Here Come the Electrics! The Horses Breathe a Sign of Relief

November 9, 1895

The last horse-drawn streetcar in Detroit made its final run. Banners on each side of the vehicle read “The last horse car.” Two horses pulled it along the Chene Street line, which was the last of Detroit’s streetcar routes to be equipped with electric streetcars.

“Detroit takes final leave of the horse car to-day,” reported the Detroit Free Press. “The last relic of the antiquated system is to be removed and we are abreast with the wonderful age of electricity.” The article also noted, “A few years have wrought a great change in the transportation facilities of this city, and instead of bringing up the rear of the procession it is at the very head.”

A large crowd was on hand that rainy Saturday afternoon as the now-anachronistic horse-drawn streetcar made its way down Monroe Avenue and then onto Woodward Avenue. While a local band performed music, the streetcar was hauled up Woodward Avenue to the front of city hall. After both horses were untethered from the vehicle, it was attached to an electric streetcar that continued the journey to Detroit Mayor Hazen S. Pingree’s home.

That electric streetcar eventually brought its outmoded counterpart back to city hall. By that time, the older streetcar’s roof, doors, seats, advertisements, and various other features had been removed by a number of souvenir hunters en route.

This concluding run of Detroit’s horse-drawn streetcars marked the end of a transportation era that had begun for the city more than three decades earlier. The electric streetcar operations replacing the use of those older transit vehicles would remain in service in Detroit until 1956.

For more information on the final run of Detroit’s last horse-drawn streetcar, please check out https://blogpublic.lib.msu.edu/red-tape/2017/nov/november-9-1895-last-horse-drawn-streetcar-detroit/.

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