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The Riverview Street Railway Company

Milestones Vol 26. No. 4

By Walter W. Warren




The Beaver Valley Street Railway

Company was organized September 17, 1884 with a capital stock of $30,000 and a week later a charter was secured. Ground was broken on May 6, 1885. The first officers were: President, M. L. McKnight; Vice President, Col. Jacob Weyand; Secretary-Treasurer,J. F. Merriman and Directors, Hon. Henry Hice, Jacob Weyand, John Reeves, J. C. Whitla, H. W. Reeves, Jos. J. Snellenburg and M. L. McKnight. When Mr. Whitla and Mr. Snellenberg resigned, their successors became George W. Coates andJames M. May. Lycurgus Richardson was superintendent.

The first operation was horse drawn cars. The line ran from the car barns at 29th Street, Beaver Falls through Beaver Falls and over the covered bridge, down through New Brighton to 14th Street and up 14th Street to the Fort Wayne depot.

It was thus until the road was sold to the Beaver Valley Traction Company inJuly, 1891. At this time the line was electrified and extended through Sharon to Beaver. This company was chartered onJune 29, 1891, with a capital stock of $300,000. The road was modernized and practically rebuilt, made with double track and a power house and car barns built at the present location of King's Mirror, just south of the P&LE station in Beaver Falls. When the road was extended down through New Brighton and over the Sharon Bridge to Beaver, the line up 14th Street was discontinued.



The Tenth Street Bridge Company was incorporated in May, 1889, and the construction of the bridge promptly began. It was opened for traffic in 1890. The bridge was called the Tenth Street Bridge because Tenth Street, which is now 13th Avenue in New Brighton, ran directly onto the bridge and it came out at Fourth Street in Beaver Falls. When the bridge was built, 12th Avenue in New Brighton was opened and paved in 1891. The bridge was built with the expectation that the Riverview Street Car Line would use it. This would indicate that the Riverview Line had been started with the construction or was planned. The tracks were probably laid on the bridge and put on 12th Avenue, New Brighton at this time. The bridge was a toll bridge with Jacob Rosenbaur tolltaker. He was the grandfather of Ken Rosenbaur who works at the Standard Steel Specialty Company, Beaver Falls, in 1967 Jacob Rosenbaur lived in the first house on the right leaving the bridge in New Brighton. The account states that the Riverview Line was constructed and the hill district of New Brighton began to build up and it became a popular bridge even before it was bought by the county in 1896 and freed of tolls.

After the Tenth Street Bridge was made toll free, all the through traffic used this bridge, until the Pennsylvania Railroad changed their lines from Fifth Avenue to Second Avenue and built a new railroad bridge. The old railroad bridge was made into a traffic bridge. This was completed in 1926. The traffic that went over the Tenth Street Bridge before this, went over 12th Avenue to 5th Street then down to 11th Avenue to Allegheny Street, left to Penn Avenue, then right down Penn Avenue to 16th Street and down 16th Street to Third Avenue.


Harry T. Barker was a surveyor and professional engineer. He was city engineer of New Brighton and Beaver Falls elected in 1879. He was one of the organizers of the Riverview Land Company in 1892 and was one of the directors. The section of Riverview at the head of the 8th Street hollow in Beaver Falls was the section of Riverview that was more level and lower than the other hill top, being only about 3/4 as high as the rest. The land was surveyed and laid out in town lots, and the route of the Riverview Railroad, which is about two miles long, was surveyed. The car barn of the Riverview Line was on the top of the hill. The line, being only two miles long, would not include the line that went to New Brighton.

At this time in Beaver Falls was an organization called the Beaver Falls Improvement Company. F. Edward Beilman, who built a department store in Beaver Falls in 1894, was a director of the Riverview Electric Street Railway Company. He was also a member of the executive committee of the Beaver Falls Improvement Company in which he was an indefatigable worker. Stuart Caler of Riverview, who with his father, Frank W. Caler, both worked for the street car companies, the Beaver Valley and Riverview Lines. Frank Caler had been a toll taker on the old covered bridge and had "motored", been motorman, on both the Riverview and Traction Company Lines. In 1895, when the Beaver Valley Traction Company was on a strike, Frank Caler worked for a traction company in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Stuart Caler, who was born in 1890, worked in the car barns of the Beaver Valley Traction Company at the junction starting in 1902. In 1906 he started with the Martsolf Furniture Company as deliveryman. Walter W. Warren knew him when he worked for Martsolf in the fall of 1919. This information of the Riverview Lines was secured from him and his sister, Nell Stafford, the librarian in the New Brighton Library in the Merrick Building, along with the information derived from accounts of the promoters of the Riverview Land Company and the Beaver Falls Improvement Company. Others who were connected with the Riverview Lines were J. D. Perrott, who was in the Beaver Falls Improvement Company and the Riverview Street Railway Company. Stuart Caler described him as being one of the "going" men in the concern.

Norman F. Dillan, for many years, was one of the active and influential residents of Beaver Falls. He had been at one time Superintendent of the Beaver Falls Gas Company and was one of the promoters of the Beaver Falls Improvement Company, which was organized to attract manufacturing interests to Beaver Falls. Edward F. Beilman, mentioned before as an indefatigable worker in the Beaver Falls Improvement Company and one of their most faithful workers, was made a special representative to bring the Eclipse Bicycle Company to Beaver Falls. He was the one most responsible in raising $50,000 required to get the Eclipse Bicycle Company to come to Beaver Falls. The bicycle company was in the old Cutlery Building from 1892 through 1896, when they moved to Elmira, New York. Thomas Metanle, who married Eleanor "Libby" Cowling, a sister of Emily Cowling who married Isaac Warren, Walter W. Warren's grandfather, and who had joined the Eclipse Bicycle Company, moved with his family to Elmira, along with his son John and family. John also had worked for the company.

