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Good Golly Missed Trolley!

By Bob Mintz
(Article updated Spring 2019)

The first forms of public transportation were horse car lines. One hundred fifty years before the NYC subways were built, most of those horse car lines in the outer boroughs terminated at the various ferry lines that would eventually bring their riders into Manhattan. Running at a 4-cent fare, each car was usually pulled by four horses that were decorated with rows of bells to warn pedestrians, similar to what one would see today on Main Street USA at Disneyland or Disneyworld. A horse stable was usually built at the end of the line.

With the disadvantages and limitations of horse cars obvious, cable car lines started to appear. Electric cars were the next progression and by 1895, almost all of the horse car routes had been converted. Those same horse stables were now renamed car barns.

By 1905, convertible trolley cars started appearing. These cars has side panels that were removed in summertime, thus doing away with the necessity of maintaining two fleets of cars, one with closed bodies for winter service and the other with open benches for summer service.

These center door trolleys had no front door and thus required a two-man operation, one set of controls in the front and another in the rear.

By 1919, there was a fleet of lightweight double end cars designed by Charles O. Birney and were the first cars of this popular design to be built by the J.G. Brill Company. The idea was that passengers boarded at the center door and exited at the front, paying their fare as they passed the conductor stationed just forward of the center door.

The concept was to operate two cars with the same two men assigned to the bigger single trolley and instead run two small cars without using more electricity that would be needed for the larger car. By doubling the service, the thought would be that there would always be another car in sight. Thus the saying “men/women are like buses (trolleys), another one comes along every few minutes.

The Depression forced the conversion to a one-man operation. To make this alteration more seamless, track loops were used rather than have the motorman move to the opposite end of the coach.

The first Lionel issue #60 Lionelville Trolley came in five different versions, all were yellow and variations had black, blue or red lettering, with and without roof vents, and the earliest production run had disappearing motormen at each end, whose appearance would be determined by the direction the car was traveling.

Later versions included and excluded the poles and rubber bumpers. Most were part of no longer offered Christmas sets that included the trolley, track, bumpers and power track. Dealers are not happy about this decision though, because it had made a relatively inexpensive and ready to run mini-starter set.

The Lionel version of the Brill trolley has included variations with and without the poles and rubber bumpers.

See also:

Hello Trolley by Bob Mintz


# 60 Lionelville
# 8690 Lionel Lines
#11809 Village Trolley Co
#11850 Quaker Oats San Francisco
#11981 Merry Christmas 1998
#18404 San Francisco
#18419 Lionelville Electric
#18431 Lionel Transit
#18452 Boston Mass. Transit
#21916 Lionel Village
#21924 Santa’s Town Shoppers
#21945 Garland Holiday Town Transit
#21969 Lionel Village
#18481 Christmas Yuletide Trolley

#28418 Christmas trolley

#21168 City Traction Co. Trolley
#21649 City Traction Co. Trolley w/ Ringling BrosTM Banner
#28430 2006 Wellspring Trolley
        #28456 Coca-Cola Trolley  

“Birney Style” (ONES WITH THE POLES):


#28415 Third Avenue Trolley “1651”
#28421 Fort Collins Trolley
#28434 Christmas Trolley
#28441 Transylvania Trolley
#28438 Portland Birney Trolley
#28421 LCCA Sacramento Santa Fe Trolley Car Overstamp
#28446 Silver Bell Trolley
#38203 Holly Jolly Trolley 2-Car Set

#81449 Zombie Trolley

#81450 The Polar Express™ Trolley

#81451 St. Louis Trolley

#58586 LCCA 2014 Pre-Registration Convention Trolley

#58587 LCCA 2014 Banquet Convention Trolley

#58237 TCA 2015 Coney Island Trolley

#58238 TCA 2015 Palisades Park Trolley



#82412 Reading Birney Trolley

#82413 Lionel Transit Birney Trolley

2016 Southern Division TCA 50TH Anniversary Trolley 1966-2016- only 50 made

2016 Southern Division TCA 50TH Anniversary Trolley 1966-2016 Gold Version- only 1 made

#83865 Rutgers Trolley

#83426 Johnstown Birney Trolley

#84294 Sacramento Trolley

#84295 Connecticut Trolley

#58275 Grzyboski's Trains 40th anniversary Laurel Line trolley

#58045 LCCA 2018 Chicago  Convention Registration Trolley

#58046 Banquet Trolley LCCA 2018

Trolley from Toymaker Limited Trolley Set # 83694

Trolley from The Polar Express Trolley Set # 1923130

#1935090 U. S. War Bonds Trolley

#58047 LCCA 2019 Reno Convention Registration Trolley

This year's gift for those LCCA members registering for the 2019 LCCA Annual Convention in Reno and staying for 3 nights at the Host Hotel is a Lionel Bump and Go trolley, of course this one proudly says Virginia City. In high demand when they were offered in Indy (58586 & 58587), Boston (58588 & 58589) and Chicago (58045 & 58046), this gift promises to be every bit as collectible. But its greatest value is as a keepsake for your attendance at the convention. NOTE: Only 400 are available and they are gone, they are gone. Sign up early and don't miss out. These trolleys will be available at the Host Hotel during convention week. To qualify, you must be one of the first 400 members to register and stay at least 3 nights in the Host Hotel (or live within 50 miles of the Host Hotel)

#58048 Banquet Trolley LCCA 2019

Although a slightly different design from the Lionel version of the Brill trolley and more prototypical, 2nd Runner Up prize for best Lionel wannabe trolley in typical Lionel color scheme goes to Industrial Rail #14003. Seen at the former Green Hall at York for only $45, a nice alternative.

#14003 City Transport

Second Decade.
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