Electric Streetcar, Capital Traction Co. # 303

The American Car Company of St. Louis, Missouri, built this 4-wheel, electric motor cars built for Capital Traction Company of Washington, D.C. The car was one of sixteen, and was designated number 303 and assigned to the 7th Street line, which ran from the Wharves to Boundary (now Florida Avenue). This car was used as a motor car and regularly pulled a light trailer car until its retirement from regular service in 1913. Single-truck cars like this one were replaced by larger, more comfortable double truck cars.
The first Washington streetcars were horse-drawn and went into service in 1862, much later than New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. Electric cars first appeared in 1888, and, by the turn of the century, nearly 200 miles of line were in operation. As in other large American cities, street-car traffic began to fall off in the 1920s because of the automobile. Large-scale abandonment began in the late 1950s, and early in 1962 the last streetcar ceased operation in the nation's capital.
Because overhead wires were not permitted in the District of Columbia, an underground conduit system at the track's center was employed for electrical collection. Washington was one of the few cities in the world to use an underground conduit. The streetcar therefore has an extension affixed to the underside of the car that connected with an electric conduit between the trolley tracks.
The wood car body is painted yellow and white with gold and black striping. The interior is mahogany and has two longitudinal seats. Above each interior door is a fair counter. There is a controller and brake on each platform.
Object Name
streetcar, electric
Date made
Associated Date
Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America
era 6 period association
Era 6:
era 7 period association
Era 7:
American Car Company
American Car Company
Physical Description
wood (body material)
steel (trucks material)
yellow (overall color)
white (overall color)
gold (overall color)
black (overall color)
overall: 11 in x 8 in x 26 in; 27.94 cm x 20.32 cm x 66.04 cm
Place Made
United States: Missouri, Saint Louis
where used
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Arts, Leisure and Recreation
Daily Life
World War I
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Railroad
American on the Move
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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