The Electric Streetcar

Cupric streetcar token from United RY and Elec Co. Baltimore. Says "Good for One Fare" on one side.

Cupric Streetcar Token

by Kayla MarciniszynCART Assistant Lab Director

The evolution of transportation throughout the years is always a fascinating topic, especially when it is evident in the archaeological record. Electric streetcars became a popular method of public transportation, primarily in urban areas, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Baltimore, New York, and San Francisco are among the more prominent cities to adopt a railway system during that period. Most companies stamped their tokens with the company name or logo, making them diagnostic if found in the archaeological record.

This cupric token was recovered by CART during a recent project. It is stamped with “United RY and Elec Co. Baltimore,” telling us the token belonged to the United Railways and Electric Company of Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore had a number of competing railways, so in an effort to merge the companies together the United Railways and Electric Company was formed in 1899 (Davis 2005). The use of railways peaked between 1900 and 1929, eventually declining during the Great Depression. The company was reorganized in 1935, becoming the Baltimore Transit Company, which included both streetcars and buses. As cheaper transportation and cars became more available, fewer people used Baltimore’s streetcar system. Baltimore’s last streetcar ceased its service in 1963 (Davis 2005).


Davis, Sarah. 2005. “Baltimore Streetcar Transportation.” Maryland State Archives. Accessed December 21, 2016.

Further Reading:

Helton, Gary. 2008. Baltimore’s Streetcars and Buses. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing.

About cartarchaeology

We are the County Archaeological Research Team, part of the Archaeology and Collections Branch, Resource Management Division, Fairfax County Park Authority. We are tasked with understanding and managing the cultural resources on Park land throughout Fairfax County.
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