After the organization of the Riverview Land Company and the Riverview Street Railway Company in 1892, and the surveys made, the construction was started. The track was started at the Pennsylvania Railroad depot, Beaver Falls and run up around the hill between 11th Street and 8th Street. The grade would be not as steep this way and it would pass the reservoir the Pennsylvania R.R. had in the 8th Street hollow, to furnish water for the engines. The railroad also had a turntable at 8th Street on the west side of the railroad lines. After the street car track got towards the top, the grade wasn't so steep. The Riverview Park, which was to be made, was at the top of the hill and the car barn located there also. I think the car was to make a loop around the park. The lots that were laid out were above this. This part of the Riverview Line only went to the Pennsylvania RR Depot. They used a light car like the summer cars on the Beaver Valley Traction Company lines. Since the grade was made uniform, and not too steep, the car could negotiate it without having to be pulled up by a cable. The line was not put into operation until 1898 and ran until 1904 when it was discontinued because the project did not work out. The people were not ready to move up there on the hill. For some reason, that part of the hill is still not built on. About 1910 or 1911, the lots on the hill were sold at auction. Frank W Caler bought seven of them and the lumber from the car barn when it was torn down. Stuart Caler helped tear it down. The Frank Calers built a house with the lumber from the car barn. The house is not now in the family, having been sold. Stuart Caler still lives on Riverview on 4th Street.

The downtown part of the Riverview Line ran from the Pennsylvania R.R. Depot in Beaver Falls down 11th Street to the P&LE RR Depot. Then it came back up 11th Street to 3rd Avenue, down 3rd Avenue to 6th Avenue then over the 10th Street Bridge to New Brighton, over 12th Avenue to 6th Street west on 6th Street to 10th Avenue, then south on 10th Avenue to 11th Street to the left to Penn Avenue, then to the right on Penn Avenue to 14th Street, and down 14th Street to the New Brighton Pennsylvania R.R Station. The line was single track with two passing switches, one on 12th Avenue, New Brighton just south of 5th Street below the first alley; the other on 3rd Avenue, Beaver Falls just off 6th Avenue. There was also a line connecting the Riverview Line with the 7th Avenue line at 5th Street, Beaver Falls. The cars on the Riverview Line ran every 20 minutes, leaving the Pennsylvania R.R. Stations in both towns on the hour and 20 minutes to and 20 minutes after. The cars were to pass on the switch in New Brighton.

There was a signal light on the pole on the street that held the trolley wire. If the car was late or detained any length of time in Beaver Falls, the New Brighton car would go over and pass on the Beaver Falls switch. The signal lights on the poles were switched by the conductor whenever he got to the switch to show the other car if the track was clear. The cars were short with four wheels close together in the middle of the car. The cars had a vestibule at each end where the passengers boarded and got off. The motorman could operate the car from either end and the trolley was reversed at the end of the line. The people all got on and off at the same end, making it confusing if there were many on the car. At peak load times, the people would be standing in the car. The seats ran parallel with the car on both sides. There was a small stove that burned hard coal for warmth. The car was heavy and in going up grades had to use sand on the rails. At 14th Street in New Brighton at the end of the line there was a sand box for filling the boxes on the street car. They always had to use sand on the 14th Street hill in New Brighton and still the wheels would slide and spark. Regularly they had a man, with a broom and bucket of grease, sweep the track on the curve, where there was a double flange on the inside rail to keep the car from jumping the track, as the curves were sharp, the one on 11th Street and Penn Avenue being less than 45 degrees. After he swept the track, he put grease in the groove to make the car turn the corner easier.

The downtown Riverview Line must have started operating before the hilltop line. In the 10th Street Bridge account it said the Riverview Line was going over the bridge and the Oak Hill section of New Brighton had started to build up before the bridge was freed of toll in 1896. The Beaver Valley Traction Company, when it was organized and double tracked and re-built in 1900-01, had formed the Overgrade Bridge Company which took over the wooden covered bridge, tore it down and replaced it with a steel bridge on the same site. The steel bridge was flimsy and after a year required constant repair. It was built chiefly as a streetcar bridge, as there was little traffic on the bridge, most going over the Tenth Street Bridge.

Frank M. Caler, Stuart's father, helped tear down the old covered bridge when they replaced it with the steel bridge. It was after this that he started as motorman for the Riverview and Beaver Valley Traction Company. Stuart said the Riverview Line downtown was run by the Beaver Valley Traction Company. There was no car barn except the one on the Beaver Valley Line, so the Traction Company must have run them. The Beaver Valley Traction Company acquired possession of the line in 1903 and ran it as part of its regular system. You could get a transfer from either line at 11th Street in Beaver Falls, where the lines crossed.

The Beaver Falls Improvement Company pushed the starting of the operation of the streetcar lines as they would benefit from the business of the people the lines would serve. Edward F. Beilman, whose store was at 1104-1106 7th Avenue, advertised that he would pay the fare home on the street car for anyone who would buy $5.00 or more worth of merchandise. New Brighton merchants attempted a couple of times to get shoppers to go down into New Brighton from Oak Hill by establishing a bus line from Crescent Heights to the business district, but it didn't succeed.

The Riverview Line was the first one to be discontinued and busses of the Beaver Valley Motor Coach Company substituted in August of 1924. It was quite a street car line. After the track started getting rough and uneven, the cars couldn't travel as fast as the car, only being balanced in the center would get to rocking up and down on the ends. There was also nothing but turns on the line which made for slow going.