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N. Oregon Coast Trolley Expands as Astoria Gets New Century-Old Tram Soon

Published 10/11/23 at 7:42 p.m.
B
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

N. Oregon Coast Trolley Expands as Astoria Gets New Century-Old Tram Soon

(Astoria, Oregon) – What's old is new again on the north Oregon coast, as Astoria gets ready to add a new vintage trolley car to its already-popular trolley system. Joining the 110-year-old Old 300 trolley car will be a slightly younger one that was built in 1917. (Photo courtesy historictrolleysandparts.com)

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The Astoria Riverfront Trolley Association (ARTA) is the non-profit group that runs the Astoria Trolley, that picturesque and extremely popular ride that putt-putts its way through the north Oregon coast town from spring through fall.

David Reid, executive director of the Astoria Warrenton Chamber of Commerce, along with ARTA president Willis Van Dusen, said the trolley system is getting so busy it could really use a backup.

“The trolley and its crew have become iconic and beloved fixtures for locals and visitors alike, serving over 50,000 passengers a year and featuring in innumerable photos, paintings, television shows, and even Hollywood films,” Van Dusen said.

Old 300 occasionally has to go in for repairs, and that could mean taking it offline and leaving no trolley. Yet it also requires periodic restoration work to keep its lifespan up.

ARTA also hopes to create more excitement for the Astoria Trolley system, and providing a “focal point for recruitment of operators, mechanics, and other volunteers to ARTA.”


Courtesy historictrolleysandparts.com

The new tram should provide a new host for dedicated runs and special event rentals, like group outings, weddings or conferences. ARTA also hopes this will preserve this unique presence along Astoria's riverfront.

Tram 183 comes to the Oregon coast burgh through funds provided by an anonymous donor, ARTA said. They called it an “extraordinarily rare opportunity to purchase a second vintage trolley car.”

Currently, the car is in Willits, California, and is expected to make it here between November 1 and the end of 2023.

The history of Tram 183 is an interesting one that spans two continents and yet only 70 years of service out of its 100 years of existence.

According to Oregon's Gales Creek Enterprises, which put up Tram 183 for sale, the original body – made of wood - was built by an Australian company back in 1917. It was not completed until about 1920, and then was put into service in Melbourne, Australia for about 15 years. In '35, it went to Victoria, used in the town of Ballarat and renamed Car 30. In 1971, the tram car was put into storage after the tramway system in that town ended.

Nine years later it was sold and brought to Portland, Oregon in 1980. A year later, a devastating fire hit the tram car, burning most of its wooden frame. It was a shell of its former self. It went into storage until 2005, when a rebuilding project began.

The company said it has been rebuilt to spec: “The entire body has been rebuilt as close to the original design as possible using traditional mortise and tenon joinery from the frame up. Considerable emphasis was placed on maintaining the original structural design and construction techniques.”

Durson said the new tram will get some testing and a trial period to ensure compatibility and operability, as well as condition.

“Once confirmed, Tram 183 will become a permanent part of the ARTA story,” Durson said.

See the Astoria Trolley site for more.

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Interior of Tram 183 as it was being restored

Below courtesy Astoria Trolley




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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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