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Trolley festival conducts history lesson

October 16, 2005|By TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

MYERSVILLE, MD.

A conductor in his cap glances out from a 1910 photograph on display this weekend at the Myersville Trolley Festival.

For him, the regular trip from Hagerstown to Myersville was just part of the job. But for the region, the trolley's regular runs represented commerce, development and a chance to just get out of town for a little fun.

From tykes posing patiently while their parents shot photos of them in front of a vintage trolley car to older folks who still remember riding in it, rail-lovers set this weekend aside to celebrate Myersville's heritage as the hub of activity on the Hagerstown & Frederick Trolley line.

Saturday visitors climbed into the car for a "Facts and Tracks" chat by the car's owner, Donald Easterday, who hosts the event. Most sat on plastic chairs; only a few of the original seats on the 1918 "Car 150" remain.

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Dispensing dates and tidbits like a history professor, Easterday told them how the H&F line developed and how the former Potomac Edison Co. purchased the car, originally used to transport troops returning to their base in South Carolina after service in World War I, in 1923 for its electric trolley system. By then, the system had more than 87 miles of track and stopped at several communities in Washington and Frederick counties.

"How fast could they travel?" a woman asked.

"About 20 miles an hour," he replied. "Sometimes slower than that going up the mountain, something faster going down," he added, tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

Afterward, a little boy begged for a chance to pull the cord at the front of the car. Easterday obliged, and ding-ding-ding went the bell.

"We have people who come from all over the world to see this trolley," Easterday said. And he proudly displays a large photo of "the wreck" the car was before he began to restore it.

He also has restored a "waiting station," the last remaining station of those scattered along the line, and placed it on the grounds, near the original railbed. Inside, a videotape narrated by former Hagerstown broadcaster Carroll James told visitors more about the H&F Trolley line.

"It was a very important part of our heritage, to get us out of the boonies," Easterday said.

In addition to Easterday's trolley - and stories - the festival features other activities, some related to trolleys, some not.

Several crafters are on hand to demonstrate their arts, and more are there to peddle theirs. There's a kids' corner with free activities, Today features a worship service at 10:30 a.m., and live music begins at noon. A cake walk and an auction finish out the day.

Though parking on the grounds is free, a trolley shuttle is available from the First United Bank on Main Street for $1 per adult round trip (50 cents for children). Once there, the kids can sample a couple of other forms of transportation - wagons and horses.

The 12th annual Trolley Festival is sponsored by the Myersville Lions Club.

If you go


What: Myersville Trolley Festival

When: Today, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Off Canada Hill Road outside of Myersville, Md.

Cost: Free

Directions: Take Interstate 70 east toward Frederick. Take Exit 42, turning left off the exit onto Md. 17. Continue through the town of Myersville. Md. 17 becomes Main Street and then Canada Hill Road. Follow signs to the trolley festival.

For more information, go to www.myersvillelionsclub.org.

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