Letter: Just because it has wheels ...

With reference to the article in your May 22 edition regarding the June 7 Trolley Tour, there seems to be a mild case of Trolley confusion. A clarification is in order.

On city streets nowadays, one may spot contraptions colloquially referred to by the uninformed as “trolleys”. These complete imposters roll on rubber tires, belch stinking diesel fumes, and carry passengers in a pseudo-antique carbody built within recent years and mounted on an equally-modern standard bus chassis.

How cute. Tourists love them. Especially if the ride is free. And these buses pollute, like any other bus. You can buy your own “Trolley” today, all brand-new, from a factory which cranks them out to order. “Vintage” indeed! You even have to steer the things!

Those of long memory recognize at once that this contraption is a trolley only by virtue of being totally misnamed. To have ridden one of these faux “trolleys” is a phony experience.

A true “trolley,” “trolley car” or “streetcar” runs on railroad tracks and is powered solely by electricity collected from a wire suspended above the track. A small wheel on a pole extends from the car’s roof to the wire. The wheel is the actual “trolley”. Hence the name “trolley car.” Any vehicle that lacks these features is not a trolley car. Real trolley cars can be ridden today in cities like San Francisco, Calif., and Lowell.

To save you the trip to the Embarcadero, you can ride a real trolley car at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum in the Buckland freight yard. It runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekend and holiday until late October.

Real trolley? We have it: a real Massachusetts-made 1896 vintage trolley car. The Greenfield critter only pretends.

Get the whole story at: www.sftm.org

DAVID C. BARTLETT

Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum

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