JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – A historic Jamestown Trolley car is looking for a permanent home, a place where it can be on display for the public to see.
Bob Johnston, founder of the Jamestown Trolley Car Restoration Project, began efforts to restore Car #93 in 1996, after he located and acquired the old trolley car.
“We went out, Thumb Road up near Dewittville, and walked down this hunting camp road as I call it because the trolley had originally been a cottage on the lake once the trolley line went out of business. It had become now a hunting camp, a person purchased the car from the cottage place and dragged it out into the woods where a bunch of his buddies would get together and go out hunting and play cards all night,” says Johnston.
Johnston, along with a few others, took on the momentous task of removing the trolley from the woods and bringing it back to Jamestown, seventy years after the city first purchased it.
The trolley was then located at the old bus garage, until it was moved in 2013 to the Gateway Train Station where restoration began.
“I take some credit but not very much of it,” admits Johnston. “Jim Mitchner is the main craftsman. He had worked in construction and he was very good with wood. And a lot of the wood that needed to be redone for this, he did most of that. I did a lot of the grunt work. If we needed to find things, I found them. We needed to help clean them up and do things.”
With the help of an endowment fund that has reached $18,000 after decades of donations, the trolley has been almost fully restored.
However, Johnston must now find a permanent home for the trolley, so that its history can be shared with generations to come.
“So now we’re in the process of trying to figure out how we’re gonna pay for a new building to put the car in to save what is pretty much the last remaining street car in Chautauqua County that actually transported people around. I always say, if these walls could talk. It’s amazing the number of people, this was a Swede Hill Trolley, number 93. And it had a turn around up at Willard and Willow,” explains Johnston.
Johnston hopes to be able to build a permanent home for the trolley, possibly at the Fenton History Center in Jamestown.
A vintage book and paper sale will take place at Chautauqua Suites in Mayville on August 6th to support the ongoing restoration, and future preservation, of the trolley. A five dollar admission fee grants access to around thirty vendors with various historical goods will be in attendance from 10 a.m to 4 p.m.