The Denver Tramway Company’s final street car — Streetcar No. 4 — clanged to a stop on July 3, 1950, and now, nearly seventy years later, the City of Arvada and the Arvada Historical Society want to restore it and display it near the city’s Gold Line transit station.
It will give today’s commuters a sense of how the transportation system they’re riding evolved, says Kim Grant, a consultant to the Arvada Historical Society.
“The streetcar was the main link between Arvada and downtown Denver in the days when there were few paved roads,” Grant says. “It was the reliable way to get downtown and back. It was a commuter kind of experience as well as a recreational thing.”
The Historical Society and the city have applied for a State Historical Fund grant to restore the streetcar, which has suffered from exposure to the elements and has rotting wood and broken windows.
The 1911 streetcar is one of only a few remaining streetcars from the Denver Tramway Company and one of only four cars converted from a standard-gauge rail to a narrow gauge. It served commuters for forty years.
Denver’s streetcar system started twelve years after the city was founded. Streetcars shaped the city by leading to the creation of commercial districts that emerged as key stops on the network. Those districts are still around today.
At the height of trolley operations, the Denver Tramway Company owned more than 160 miles of track and operated more than 250 streetcars. By 1950, when motor buses became popular, only 64 cars were still in use.
After being decommissioned in 1950, the Denver Tramway Company sold the old trolleys for $100 each. Streetcar No. 4 changed hands several times, first serving as a cabin near Rollinsville. It was then stored at the Forney Museum until it was donated to the Denver Rail Heritage Society in 2000.