I have always wanted to make one of the trolleys that ran through Hershey Pennsylvania ever since I had the opportunity to interview an interesting man named Clarence Groff for a college paper I was writing. He’s 101 years old now and has always been a trolley enthusiast ever since he first rode the Hershey trolleys when he was a little boy. As he grew older, he began making large scale, working replicas of trolleys from scratch, especially of those that ran through Hershey. I was so inspired by Mr. Groff’s stories and models that I knew I wanted to make one, and now I’ve finally gotten the chance to render one of these streetcars in brick.
The story of the Hershey trolleys begins with Milton Hershey, who found success in the candy business more than 100 years ago. As the company and the town around it grew, Hershey saw the need for trolleys, and in 1904 the Hershey Transit Company’s first streetcars made their departure. They were used for transporting people to work and school and even carrying freight, such as milk, to the factory. In fact, some trolleys were used exclusively for transporting freight, and these cars looked very different from their passenger counterparts. But as the automobile began taking hold, trolleys all over the nation were being used less and less. More people were driving to get where they needed to go, and trucks began replacing rail transportation for shipping goods. However, the Hershey trolleys were saved by the Great Depression, a time when money was tight, and again during World War II, a time when conservation of major resources such as gas was important for the war effort. In 1946, the trolleys made their final run and faded out of existence.
Many of the original trolleys were sent to scrap yards, and pretty soon Hershey had none of its original trolleys, that is until recently. One of the original trolleys has finally made its way back to town, but it is in pretty sad shape. The restoration is going to be costly, and the Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society is looking for donations and any volunteers that can help with the restoration, research, and archiving.
A shot of the trolley from the side. The color scheme of the trolleys was green with yellow trim, along with a red roof. They were NEVER brown like some of the HO trolleys with the Hershey name would appear to suggest.
A shot of the trolley from the front. I used vintage "door" pieces from the 1960s for the front and rear windows. I was originally going to use the yellow train windows, but they were too costly. Now that I've finished building it, I actually think I prefer these windows.
I decided to buy engraved bricks for the logo from Tommy Armstrong ("The Brick Engraver"), and I think they look fantastic on it. I went with brick-built windows, again largely due to cost. The 4-wide yellow train windows worked out to about $4 a piece. But again, I prefer the finished result, since the overall look better represents the actual trolleys.
These are supposed to be minifig representations of Milton Hershey, his wife "Kitty," and a young boy. M. S. Hershey and his wife never had children of their own, but they loved them and created a school for orphan boys. Today, the Milton Hershey school still exists, and has further opened its doors to girls and troubled youth.