Denver Tramway Company Streetcar No.4

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Year Listed: 2015
County: Jefferson County
Construction Date: 1911
Threat When Listed: Demolition by Neglect – Vacant
Status: IN PROGRESS

Video courtesy of CBS4

On July 3, 1950 the clatter of Denver’s once thriving transportation system fell quiet as the last streetcar for the Denver Tramway Company (Streetcar No.04) completed its final route.

Today, Streetcar No. 04 is one of the only remaining streetcars from the Denver Tramway Company, a rare narrow gauge car, which at one time carried passengers from downtown Denver to Lakeside Amusement Park, Berkeley Park, Arvada, Golden, and beyond.  For nearly fifty years the electric streetcar served as the main link from Denver to the suburbs, a beloved icon that was one of the most advanced transportation systems of the nineteenth century.  Built in 1911, Streetcar No.04 serviced commuters for 40 years running until 1950. The car was one of four converted from a standard gauge rail to a narrow gauge in 1924 and is the only surviving narrow gauge car.

Denver’s streetcar system began 12 years after the founding of the city and physically shaped Denver as we know it today.  The story of Denver’s streetcar system tells the evolution of the city, which is still evident in Denver’s embedded commercial districts that emerged as key stops on the robust streetcar network.  For nearly 40 years, Denver streetcars transported passengers throughout the city for work, play, and errands.  At the height of trolley operations the Denver Tramway Company owned more than 160 miles of track and operated over 250 streetcars.  By 1950 only 64 cars were still in use as motor buses began to take favor.  After being decommissioned in 1950, the Denver Tramway Company sold the old trolleys for $100 each.  Ownership of Streetcar No. 04 changed hands many times, first serving as a cabin near Rollinsville. It was then stored at the Forney Museum until it was eventually donated to the Denver Rail Heritage Society in 2000. The car has suffered from exposure to the elements and is currently in poor condition. The wood siding is rotting, its windows broken, and the distinctive yellow metal siding rusting and missing.  Without a secure, protected location, No.04 will continue to deteriorate into oblivion like the entire electric streetcar system.   The first priority for future preservation and conservation of the car is to protect it from further damage through exposure.

Colorado Preservation, Inc. selected Streetcar No.04 as endangered, recognizing its significance to Denver as well as its opportunity to bring awareness to the role the streetcar played in the development of the community.  The City of Arvada has received a $200,000 State Historic Fund grant and identified additional matching resources needed to begin rehabilitation of the trolley.

In 2018, the Friends of the .04 Trolley organization was formed to raise awareness of the importance of the streetcar, identify additional funding for display and interpretation, and help with finalizing a site for this important resource.

 

Video produced by Arvada Media Services and KATV-8

Additional Links:
Official Trolley Website
Streetcar in Denver

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