Remembering the 'not exactly relaxing' path from Ellicott City to Baltimore via No. 9 streetcar

A peaceful walk or bike ride can be found along the Number Nine Trolley Trail, a path once traversed by a clanging yellow streetcar.

For decades, the No. 9 streetcar was an indispensable part of life for people who relied upon it to get from the suburbs to work, school and shops in downtown Baltimore.

“The ride into Baltimore was not exactly relaxing, but it was impressive and interesting,” Claude C. Tittsworth told The Baltimore Sun in 1980. Tittsworth rode the streetcar from downtown Ellicott City every weekday morning in 1928 to attend classes at the Maryland Institute College of Art. In the final downhill stretch from Oella to Ellicott City, the streetcar would pick up speed and roar through the rocky cliffs that had been blasted to make way for the train. “I think everyone aboard usually said some sort of prayer,” he said.

Service began with streetcars pulled by horses in 1862, and the rail line went electric in 1892. It was originally supposed to stretch all the way to Washington by way of Laurel, but the stretch from Laurel to Ellicott City was never built.

By the 1950s, ridership had declined substantially. The Baltimore Transit Company reported losing nearly $50,000 in one year of running the line. Though residents and public officials put up a fight, the transit company decided to close it. Late one night in June 1955, the streetcar “swayed and clattered for the last time,” The Sun reported. Passengers draped the old yellow streetcar in black crepe.

The Sun called it “the streetcar named retire.”

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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