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Puyallup's Old Line Trolley

by Jerry Bates

The Old Line trolley, TR&P Line (Tacoma Railway & Power Company), Puyallup’s first, operated from approximately 1889 to 1919. The trolley line started in Puyallup, then wound its way up the hill through Maplewood Springs (south of the Washington State Department of Game, Puyallup Fish Hatchery, see map) to 104 TH ST E and Woodland AV. This was the location of the trolley’s Woodland Station for South Hill passengers. From there it went west through Summit and Midland to Fern Hill and connected with the Tacoma/Spanaway trolley.

For residents of Puyallup and the Hill, it was, for a time, the only means of public transportation to Tacoma a very roundabout route for those living in Puyallup.

The part of the Old Line between Maplewood Springs and Woodland Station followed a path of least resistance to get from the valley floor to the top of the Hill. This path was the ravine that follows Clarks Creek. The trolley was notorious for its unsound accident-prone trestle that skirted along the treacherously steep ridge that climbs above the creek and the springs.

The Old Line was eventually replaced by the “Short Line”, the PSE (Puget Sound Electric Railway) which was a much more direct route to Tacoma for people in Puyallup. The Short Line electric trolley left Puyallup and crossed the Puyallup River, then went west through Firwood and on to a point west of Fife called Willow Junction. From there it followed what in later years would be Pacific Highway, US 99, which runs into Tacoma’s Puyallup Ave., then on to downtown Tacoma.

The era of electric trolleys came to an end in the late 1930’s when buses, that were more versatile and less expensive to operate, rapidly replaced trolleys, not to mention the ever-growing use of private automobiles over roads that were continually being improved.

Jerry Bates is South Hill Historical Society's Newsletter Editor and Webmaster.