Preserving History

After 18 years, restoration work has started on trolley car No. 93.

In June, Jim Mitchener and Bob Johnston started restoring the Jamestown Street Railway Trolley Car No. 93 at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station, located at 211-217 W. Second St., Jamestown.

The trolley car project first started in 1996 when Johnston was discussing his love of local history with a friend. The friend mentioned his family had an old Jamestown trolley car they used as a hunting camp near Dewittville. The family donated it to Johnston and the trolley car was moved back to Jamestown. For years, the trolley car sat in the city’s Parks Department garage before it was moved to the Gateway Train Station late last year.

Johnston said the restoration of the trolley car, which once operated along Willard Street, finally started in June when Mitchener volunteered for the project. Since the start of the restoration, the trolley car has been stripped of old rusted metal and rotten wood.

Johnston said thanks to local businesses like Fancher Chair of Falconer, who donated the wood, and Jamestown Boiler & Manufacturing, who donated the metal, new parts have been added to the 1926 trolley car. Johnston said Jamestown Glass Service is researching how to replace the trolley’s windows.

There are also two funds people can donate money to, which are being handled by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. Johnston said people can find out more about how to donate money by going to the trolley car restoration project’s website -jamestowntrolley.org. People can also look at recent photos of the trolley car’s restoration by visiting the website.

”Any donation to the project would be helpful,” he said.

Johnston said the single-truck trolley car was one of the smaller ones that operated in Jamestown. He said it is important to restore the car to keep a piece of the past alive. While the restoration project has been at the train station, Mitchener said people stop by to look at the historic trolley car. He said several people have visited while attending receptions and other events like National Train Day at the Gateway Train Station. Johnston said people are invited to visit the train station to get a look at the restoration project.

”This was a major player in the early transportation. This is all we got left,” he said. ”There are people out there that remember them. They can remember riding them.”

The only hiccup in the progress being made to restore the trolley car is what to do with it when it is completely restored. With plans for the Jamestown Gateway Train Station to be part of the planned National Comedy Center, it appears once that project is started there won’t be any room for the trolley at the former Erie-Lackawanna Train Station. Johnston said anyone who has any ideas on what can be done with the historic transportation car should contact him through the website.

”It would be nice if any people out there have any thoughts,” he said.

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.