‘A Piece Of History’
The restoration project to renovate a trolley car from 1926 has been rejuvenated.
The Jamestown Street Railway Trolley Car No. 93 Restoration Project will soon be receiving help from volunteers. Bob Johnston, who started the restoration project in the 1990s, said $16,000 has been raised through the years to renovate the trolley car. As of now, it has been sitting in a city Parks Department garage, but soon it will be moving to the Gateway Train Station.
”We are fortunate at this time that Lee Harkness (Gateway Train Station general manager) and his volunteers have decided to take on the project,” Johnston said. ”We’ve struggled over the years to find people willing to work on it, but Lee has his people who have restored cars. They have the room and a place now to work on it. I’m crossing my fingers. I hope something comes from it. ”
Johnston said, with help from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, a fund has been established to accept tax-exempt donations. He said he hasn’t looked to apply for grant money for the project. Instead, he enjoys the donations the restoration project has received from area residents.
”If people are donating money that means they have an interest,” he said.
Johnston said he doesn’t know a price on how much it will cost to renovate the trolley car. He said it depends on whether it is restored to running condition or just for display.
”I have a set of plans to restore it,” he said. ”Maybe one day it will look the way it should, again.”
The trolley car project first started in 1994. Johnston was discussing his love of local history with his friend Sam Lucariello, who mentioned his father had an old trolley car he used as a hunting camp years ago. The trolley car had been sitting in the woods near Dewittville. Lucariello’s mother, Mauro Lucariello, donated it to Johnston. Once restored, it was agreed, there will be a plaque honoring her late husband. In 1996, the trolley car was moved back to Jamestown.
Johnston said the trolley was one of several purchased by the Jamestown Street Railway Co. in 1926. It ran on the tracks around Jamestown until 1938 when the company went out of business. He said the trolleys were stripped of metal and were sold. Some were then used as cottages along the lake.
”It is a piece of history. When it is gone, it’s gone,” he said. ”History is something you’ve got to fight to save it.”
For more information on the trolley car or to make a donation, visit jamestowntrolley.org/trolrest/trolr5.html. Johnston is also a member of the Chautauqua Historical Society. More information can be found on the society by visiting mcclurgmuseum.org.