SHERIDAN — Sheridan Railway & Light Company Trolley 115 left the grounds of the Sheridan County Historical Society & Museum on Monday for repairs and refurbishment.
Working with the North Main Association and Fletcher Construction, the trolley will be repaired then placed along North Main Street in Sheridan.
According to a press release from the museum, the history of the Sheridan trolley system began in 1910. Albert Emanuel and William Sullivan established the Sheridan Railway & Light Company and set about installing trolley tracks throughout Sheridan. SR&L work crews laid 7 miles of track that became the “City Line.” Passenger service along the City Line began in August 1911. The trolley network expanded further with the addition of the “Fort Line” to nearby Army post Fort Mackenzie (now the Sheridan Veterans Affairs Medical Center), and the “Interurban Line” to the coal town of Monarch.
Initially, SR&L purchased five electric trolleys from the American Car Company of St. Louis, Missouri. The cars measured 31 feet long and could hold 28 passengers. Two Westinghouse electric motors propelled the trolley drawing power from electrical lines strung above the rails. Service came to an end in the 1920s. Due to declining ridership and an increase in local automobile ownership, service along the City Line ended in 1923 and the Fort Line in 1924. Service along the Interurban Line continued for another two years, finally ending in 1926.
According to the museum, in the mid-1970s, Sheridan resident Louis Poulos approached the Sheridan County Bicentennial Committee about the possibly of locating and restoring a trolley. It would be included in the local Bicentennial Festivities. Poulos and former SR&L conductor Joe Driear located Trolley 115 in a pasture near the Kendrick Country Club. Trolley 115 was restored, in part, at the old city garage on Alger Street in Sheridan. Several county businesses donated time and materials to restore the trolley. The trolley was displayed at several locations in Sheridan before moving to the museum.
The museum’s connection to the trolley began in 2007 when the trolley was purchased by the Sheridan County Historical Society and moved onto the museum grounds. Over the next several years, museum staff and volunteers worked to address serious maintenance issues. The goal was to restore the trolley, as closely as possible, to its original state. The costs for the proposed project were beyond the museum’s resources. The museum worked to secure private donations and grant funding for the project with limited success. In fall 2015, the museum began working with the North Main Association. The NMA agreed to partner with the museum for the effort.
Until restoration work is complete and a new location designated, it will be located on the grounds of Northern Lights Electric. Once work is complete, the trolley will be moved to North Main Street, along the route of the Interurban Line.