, visit the museum’s special events page.

Looking back … and forward

A day at the museum offers perspective on the convenience of today’s modern America, with its electric cars and sophisticated public transportation systems. But the purpose of the museum isn’t simply to help visitors brush up on history.

“We have guests come who visited as a child and now they’re bringing their grandchildren,” Becker said. “These cars still operate today, so in many ways we’re still in the trolley era. It’s as much looking forward as it is looking back.”

The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum is at 1 Museum Road in Washington and is open now on Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the last tour at 3 p.m. Hours vary by season, so visit for more information or call 724-228-9256.


This article is sponsored by Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.


A journalism graduate from Brigham Young University, Kristen Price has experience writing in a variety of fields, including art and culture, health and fitness and financial and real estate services. Kristen has written for USA Today, SFGate and the Knot.