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Washington & Old Dominion Trolley

Before cars and the Metro, this is how Arlingtonians got around.

Welcome to our new column, 'The Past in HD.' Our aim is to post high-resolution images from Clarendon-Courthouse-Rosslyn's history and explain them.

This week's photograph comes from the Harris & Ewing Collection of the Library of Congress. It shows the inside of a Washington & Old Dominion trolley car circa 1930.

Long before 66 and the Orange Line came into existence, Arlingtonians could hop on an "interurban" rail car to travel around Northern Virginia. Interurban lines, which have largely been phased out in America, were known for their comfortable accommodations and quick travel times (when compared to urban trolley systems).

Ride one of the few modern examples and you'll be amazed by their nearly seamless transitions from main streets of small towns to rural countryside and back again (often traversing varied terrain such as farm fields and wooded areas).

A W&OD train trip starting from Rosslyn could end as far west as Bluemont, Va. Or you could take a quick jaunt up to Great Falls. Unfortunately, passenger service ended in 1951.

Modern Metro cars seem incredibly spartan in comparison to this early 20th century wooden jewel. But there are a few commonalities -- notice the ragged carpeting and threats of fine or imprisonment for spitting placed above the door (visible in the ultra-HD version).

More to come next week! And we'll have much more on the W&OD in the future.

Mark Blacknell February 09, 2011 at 01:29 PM
Excellent. Looking forward to more.
Katherine Neubert February 10, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Great first pic. Can't wait to see more!

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