How Trolleys Helped Ballston’s Development

Published August 31, 2017

In following our other blog posts on how salvaged pieces from The Blue Goose were used to create markers placed along the side of the Marymount’s new building, we are again covering some interesting history of Ballston. Did you know that the competition from trolleys helped further develop Ballston?

Another sign posted along the path beside Marymount University is one titled “Trolleys Come to Ballston.”

This sign reads:

“Trolleys Come to Ballston

The Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railway (WA&FC) established an interurban electric trolley along the present route of Fairfax Drive in 1896. The WA&FC’s Fairfax trolley line ran through this site to Clarendon (about one mile to the east), where it branched to serve both Rosslyn and downtown Washington, D.C. This site gained prominence in 1911, when the WA&FC built a compound here containing the Lacey rail yard, an electrical substation and a building that housed a car barn, the company’s general offices, and a repair shop.

In 1912, the Washington and Old Dominion Railway, a competing interurban electric trolley company, constructed a branch that connected Georgetown, Rosslyn, Ballston, Falls Church, Vienna, Leesburg and Loudoun County. This line crossed the west end of Ballston near this site and further encouraged Ballston’s development and other communities along its route. Despite early success, the trolleys in Northern Virginia were unable to survive competition with each other and the automobile, and ceased operations in the 1930s and 1940s.”

We encourage you to stop by Marymount’s new campus at 1000 Glebe Road, Arlington, Virginia to see the new signs as well as Ballston’s most recent additions.

-The Shooshan Company