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Photo of the Month - January 2010

 The Toonerville Trolley

Lancaster Traction Co. #7 at the end of the line.  Photo taken in the 1930's from the Donald A. Kaiser collection.

        Many of the small towns around Columbus had streetcar systems.  Towns such as Delaware, Newark, Zanesville and Lancaster all had streetcars.  They often went out of business before they had a chance to replace their first generation trolleys with newer equipment.  Lancaster was a little different in that it stayed in business much longer than most small town companies around Columbus.  They lasted until October 30, 1937, yet made due with those first generation cars, and a few newer cars added along the way, until the end.  Riding a Lancaster streetcar was like visiting a museum.

        This photograph just has to put a smile on your face.  The trolley looks like it is right out of Fontaine Fox's Toonerville Trolley comic strip.  The Bombay roof puts this car before 1900, probably before 1895.  It  originally had seven windows and shorter open platforms.  The Lancaster shop crew extended and enclosed the platforms. Old age added the droop.  This car may well have come from the Columbus system. 

        Four wheel cars were notorious for see-sawing down the track when they got going too fast.  This car must of had an especially low tolerance for speed.  The motorman and conductor are bundled up as if the car had poor heating.  All in all a shoe string operation.

        Two Lancaster cars still exist, both owned by the Ohio Historical Society.  One has been beautifully restored as a horse car and the other is in storage waiting for the day it too will be restored.