Issaquah’s trolley is ready to roll
August 6, 2013
By Peter Clark
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
- Issaquah Train Depot
- 150 First Ave. N.
- Aug. 10 and 11
- 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Donations accepted