Unearthed Homewood trolley tracks and bricks from the 1920s to be preserved

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Homewood trolley tracks
Trolley tracks and bricks unearthed on Broadway Street in Homewood. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

Unearthed trolley tracks and brick down the center of Broadway street in the city of Homewood will be preserved, according to Homewood City Councilor Barry Smith.

The 1920s tracks and bricks were discovered in April when a road construction company was preparing the street for re-paving. The City of Homewood halted construction on that portion of the road, and tasked Dunn Construction to have an expert examine the city’s options.

Video from WVTM NBC 13 about the discovery of the tracks in April

“We asked whether it could be preserved. Was it going to be feasible safety-wise and cost wise to preserve that section of the road,” said Smith.

Smith told Bham Now that the expert came back with an option that would preserve that section of the street and that the trolley tracks and bricks would be visible. She also added that the roadway will be safe for cars and that the new option preserving the tracks and bricks did fall within the budget to pave Broadway.

Trolley tracks and bricks unearthed on Broadway Street in Homewood. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

“Its a great piece of history. A lot of people in Homewood really did want to see it preserved and have this piece of history to remind people we did have a trolley run through their neighborhood,” Smith concluded.

According to Bhamwiki, the trolley tracks on Broadway were originally part of the Birmingham and Edgewood Electric Railway’s streetcar route in the 1910s and 1920s. The streetcar stopped running prior to World War II.

Birmingham Streetcar map up until the 1940s. The map was created by local railway historian James Lowery. Photo by Pat Byington.

Todd Keith, author of Birmingham Then & Now and Insiders’ Guide to Birmingham, lives on Broadway Street and is excited about what the preservation of this slice of history might mean.

“You can’t value something until you know it exists. Or once existed,” Keith says. “I know that sounds a bit obvious, but Broadway and Edgewood were once connected to one of the more extensive streetcar networks in the South, stretching to downtown Birmingham, Woodlawn, Bessemer, Wenonah, Ensley, East Lake and beyond.

Imagine that, a possible return-to-the-future scenario where my family could walk out our front door, catch a streetcar over the mountain and have a drink at Dave’s Pub and then grab a meal in Southside. Wouldn’t that be nice? Or ride to downtown Homewood and grab a hotdog at Sam’s Super Sandwiches for lunch and shop for a bit “On the Curve,” then head home. Preserving and making the streetcar line’s remains visible makes this a more real possibility at some point. I love that.”

Work starts next week

Work on the new design and repaving of Broadway is scheduled to begin next week. Because it was came within budget there were no additional approvals needed.

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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