Issaquah’s trolley is ready to roll

August 6, 2013

By Peter Clark

All aboard!

By Peter Clark After the trolley presentation July 23, attendees were invited to tour No. 519 on its track and ask questions of the conductors.

By Peter Clark
After the trolley presentation July 23, attendees were invited to tour No. 519 on its track and ask questions of the conductors.

The Issaquah Valley Trolley, a committee of the Issaquah History Museums, invites the public to hop on renovated streetcar No. 519 as it begins 2013 service Aug. 10.

Traveling a half-mile from the Issaquah Train Depot to the bridge near the Darigold Creamery, the trolley will carry passengers from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends through summer and into fall.

At an open house July 23, committee members who had a hand in acquiring the trolley, repairing it and launching the volunteer-led operation told their story to a gathering of interested citizens.

“Most people don’t remember the great era of the streetcar,” Issaquah Valley Trolley committee member Craig Thorpe said. Dressed in a black conductor’s uniform, he spoke glowingly of a time when the streetcar was a regular transit experience. “There is an intimacy that can be had even on a short ride like ours. If Issaquah had ever had a streetcar, it would have been a trolley.”

Thorpe said that interest in using a trolley on the aging tracks around Front Street began in the early 1900s. After the committee deemed an initial test project in 2001, conducted with a trolley leased from the Yakima Valley Trolley, it committed to finding a streetcar that could operate on the limited rail.

Thorpe said that with the help of the city, Microsoft and numerous other donors, Issaquah Valley Trolley was able to purchase a trolley. No. 519 was constructed in 1925 in Pittsburgh, used for years in Lisbon, Portugal, and bought while sitting in Aspen, Colo.

Issaquah History Museums President Ed Seil said that establishing the trolley in such a historic part of the city fell directly in line with the organization’s aim.

“Issaquah History Museums’ goal is to discover, share and preserve,” Seil said. “This will help attract people to both museums and give people a feel for what it was like to ride the streetcar in the early 1990s.”

Thorpe said the specifics of the trolley’s operation are still being decided.

“It will be on a donation basis,” he said. “We’re testing how this is going to work. As long as the weekend weather is decent, we’ll do that.”

He also said that the committee is examining using the trolley for charter trips and possibly in Christmas celebrations.

Additionally, he said that the trolley is wheelchair and scooter accessible.

Looking into the future, Thorpe said that they would like the track to run all the way down the existing seven-eighths of a mile down to Gilman Boulevard. Currently, however, the bridge by Darigold is in need of repair to support the streetcar’s weight.

Short though the track may be, Thorpe was optimistic about the impact it would have on the community when it begins to run.

“Even as we did a test run, wide-eyed kids were running down to look,” he said. “We want to give something that you need, something that’s historic and something that makes history and doesn’t just repeat it.”

 

If you go

Trolley Rides

  • Issaquah Train Depot
  • 150 First Ave. N.
  • Aug. 10 and 11
  • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Donations accepted

 

Bookmark and Share
Other Stories of Interest: , , ,

Comments

4 Responses to “Issaquah’s trolley is ready to roll”

  1. D Cooke on August 7th, 2013 5:27 am

    Brilliant. Traffic on Front street is already so smooth, adding a Portugese trolley that travels from nowhere to nowhere, but crosses Front street on its way each time will certainly help.

  2. Smoley on August 7th, 2013 9:01 am

    “Issaquah History Museums’ goal is to discover, share and preserve,” Seil said. “This will help attract people to both museums and give people a feel for what it was like to ride the streetcar in the early 1990s.”

    Yeah, you just need an unwashed goateed conductor wearing flannel and an onboard sound system blasting “Smells like Trolley Spirit” to the passengers to complete that early 1990′s experience.

    LOL. Shouldn’t that be “early 1900′s”?

  3. Jim Allen on August 10th, 2013 1:29 pm

    What a great idea, when I lived in Europe, people used the trolley, just like we did in 1938 in Seattle, until they tore them out for the car. For the Red Neck complaining about the traffic, maybe he should leave his gas guzzeling truck out on the farm where it belongs like I do on my Ranch in Montana. Keep up the good work, the only complaint I have is that it is not longer.

  4. Doug on August 13th, 2013 4:21 pm

    A trolley would be nice if it served a purpose like those in Europe. When 5% of the ride is crossing the street it’s pointless and just a novelty.

Got something to say?

Before you comment, please note:

  • These comments are moderated.
  • Comments should be relevant to the topic at hand and contribute to its discussion.
  • Personal attacks and/or excessive profanity will not be tolerated and such comments will not be approved.
  • This is not your personal chat room or forum, so please stay on topic.