Keystone Model Railroad Historical Society
About Our Building
Our clubhouse was purchased by KMRHS in March of 1986. It was built in the first decade of the 20th Century as power substation for the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Dillsburg electric trolley line.
The Dillsburg & Mechanicsburg Railway Company was started in 1872 and, when finished, leased to the Cumberland Valley railroad. Its purpose was to move iron ore from mines about a mile East of Dillsburg; from 1900 to 1910 a lot of ore cars pulled by steam engines traveled the line.
In 1905 the line announced it was being electrified. This was to provide trolley service and used a rather unique structure for its time. Instead of electric lines directly overhead, the lines were placed 3 feet outside the rail. This saved them from the blasts of steam engines and allowed brakemen to walk the tops of cars (as was the practice in those days) without being harmed. This meant, however, the need for a special type of trolley.
Wooden poles were set in concrete on the east side of the track. Flexible brackets carried the 600 volt DC wire and at sidings where it did not cross the track, a separate wire line was installed. This meant that the cars had four (4) trolley poles per car with only one in use at any time; operators had to manually connect the correct pole to run direction and sidings.
The Dillsburg “Toonerville” as it was called, ran faithfully for over 30 years. Running time from Mechanicsburg to Dillsburg was 25 minutes in either direction. In the mid 1920’s business fell off and the last run of an electric was quietly made on January, 15, 1928. The next day, the Gettysburg & Harrisburg Transportation Company, using buses, took over the mail service to Dillsburg; the Williams Grove station closed with the end of railroad service.