Issaquah Valley Trolley
The Issaquah Valley Trolley (IVT) is a heritage streetcar line in Issaquah, Washington, United States. It is a project of the Issaquah History Museums (formerly known as the Issaquah Historical Society). The IVT operates from the Issaquah Depot Museum building located at 78 First Ave, NE. The service operated on a trial basis in 2001–02 and has operated on a regular basis, seasonally, since 2012.
After restoration of the Issaquah Depot neared completion in 1989, a group of Issaquah Historical Society members considered options for active use of the tracks leading to and from the restored depot. Discussions included dinner trains, passenger trains and eventually led to the easier to manage streetcar option.
In 2001–02, a trolley car borrowed from Yakima Valley Trolleys was operated along existing, former-freight railroad track to prove the concept that an operating trolley in Issaquah would attract ridership.
After returning the borrowed trolley to Yakima in May 2002, Issaquah acquired three trolleys of its own: an ex-Milan interurban car (No. 96) from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, and two narrow gauge ex-Lisbon trolleys (Nos. 519 and 521, originally built by the J. G. Brill Company and assembled in Lisbon in 1925) from a failed plan for a trolley line in Aspen, Colorado. None was able to operate, as they all needed restoration work before being usable for service, and the ex-Lisbon trolleys also required "re-gauging" from 900 mm (2 ft 11 7⁄16 in) gauge to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge to enable them to run on the existing railroad track in Issaquah.
In March 2012, one of the ex-Lisbon cars, No. 519, was sent to the Gomaco Trolley Company, in Iowa, for restoration and re-gauging of its truck. The car returned from Gomaco in August, its restoration completed, and made a test run over the line. with additional crew training then following. It entered service in Issaquah on October 14, 2012.
As part of its payment to Gomaco for restoration of car 519, IVT transferred ownership of the other Lisbon car, No. 521, to Gomaco. The car was shipped to Gomaco in August 2012, and Gomaco began a heavy restoration of it as an internal project.
By that time, IVT had dropped all plans to use the 1930-built ex-Milan car No. 96 and put it up for sale. The car was sold in 2015 to the Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society and was transported to the Oregon Electric Railway Museum in December 2016.
The IVT group's original hopes to rebuild one to two miles (3.2 km) of recently removed track on the Lake Sammamish rail-trail, as far as the boat-launch, were dashed upon removal of rail equipment and completion of the East Lake Sammamish Trail in 2006.
Public service began on October 14, 2012, with initial hours of operation scheduled for weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until sometime in November. The section of railroad line brought into use for rides at that time was about one-half mile (approx. 800 m) long, stopping just before the bridge over the East Fork of Issaquah Creek. The section of track north of the bridge could not be used until repair work on the bridge. By 2016, rehabilitation work on the bridge had been completed, allowing the route to be extended across and beyond the bridge, to Gilman Blvd., where the track ends. The extended line came into use at the beginning of the 2016 season, on May 7, making the overall length of usable track about 0.6 miles (1 km) long. Future plans include building a small covered platform at the end of the line adjacent to the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce building, which would allow the trolley to serve the purpose of an actual (though limited) transit system, ferrying riders between Issaquah's downtown (accessed from the Issaquah Depot) and the Issaquah commercial core's other major pedestrian destinations: Confluence Park and the Gilman Village shopping district (accessed from the new Gilman Station).
The museum also has an operational 0-4-0 Plymouth gasoline-mechanical locomotive for use as a rescue vehicle if the trolley were to fail mid-trip. The Plymouth is also undergoing a retrofitting of the brake mechanism to allow it use in regular passenger service.
- Grindeland, Sherry (November 23, 2002). "Aspen's trolley loss is Issaquah's gain". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "Issaquah Valley Trolley". Issaquah Historical Society. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Kagarise, Warren (August 28, 2012). "Trolley returns, and supporters prepare for rides to start in October". Issaquah Press. Archived from the original on August 19, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
- Young, Andrew D. (1997). Veteran & Vintage Transit. St. Louis, MO (US): Archway Publishing. p. 25. ISBN 0-9647279-2-7.
- "It's Here! Issaquah Trolley Arrives". Sammamish-Issaquah Patch. August 23, 2012. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
- Issaquah Press Staff (October 16, 2012). "All aboard, Issaquah, as downtown trolley starts service". Issaquah Press. Archived from the original on August 19, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
- "Trolley Construction - Lisbon Trolley #521". Gomaco Trolley Company. September 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
- "Museum News" (February 2017). Tramways & Urban Transit magazine, p. 72. UK: LRTA Publishing. ISSN 1460-8324
- "Museum News" (August 2016). Tramways & Urban Transit magazine, p. 312. UK: LRTA Publishing. ISSN 1460-8324