Author Releases ‘Jamestown To Buffalo By Trolley’

Can you image hopping on a trolley to travel through Jamestown?

While most residents in the city cannot, perhaps the experience can finally come to life by flipping through Ken Springirth’s new book – “Jamestown To Buffalo By Trolley.” Springirth, of Erie, Pa., has written 22 books on regional rail transportation, including “Remembering The Erie-Lackawanna Railroad.”

Springirth said his newest book is dedicated to Lee Harkness, Jamestown Gateway Train Station general manager, and Bob Johnston, who started the Jamestown Street Railway Trolley Car No. 93 Restoration Project. In fact, the cover of the book is a picture of Trolley Car No. 93 back when it still traveled the city. Springirth also said he received a lot of help from the staff at the Fenton History Center, which is located at 67 Washington St.

“I’m very grateful to the people of Jamestown,” Springirth said. “My mission is to preserve history. That is what I love. I love this hobby.”

The author said he self-published his latest book, which illustrates and describes the trolley system in Western New York.

People can get a copy of the book at the Fenton History Center, at National Train Day on Saturday at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station, located at 211-217 W. Second St., or at a book signing he will do from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 17, at the Lake Shore Railway History Society and Museum, located at 31 Wall St., North East, Pa.

Springirth has spent the last 50 years researching rail systems. He said at one time, someone could travel from the eastern side of New York state to Wisconsin by trolley. He said the 1,087-mile journey had 20 different connections.

“It would take four days to do, unless you missed one of the connections then it might take a day longer,” he said.

Springirth said the trolley car revolutionized transportation in Jamestown. He said the city had a well-maintained system. At one time, there were two different trolley routes between Westfield and Jamestown – one traveling the northside of Chautauqua Lake and the other the southside. There were also trolley routes connecting people to Warren County, Pa.

The last trolley car ran in Jamestown in 1938. However, that might be changing in the future, Springirth said. The trolley car systems in the United States, which had declined to only seven systems by 1970, have started a rebirth with a new name – light rail transit. Today there are 30 trolley car systems in the United States and 350 around the world. “This is the first time in the history of the world that a mode of transportation that almost went out of existence has made a comeback,” he said. “The concept is returning … it is now back on track.”