The Rescue & Restoration of Trolley #93
On past editions of The Last Word, we've told you about the restoration of an historic locomotive in Corry. PA. But today, we're focusing on Chautauqua County, New York. We're going to find out about another restoration project. The restoration of an historic trolley.
It's old Number 93 that used to run along Willard Street in Jamestown, also known as Swede Hill. It was one of 8 new trolleys purchased by the Jamestown Street Railway in 1926, almost 100 years ago. Trolley service ended just 12 years later after buses and cars took over the streets. The trolleys were stripped down and most of them were turned into cottages along Chautauqua Lake. Decades later, local history buff Bob Johnston learned the location of Trolley 93.
"This one ended up as a hunting camp out in the woods of Dewittville, off of Thum Road. I found out about it and I said, 'We gotta see if we can save one,” remembers Bob.
Bob started the Jamestown Trolley Restoration Project in 2014. He soon was amazed to learn how much people in the area wanted to help. With the assistance of local contractor Jim Mitchener, the trolley was cleaned up and the woodwork was either repaired or replaced. People paid $600 to sponsor seats. A local bronze company donated the shiny seat handles. The original dome lights were donated as was an original Willard Street destination sign. The headlight was donated, the windows, the driver controls, the wheel truck, and the trolley pole on top...all donated. Quentin Johnson volunteered to paint the outside of the trolley.
"I had done a lot of painting because I have painted a few cars as a hobby,” he says. “I got into restoring antique outboard motors. I did about 200 of those. So, I've shot a lot of paint. Much smaller projects though. Much smaller."
After ten years, restoration of the trolley is pretty much finished, but a problem remains. Where to display it so the public can admire it? The trolley needs a showroom.
"The Fenton History Center in Jamestown is the local history group," says Bob. "They would be able to keep an eye on it. There's room on their property to build something."
The restoration of the trolley did not take much money. The building of a showroom will. So, the project to display a magnificent part of Chautauqua County history continues.
Persons interested in donating to a fund for the construction of a showroom are invited to call Bob Johnston at 716-338-5051. Information about the trolley restoration project can be found on the project’s web site, jamestowntrolley.org. Even though the trolley does not yet have a permanent home, is now stored at the Ideal Coatings plant on Delaware Street in Falconer. People are invited to come in and take a look.