History of Transit in the Harrisburg Area

Looking Back……

Harrisburg Railways Company was always a very innovative private transit company – especially so under the management of the late Colonial Harley L. Swift.

Mr. Swift, wanting to add to HR’s revenue source, decided to explore some limited special and charter work (at the time they were limited to doing specials only within the state of Pennsylvania). Not wanting to spend additional funds on new charter only vehicles he converted three regular route buses into “charter” vehicles.

The most unique were bus #s 421 and #425 which had been plying the streets of Harrisburg since they were delivered new in 1936. These two buses were cut down to become the first open-air buses in the fleet – Mr. Swift named them Conodoquinet” (#421) and “Mahantango” (#425)…both Indian names for tribes which, we understand, were based along the Susquehanna River.

The open tops were in demand for parades, hayrides, weddings, Christmas caroling, etc. Perhaps, the highlight of their tenure of service was providing transportation for General Dwight Eisenhower when he was campaigning for the presidency in 1952. As late as 1970 they were still in service at associated transit systems in Wilmington, Del. and Allentown, PA.

The photo above shows #425 parked on “9-track” waiting its next assignment.

Another interesting chapter in Harrisburg’s rich transit history.