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New ornament celebrates Alexandria’s original trolley

Ornament representing Car 303 of the Mount Vernon Alexandria & Washington Electric Railway (photo via Office of Historic Alexandria)

Did you know that a little over 90 years before the King Street trolley started ferrying visitors through Old Town, another streetcar ran from Del Ray up into D.C.?

A new Christmas ornament for sale for $25 through the Office of Historic Alexandria celebrates the city’s first streetcar — which ran for 14 years before the popularity of the car helped drive it out of businesses.

“Car 303 of the Mount Vernon Alexandria & Washington Electric Railway was one of a fleet of art deco cars purchased in 1918 for the essential trolley line that connected Del Ray commuters to DC and tourists to Mount Vernon,” the city said in the ornament description. “Car 303 ran until the railway’s closure in 1932.”

According to the Library of Virginia, the Washington, Alexandria and Mount Vernon Electric Railway was the first successful electric trolley line in the country.

“This company created the nation’s first successful electric trolley line, which ran between Alexandria and Mount Vernon,” library documents said. “By 1896 the company had expanded their tracks and were also using tracks owned by the Belt Line Street Railway Company, which operated in Washington D.C. Soon after railways began to expand into other portions of northern Virginia, allowing for more travel. However, their expansion was threatened in the 1920s when patronage declined due to the availability of other options such as buses and personal automobiles, forcing many companies out of business.”

The ornament’s description said the trolley car became a diner in 1936.

“Historic Alexandria’s 2021 holiday ornament commemorates a period of the City’s growth as it began the transition from industrial manufacturer to DC suburb and history tourism destination,” the city said.

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