The Evans Autorailer was a unique gasoline powered bus with retractable flanged pilot wheels with the ability to run on railroads. Six were acquired by the struggling Arlington & Fairfax Railway Company in June 1936, with an investment from Evans Product Company of Detroit. It was planned for these trolley replacements to run on rails through Rosslyn and convert to rubber tires to complete their trip over the Key Bridge into Georgetown. However, the Capital Transit Company successfully defended their exclusive franchise across the bridge, and the line ceased operation in January 1939.
Several of the autorailers were then acquired by the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad to use for line maintenance. This photo shows a W & O D autorailer converted for line maintenance with an added platform. The Fowler Carbonics building seen in the photo’s background later became the Cherry Smash soda plant in Arlington.
What About You?
Do you have memories or pictures of autorailers or other Northern Virginia rail or trolley lines? Please let us know!