Trolleys: Fact and Fiction - and Interurban Travel

Title

Trolleys: Fact and Fiction - and Interurban Travel

Description

A favorite newspaper comic strip of the 1930s and 1940s was “The Toonerville Trolley” drawn by Fontaine Fox and based on the memories of his youth in Louisville. He graduated from Male High School in 1904 and after working as a political cartoonist for the Louisville newspapers, he became a cartoonist for the Chicago Evening Post. In 1915, he moved to New York City.

While riding in an old trolley one day, he remembered the old Brook Street trolley which passed Male High in Louisville. Rowdy students use to shake the old trolley off its tracks. This trolley shut down in the 1930s.

Soon thereafter, he drew his first “Toonerville Trolley” cartoon. Among the cartoon’s regular characters were the terrible tempered Mr. Bang, the obese Aunt Eppy Hogg, Katrinka, who could put the trolley back on its tracks, Mickey McGuire, Tomboy Taylor, and of course, the conductor. The trolley in the cartoon was not technically a trolley; it was an interurban, running through the countryside.

There was an active interurban system in the Bluegrass region from 1901 until 1934. At its height, it connected Lexington to Georgetown, Frankfort, Nicholasville, Paris and Versailles. Note the omission of nearby Richmond. To reach us here in Madison County, interurbans would have to cross the Kentucky River, and a bridge just cost too much to justify a ride to Richmond. In the 1920s, my parents would spend their summers taking classes at the University of Kentucky. Entertainment on Sunday afternoons often included a ride on the interurban. The motor car boom of the 1930s finished off the interurbans.

Of course, Richmond did have a streetcar. My longtime co-author, Bob Grise, has often written of the mule-drawn streetcar that connected train depots on East Main Street and North Third Street with a central stop on Main Street at the Glyndon Hotel. At a time of increasing by-pass traffic jams, fender benders and $4 a gallon gas, perhaps the time has come again for trolleys and interurbans?

Clang, clang, clang; all aboard.

Creator

Dr. Fred Engle

Date

5/24/2011

Rights

Content may be freely copied for personal and educational purposes with appropriate citation. Permission is required to reprint.

Files

Collection

Citation

Dr. Fred Engle, “Trolleys: Fact and Fiction - and Interurban Travel,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed November 23, 2017, http://madisonsheritage.omeka.net/items/show/2177.