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Photo of the Week


"How shall we know it is us without our past?"
- John Steinbeck

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian

A Suffolk Traction Co. Streetcar, c. 1911. (Image from the Brookhaven Town Pictorial Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

The Suffolk Traction Company was a short-lived streetcar system that operated between Patchogue and Holtsville in about 1911 to 1919. It also included a route that serviced Blue Point, Bayport, and Sayville.

The vehicle was the latest thing in electric streetcar construction. Manufactured by the Federal Storage Battery Car Company, the car used an Edison battery that could run 52 miles without recharging. It was capable of running at a "good rate of speed" depending on the number of batteries with which it was equipped. It was not flawless, however; sometimes it went dead enroute through a short circuit or other cause, and had to be towed in by a team of horses or pushed by another car.

On July 1, 1911, the first streetcar ran down Main Street, Patchogue, and everybody who could climb aboard rode for free. A newspaper article from the time period notes that Patchogue's street car was running on a regular hourly schedule between the corner of Main Street and Ocean Avenue to the post office in Blue Point. It averaged about 900 passengers on a Saturday from noon to midnight, 750 on a Sunday, and more than 1,000 on a Monday. The tracks were completed to Holtsville and rails were laid in Port Jefferson, but the line was never completed and Holtsville was as far as it got before the company went bankrupt. On October 10, 1919, the last streetcar ran in Patchogue.


Don't miss our Quiet Places of the North Fork exhibit featuring the work of North Fork artist Diane Alec Smith. On exhibit for a limited time in our Gish Gallery, this collection of acrylic paintings is a rich tribute to the beauty and preservation of Suffolk County's natural environment as well as a showcase of the extraordinary talents of a lifelong member of our community. The exhibit will run until December 22, 2017. Gallery Hours: Weds. - Sat., 10:00 am - 4:30 pm.


The Suffolk County Historical Society’s PHOTO OF THE WEEK Series is created by head research librarian Wendy Polhemus-Annibell using historic primary source materials from our local history library’s extensive archives. To subscribe, visit our website or send an email request to Wendy at librarian@schs-museum.org 

Interested in seeing more historical documents from the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society? Spend an afternoon at our Local History Research Library perusing our extensive collections. We're open Weds. - Sat., 12:30 - 4:30 PM.

To view our Photo of the Week archives, visit our website at www.SuffolkCountyHistoricalSociety.org.



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The Suffolk County Historical Society, founded in 1886, collects and preserves the rich history of Suffolk County and beyond. We offer a history museum, art galleries, a research library and archives, and a multitude of exhibits, programs, and educational lectures and workshops year-round. Our unique collections reflect more than three centuries of Long Island history. Click here to learn about Member Benefits!


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