Trolley Car at the Great Falls Park Station A car of the Washington and Old Dominion Railway, an electric railroad, at the Great Falls Park station, the last stop on the line. Completed in 1906, the service ran originally from Georgetown, back when the park was a resort and an escape from the heat and humidity of the city. Later it ran from Rosslyn, Virginia, when the old Aqueduct Bridge was replaced with Key Bridge with no allowance for tracks. The electric train, or trolley, brought changes to the Great Falls area, making commuting possible and visiting easier.
The trolley came to Great Falls in 1906 with great hoopla since the Fourth of July holiday was the official opening day of the line. Throngs came out from Washington on the electric cars to celebrate at the Falls. A just-built dance pavilion, a merry-goround, and picnic areas were ready for them. Success was overwhelming.
The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad ran originally from 34th and M Streets in Georgetown to Great Falls Park, fourteen miles, along the right of way that is now Old Dominion Drive. The trip, which had taken several hours by horse and wagon, was about 45 minutes by the new trolley.
The trolley service, was the first twentieth century improvement in transportation to make an impact directly on the close-in Great Falls area. Suburbia was being created.
The trolley or electric railroad was a venture of two prominent men John R. McLean, wealthy publisher of the Washington Post, and Senator Stephen B. Wilkins, West Virginia coal and rail tycoon. They were attracted to the project by the vast amount of undeveloped real estate between Washington and Great Falls, and by the prospects of a popular park.
By 1934 the railroad was discontinued, made obsolete by the popularity of cars. More roads were needed. After grass-roots support was mustered and key people of influence enlisted, the railroad right-of-way was taken into the highway system of Virginia in 1939. Old Dominion Drive resulted. (From the 2000 GFHS Calendar.)