Trolley to be Running by Salmon Days

This article appeared in The Issaquah Press, February 23, 2000

by Stacy Goodman

Issaquah Valley Trolley 2000

Issaquah Valley Trolley circa 2000

The Issaquah Historical Society is working to secure a lease on a circa 1929 J.G. Brill trolley, which as room for 22 seated and 10 standing passengers. The trolley could debut just before this year’s Salmon Days.

Plans are on track for the millennium trolley to debut just prior to this year’s Salmon Days Festival. The Issaquah Historical Society project recently received a $100,000 donation and a vintage trolley could be on its way here.

“We’re hoping for an (inaugural run) a little before Salmon Days, that’s our goal,” said David Bangs, historical society president.

The historical society for years has envisioned a trolley operating from the restored train depot at Memorial Park. Those plans shifted into high gear when 12 miles of railroad tracks between Issaquah and Redmond were abandoned a few years ago.

Bangs said the recent donation allows the historical society to pay off its $60,000 bank loan used to buy two miles of rails between Gilman Boulevard and the state park’s boat launch. The remaining $40,000 is available for obtaining a trolley.

The rails were being salvaged last year as part of King County’s proposed East Lake Sammamish Trail project, a public trail between Issaquah and Redmond.

Although phase 1 of the trolley line stretches only between the train depot and Gilman Boulevard, future phases extend it to the boat launch. The county has agreed to add a trolley alignment to its master-planning process for the trail. The historical society also is about to secure a 5-year lease on a trolley.

“We have, after a coast-to-coast search, located a trolley car that looks promising,” said Barb Justice, vice president of the Historical Society.

The 22-seat, 10-standing J. G. Brill model, circa 1929, was found during a nationwide search by Historic Railway Restoration in Edmonds. The fee for the trolley would be offset by the society’s refurbishing and maintaining it, justice said.

Behind the trolley is the society’s 12-member Trolley Committee, plus dozens of volunteers.

“We have a really cool city,” Bangs said. “Issaquah has done a great job preserving its downtown area. It’s not been over-developed like the downtown areas of other cities on the Eastside. We’ve done a great job preserving the old depot. A lot of depots around the country don’t have tracks around them anymore.”

The society also envisions an old-fashioned “barn raising” on tracks to the north of the depot, where the trolley could be stored. Electricity for the trolley will be supplied by a generator trailer towed by the trolley. No overhead wiring will be installed. Initial use of the trolley would be for Salmon Days, theater nights, and other special events.

Bangs estimated it will take an additional $60,000 to get the trolley running between Sunset Way and Gilman Boulevard. Society volunteers have built a two-thirds scale mock-up of the trolley for use a kiosk during fund-raising events.

Issaquah Historical Society members Barb Justice and David Bangs hopped aboard the newly built trolley kiosk, designed to help with fund-raising.

Press Photo by Stacy Goodman

This Article © 2000 Issaquah Press. Used by permission