Identifying the 1911 Osgood Bradley Trolley Number 1068
By Richard Shappy
Several years ago, when we discovered the trolley disguised as a diner in West
Warwick, Rhode Island, we knew that we had found a piece of transportation
history. After a little research, we learned that we had found an "Osgood
Bradley" car which was once part of the great United Electric Railway System
(UER) which provided transportation for thousands of people in the Rhode
Island community beginning in 1892. After a little more research, we learned
that thirty-one Osgood Bradley cars were purchased by the company in 1911, and
each was assigned a different serial number. The "Bradley" cars from the 1911
series were numbered 1068 to 1099 and, naturally, before we embarked on the
restoration of this car, we were very interested in knowing exactly which car
of the series we had found.
After reviewing photos from the Richard Wanson collection, we learned that the large "8" car numbers could be found at either end of the car's exterior or on the interior bulkhead sections. This would have been easy had these sections not been removed and discarded when the old trolley was converted into a diner. After conferring with the experts at the Seashore Museum in Maine and the Bradford Museum in Connecticut, we were told that it was common for the manufacturer to place the serial numbers on the under-carriage or on the interior window sashes. After many hours lying on our backs under the car, we came up empty and could not find the identifying numbers.
Many months had passed and, although we were not going to let this halt the
restoration, we really wanted to find the identifying numbers. In October
2004, the steel building which was constructed specifically to house the
trolley was completed, and the car was moved inside. The workers which
included steel fabricators and carpenters were given specific instructions to
be on special watch for numbers, and to stop work immediately if any were
found. Months had passed, and we still had not found the elusive identifying
numbers. In mid July, my son, Brandon, and his friend Rob Despres joined the
restoration project and were given the tedious job of stripping the many
layers of paint that had accumulated in the past ninety years plus. I was
away July 27th, 2005 at a vintage motorcycle show in Hebron, Connecticut when
I got the call. Chris Brayton was on the phone shouting with jubilation that
Rob had "found the numbers"! While stripping paint from one of the few
remaining window sashes, Rob spotted the numbers, "1068".
We now know exactly which car we have, and are currently compiling all the
information we can find pertaining to #1068. We already know that #1068 was
delivered to Rhode Island on December 14, 1912, and was put into service on
the Broad Street line where it remained until 1939.