Washington & Georgetown 212

Built in:1892 by John Stephenson Car Company
Out-of-service/Retired:1933 (1913)
Type of car:streetcar (trailer)
Current Owner:Smithsonian Institution(Washington, District of Columbia)

Car History by Wesley Paulson

Washington & Georgetown 212
Washington & Georgetown Railroad Company purchased fifty-eight single-truck closed trailers from Stephenson in 1892 to equip its newly converted horse car routes for cable car service. The cars were numbered and lettered for the routes they served: numbers 201-232, including W&G 212 on Pennsylvania Avenue, and 1-28 on the 14th Street route. In 1895, W&G merged with the Rock Creek Railway to form the Capital Traction Company (CTCo). Following a disastrous fire that consumed the main cable car powerhouse on September 29, 1897, CTCo equipped its cable cars and trailers as horse cars until receiving orders of single truck motors in 1898. In 1906, CTCo stopped lettering the exterior of its cars for specific routes and renumbered its single truck cars and trailers. CTCo 212 became CTCo 1512 and continued to serve on the Pennsylvania Avenue route. The cars were also repainted in a simpler green and cream scheme at this time. In 1912, The District of Columbia Public Utilities Commission issued an order effective February 1, 1913 requiring a conductor on each car. As a result, CTCo withdrew all single truck passenger equipment from service on January 31, 1913. CTCo sold a large number of these surplus cars in the next few years, but retained CTCo 1512 in storage.

The arrival of the PCC cars in 1937 brought CTCo 1512 into the spotlight as part of a parade to introduce the new cars to Washington. Coupled with motor car 303, CTCo 1512 operated briefly again on the streets of Washington on August 27, 1937. Capital Transit cars 1101, 1106 and another new car toured the city with the train leading the way as a publicity stunt.

Capital Transit, and later DC Transit continued to offer CTCo 303 and 1512 for fan trip service until CTCo 303 pulled a plow on a trip in 1961. In 1952 CTCo 1512 made a solo trip in the annual Cherry Blossom parade as a float on a flat bed trailer. Continuing a long-standing tradition, railfans dressed in costume and rode in the trailer as passengers on the float.

Under the management of O. Roy Chalk, DC Transit retained ownership of CTCo 1512 after streetcar service ended on January 28, 1962. During the 1960s, Mr., Chalk dispatched the train to the company's main bus facility in Bladensburg, where the shop crew restored the cars' exterior appearance as W&G 212. Chalk had the train and its motor car installed in the boardroom on the main floor of the former carhouse at 36th & M Streets, where they remained until donation to the Smithsonian in the early 1970s. W&G 212 is now stored serviceable in the Smithsonian's facility in Suitland, MD.

Ownership History:Washington & Georgetown #212 1892-1895 / Capital Traction #212 1895-1933 / Capital Traction #1512 1906-1933 / 1st preserved by Capital Transit 1933-1956 / later preserved by DC Transit 1956-1975 / Smithsonian Institution(Washington, District of Columbia) 1975-present

Facts and Figures

Status:stored operableGauge:4'8.5"
Construction:woodRoof type:DREnded:DE
#Seats#Wheels/Conf.:4 (2)Total HP
MotorsVoltage (if not 600DC)


Originally a cable trailer; located in Suitland, Maryland