Two groups aim to restore trolley station

September 13, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

BOONSBORO - It had been about 66 years since people last paid to get on a trolley in Boonsboro.

But this weekend people did just that as part of two groups' efforts to renovate the long-dormant Main Street trolley station.

Dick Keesecker, a member of the Boonsboro Economic Development Commission, said the trolley ride through Boonsboro was the kickoff event for efforts to refurbish the Boonsboro Trolley Station, in the 200 block of Main Street across from Orchard Drive.

Keesecker said the goal of the commission and the Boonsboro Historical Society is to raise enough money, about $50,000, to renovate the building to its appearance from the years when it was operational, 1902 to 1938. Keesecker said plans also call for installing a few pieces of rail outside and permanently placing an old-style trolley next to the building.


"Of course it's a long vision away, but it's something to work for," he said. "We're really enthused about it. Really, we think it's going to be one of the prize tourist attractions of the town."

The first step was offering trolley rides around the town during the weekend's Boonesborough Days event, for $2 to $4, with proceeds going to the project. Those riding in the trolley Sunday, albeit an updated, motorized version, could see not only the numerous yard sales and festivalgoers along Main Street, but could hear a recorded, spoken history of the town. The presentation included information about the town's strong ties to the Civil War, the founding of Boonsboro and the first day of the trolley's operation there in 1902, which included 500 paying customers.

The trolley's driver, Mike Burkhart of Martinsburg, W.Va., said more than 130 people rode the trolley during the weekend.

Keesecker said the groups already are planning to include the trolley ride for next year's Boonesborough Days.

Boonsboro Town Manager and historical society member John Kendall said the building, like others near it, was nearly destroyed during spring 2004 after the town purchased property near Shafer Memorial Park. Kendall said he was approached by residents, including Doug Bast, who said the building was the town's trolley station decades ago.

Later, John Frye, a Washington County native and historian, said it was indeed the last remaining passenger trolley station in Washington County.

"Nobody knew it was the only one left," Bast said. "A couple of us got together and talked about it with some oldsters. John (Kendall) was really excited about it, so we all got excited about it."

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