The Harmony Line of Pennsylvania
The Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler and New Castle Railway, commonly called the Harmony Line, was a broad gauge interurban streetcar line connecting Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States to Butler and New Castle via Harmony and a split at Evans City. There was also an extension that was later added to the line from Ellwood City to Beaver Falls.
The Harmony Line was developed by business partners Russel H. Boggs and Henry Buhl as an adjunct to their department store in Pittsburgh. Mr. Boggs already had a business relationship with many of the farms between Evans City and Pittsburgh and proposed exchanging the right of way across their land for one dollar, a guaranteed trolley stop and an electricity supply. The Butler and New Castle Railway was formed in 1906 by consolidating 11 small railways that ran into Harmony.
The first trolley ran to Ellwood City on July 2, 1908. At the southern end of the Harmony Line, the run into Pittsburgh was via the Pittsburg Railways. In 1914 an extension along the Beaver Valley opened leaving Ellwood City heading south west, and crossed the Beaver River on Koppel Bridge which was built for the purpose. This bridge also carried vehicle and pedestrian traffic and was subject to a toll.
In 1917 the railway amalgamated with the Pittsburgh and Butler Street Railway that operated the Butler Short Line between Pittsburgh and Butler. The new company became the Pittsburgh, Mars and Butler Railway. Combined the new system had a length of 118 miles. In 1922 the railway formed the Harmony Short Line Motor Transportation Company to carry freight between Bakerstown, and Butler.
In April 1931, the company went into receivership. The Butler Short Line was closed on April 22, 1931 as it was in poor condition. Services were absorbed into the PA 8 bus service. Beaver Falls – Ellwood City – New Castle services were replaced by buses on June 15, 1931. The remaining lines were replaced by buses on the same day, with the final trolley running on August 15, 1931. The stub of the Butler Short Line continued to be used by Pittsburgh Railways until its closure in 1952.
Car 115 avoided being burnt when the line closed because it had mechanical problems and was abandoned where it failed. Car 115 then became The Dew Drop Inn, a roadside diner, but is was later recovered by the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum where it awaits restoration. In this way Car 115 avoided being burnt twice, as the inn was destroyed by fire in 1995. In addition to Car 115, the museum also has the original Harmony dispatch board and a shelter from both the Harmony and Butler lines.
The station building in Ellwood City was retained as commercial premises. In 2007 it reopened as a donut shop and was renamed Ellwood Station as a reference to its origin. Rails remain in situ under part of the building. Koppel Bridge, which was built for the Beaver Valley extension in 1915 still exists and carries PA 351 over the Beaver River between Ellwood City and Koppel.
By 1920, films were shown for the entertainment of the line's passengers