Looking forward to seeing you in 2021
C.L. “Chick” Siebert
Born in 1915 in Camp Hill, PA, C. L. “Chick” Siebert, Jr was familiar with the trolley cars of south central Pennsylvania when his family moved to Meadville in 1925. He soon came to fall in love with the little Birney safety cars that ran the local streets. The latticework tower for the trolley to reach the wire was strange indeed. Living for a year at the end of the Baldwin Street line provided him with plenty of opportunity to watch the motorman walking the single trolley pole around those little cars. When hand-braked old number 8 substituted for a regular car, the motorman got underway by kicking off the brake at the rear and sauntering down the aisle to the front platform as the car rolled down the hill.
Shortly thereafter his family would move to the top of North Main Street next to the interurban line to Erie, and the big red cars were one of his main interests. The motormen’s pin-striped overalls and regulation blue caps caught his eye. The handsomely ornamented style of the big wood 100’s exhibited all of the cars builder’s art and the steel 300’s looked very modern and efficient. To make matters even better, his father’s downtown office was across the street from the traction station and car barn and it looked down on the streets where the interurbans returned after every trip.
In 1928 his family would move back to south central Pennsylvania but Chick would never lose the memories of those wonderful years in Meadville and his love for the local trolleys. Graduating from Penn State in 1939 he would return to Meadville in search of the each of those cars which were discontinued ten years earlier. It was at that time he began to make O scale models of the cars that were etched deep in his memories. After he was not able to locate any available blueprints for make of the cars he sought out the trolleys wherever they were located at that time and would make his own prints. He would go on to become a master modular and in fact number 62 in the United States and the first to specialize in trolley cars. His models over the years included 23 from the lines that ran in Meadville and the interurban lines to Linesville, Cambridge Springs and Erie. Some of these models took as long as a year to complete.
Interrupted by World War II, he would spend five years serving his country as a captain with the Army Corp of Engineers After the was he was employed by the Pennsylvania Sanity Water Board, later the Department of Environmental Resources. Retiring in 1975 he returned to the area to research the history of his beloved trolley lines that had graced the local landscape during his youth in the first quarter of the twentieth century. His extensive research would be publishing ing 1976 in the book “Northwestern Pennsylvania Railway” His research included his page by page search of old issues of the Erie Railway Journal of the entire span of the line’s existence. He completed similar research in of newspapers including the Meadville Tribune with extensive details. He studied the state Corporation Bureau records which also yielded many useful facts. He also interviewed former employees which included Fay Satterlee, Osborne Shyrok, Harry McGinnis and Lee Vaughn. He searched through the photo archives of L. Vincent Kupper, longtime Edinboro photographer, for the images which were made available by Endiboro University professors Dr, John Marsh and Karl Nordberg.
We here in Northwestern Pennsylvania will forever be in debt to Chick for his tireless research efforts that enable us to have a much better understanding of the trolley history in our area. Only through his extensive research are we able to truly understand and appreciate this period of history and the dramatic effect it had on shaping the first quarter of the twentieth century.