MYERSVILLE, MD. -- Like a ghost from the early 1900s, trolley car No. 150 slides silently along the former Hagerstown & Frederick Railway route that runs through C. Donald Easterday's back yard.

It is not really moving. Because of an illusion, the 75-year-old trolley with peeling aqua paint appears to be gliding along tracks where Easterday has showcased his piece of transportation history.

The best place to spot the illusion is from a hill on his 30-acre property near Myersville. Like a child with a new toy, the 59-year-old Frederick County Farm Bureau administrator drives his visitor in a golf cart down the trolley roadbed and up the hillside.

"I've had quite a number of people who say, 'Look at that trolley. It's moving,' " Easterday said. "I think they realize that it isn't. It's our position in relationship to the waiting station and the trolley. As we move, it gives the illusion that the trolley is moving too."

The Hagerstown & Frederick Railway was typical of hundreds of electric trolley systems across the United States beginning in the 1880s.

The trolley system, founded in 1893, linked Hagerstown and Frederick with Shady Grove, Pa., and the Western Maryland communities of Williamsport, Beaver Creek, Boonsboro, Braddock Heights, Jefferson, Middletown, Myersville and Thurmont.

Ridership on the trolley system started to wane in the late 1920s as more automobiles brought about better roads. Freight traffic, however, remained steady.

"It carried a lot of cantaloupes from Boonsboro to market," Easterday said.

The trolley experienced a rebirth when gasoline and tires were rationed during World War II, but then ridership began declining again. The last trolley on the system ran from Frederick to Thurmont in February 1954.

"It was a lot of fun," Charlotte Wireman, 65, of Thurmont, said about riding it. "I had a boyfriend stationed at {what is now} Camp David, and he'd come down and we'd ride it from Thurmont to Frederick just for the fun of it."

"The motormen got to know the people. If you fell asleep, they'd stop and wake you and tell you that it was your stop."

Car No. 150, which had been used as part of a summer cabin on Braddock Mountain, is one of three remaining Hagerstown & Frederick trolley cars, Easterday said. Car No. 168 is parked at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds and No. 171 is under a shed roof on private property near Thurmont, he said.

Easterday's car was built in South Carolina and used to transport troops to and from Camp Jackson near Columbia, S.C., during World War I. The car, powered by four 50-horsepower motors, was purchased in 1923 by the 87.5-mile Hagerstown & Frederick Railway, also known as the Blue Ridge Trolley and the Heart of Maryland Route.

"That is a genuine antique," Easterday said. "It's an extremely rare find. Just think what you'd have if you had a 1918 automobile."

Ken Rucker, curator of the National Capital Trolley Museum in Wheaton, said there are lots of old streetcars left, but few are structurally sound. Some are used as homes; others are chicken coops and farm storage bins. The cars built from 1900 to 1930 are the most valuable, he said.

"It's not an especially rare thing to find, but invariably they have a great deal of weather damage," Rucker said. "What he intends to do with it, though, might be unusual."

After he restores the car, Easterday hopes to install video equipment for movies that would tell the story of the electric trolleys in the United States. School groups could tour the trolley and learn about the traction industry and trolley transportation before almost everyone had automobiles. He said he also would make his property available to other groups that might wish to promote the history of trolleys.

"That's sculpture on wheels -- rare sculpture on wheels," Easterday said, gazing at his car. "If that old thing could talk, it would have some stories to tell."