Year Listed: 2015
County: Jefferson County
Construction Date: 1911
Threat When Listed: Demolition by Neglect – Vacant
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 history of the streetcar. Long-term plans hope to have the streetcar restored to its 1950s appearance and have it on display at one of Arvada’s new light rail stations.
Video produced by Arvada Media Services and KATV-8