City of Astoria owns approximately five miles of former Burlington
Northern railroad trackage along its historic waterfront, and the non-profit Astoria Riverfront
Trolley Association (ARTA) provides a Vintage Trolley operation along about
three miles of it. In addition to the trolley, a paved
"River Walk" has also been developed adjacent to the tracks,
greatly enhancing the pedestrian-friendly environment. The number of
hotels, restaurants, shops and other attractions has also been steadily
increasing since the trolley service was inaugurated. The trolley operates
daily for about 8 months of the year, and weekends only during the winter
months. A one dollar fare is charged, and depending on the number of riders, a round trip generally takes
about 35-40 minutes.
During 1999, the first year of operations, 25,000
passengers were carried, despite a shortened season. Ridership increased
to about 30,000 in 2000. The line is operated with a tow-behind generator,
and speeds are kept low to let passengers enjoy the ride and for general
safety reasons in this pedestrian environment. Trolley stops have been
developed in cooperation with the local business community. A standard
waiting shelter design has been created, and in exchange for donating the cost
of putting up the shelter, a number of local businesses have gotten nearby
stops to help
bring in customers.
The car is operated using a tow-behind generator,
and there are currently no plans to install overhead wire. To their
credit, the 60KW generator purchased by ARTA was obtained with the optional "hospital quiet" muffler package,
making it noticeably quieter than your typical diesel generator.
Equipment: At this
time, there is only one car in use. Car 300 originally hails from Texas, having
been built in 1913 by the American Car Company for the San Antonio
Traction Company. Following retirement in 1933,
car 300 was placed on display outside a San Antonio museum, where it
languished until 1981, when it was adopted and restored by local trolley
enthusiasts. The restoration was aided by the availability of parts from
the body of a sister car (reportedly No. 311), which had been in use as a local
residence. Restoration included replacement
of the original running gear with trucks from New Orleans that were
converted to standard gauge, (San Antonio had an odd four-foot track
gauge). Beginning in 1982, car 300 was operated on the Pearl
Brewery trackage in San Antonio. After tourist operations over this
trackage ended, the trolley found its way to Oregon on a lease, and was used for a time on the Willamette Shore
Trolley operating out
of Lake Oswego.
In 1998, ARTA obtained a lease on the car in exchange for the promise to refurbish it
and keep it stored under cover. The car was extensively refurbished by
ARTA volunteers, and was initially kept in a small makeshift
shelter accessed by one of the many industrial sidings along the line. A
dedicated maintenance building was opened in October 2001, and in 2005 the
group purchased the trolley outright.
the Astoria Railroad depot.
line runs along the scenic Columbia River
stop at the Columbia River Maritime Museum
along the waterfront- note proximity of parked automobiles!
on piers along the waterfront, the line passes several restaurants
as well as a variety of maritime-related industry.
of car 300-
new Holiday Inn under construction adjacent to the line
trolley barn has room for two cars and includes an inspection pit
of the trolley barn
Smatlak, except as noted
Steve Nurding of Astoria Trolley reports that the 2001 season saw
over 30,000 riders, as well as the addition of a dedicated
maintenance building for the trolley. The two-track metal building
was opened in October and contains a full-length pit under one
track, as well as an office, meeting/training room, and a
restroom. The building is owned by the City of Astoria, and was
funded by a state economic development grant and a loan to the
trolley organization that is being repaid through operating
income. A photo of the building appears above.
Laura Sellers-Earl of Astoria Trolley contacted us to let us know
that the organization has a new website.
Laura also reported that the trolley had a ridership of 30,000 in 2002 and
that they hope to see an increase with the start of the new
"Lewis & Clark Explorer Train" passenger service
between Portland and Astoria. The train will operate May
23-September 2 using RDC equipment. Information is available here.
In addition, the American
West Steamboat Company riverboat cruises along the Willamette
River now call at Astoria.
The Astoria Riverfront Trolley Association has made an
outright purchase of Car 300 from the San Antonio Art Museum, from
whom they had been leasing the car. This
article from the Daily Astorian has the complete story.
Trolley Official Site
Now Own the Trolley" article from Daily Astorian 3/10/06
Astoria Trolley website
page on Kavanagh Transit Systems site
page on the APTA Heritage Trolley site
Chronicle article on Astoria Trolley
page on Astoria Chamber of Commerce site
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