Anacostia and Potomac River Railroad

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Main article: Washington streetcars

The Anacostia and Potomac River Railroad Company was the fourth streetcar company to operate in Washington, D.C. and the first to cross the Anacostia River. It was chartered in 1870, authorized by Congress in 1875 and built later that year. The line ran from the Arsenal (now Fort McNair) to Union Town (now Historic Anacostia). It expanded, adding lines to Congressional Cemetery, Central Market and to the Government Hospital for the Insane; and in the late 1890s it purchased two other companies and expanded their lines. It was reluctant to change its operations, but in 1900 it relented to pressure and became the last company to switch from horse cars to electric streetcars. It was one of the few companies not to be swept up by the two major streetcar companies at the turn of the 20th century, but it could not hold out forever and on August 31, 1912, it was purchased by the Washington Railway and Electric Company and ceased to operate as a unique entity.

Origins[edit]

Map of the Washington, D.C. Streetcar System at the end of the Horse Car era in 1888

The Anacostia and Potomac River Railroad was chartered on May 5, 1870, given approval by Congress on February 18, 1875[1] and constructed across the Anacostia River later that year. The streetcars traveled from the Arsenal, along M Street SW/SE and 11th Street SE, and crossed the Navy Yard Bridge to Uniontown (now Historic Anacostia). The route then led down Nichols Avenue SE (now Martin Luther King Avenue) to V Street SE where a car barn and stables were maintained by the company.[2]

Expansion[edit]

On August 1, 1888 the railroad was permitted to expand from the Navy Yard to Congressional Cemetery along 11th Street SE and G Street SE, and past Garfield Park to the Center Market (now the National Archives) in downtown. It completed the expansion later that year. At the same time it was permitted to expand along Nichols Avenue past the Government Hospital for the Insane (now St. Elizabeths Hospital) to the District boundary, though it only made it as far as Alabama Avenue SE.[1]

The next year, on June 24, 1898 the Anacostia and Potomac River continued its expansion by purchasing the Belt Railway and extended its 11 Street line from F street NW to Florida Avenue NW. In 1899 it purchased the Capital Railway.[3]

Switch to Electric Power[edit]

The company finally switched from horses to electric in April 1900. It was the last horse-drawn streetcar to run in the District.[4] Image

The End of the Line[edit]

One of several extant manhole covers from the Anacostia and Potomac River Railroad Company

In the 1890s and early 20th century most of the Washington, D.C. streetcars came under the control of the Capital Traction Company or the Washington Railway and Electric Company. The Anacostia and Potomac River, though initially involved, avoided being purchased during this period. Nonetheless, on August 31, 1912 the Washington Railway purchased the controlling stock of the Anacostia and Potomac River and it ceased to run as a separate company.[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Laws Relating to Street-railway Franchises in the District of Columbia. Washington, D.C.: United States, District of Columbia Board of Commissioners. 1896. 
  2. ^ Alan Eckmann et al. (April 2004). "Anacostia Corridor Demonstration Project - Environmental Assessment" (PDF). District of Columbia Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2007-01-24. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b Tindall, Dr. William (1918). Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C.: Beginning of Street Railways in the National Capital. Charlottesville, VA: Columbia Historical Society. pp. 24–118. 
  4. ^ Tindall, William (1914). Standard History of the City of Washington from a Study of the Original Sources. Knoxville, TN: H. W. Crew & Co. pp. 414–429.