Back story on retiring Quakertown Trolley

To the editor:

In a conversation with Dale Shafer and the Salem Retail & Business Association in the year of 2002, it was brought to our attention by Dale Shafer (Salem’s historian) that Boston, Mass. and Salem, Ohio both claimed to be the first to have trolley transportation.

Dale Shafer quoted to me that it was still in dispute! Dale made the comment that it would be wonderful to have a trolley back in Salem for historical purposes and as a tourism attraction. The Retail & Business Association with the cooperation of the Chamber of Commerce set out to locate a used trolley.

Six months later, Barb Weikart Kuder located a used trolley on the internet. The Akron Transit Authority had a used trolley. It was rustic and didn’t run. But in our eyes it was beauty! A back-and-forth negotiation at a purchase of $2,000 was agreed upon. We didn’t have the funds to secure this purchase. A phone call to J. Robert Sebo was placed. He was asked if he would purchase a trolley for purpose of historical and tourism attraction. He graciously accepted the purchase for our community.

We then had to find a towing company that was capable to tow this trolley from Akron to Salem. Geary Towing from Leetonia agreed to do this task “free gratis.” Once we had it in our possession we knew it needed a lot of work! Shorty Navarre from Stadium along with Paul Schuster (head of body shop) undertook the project “free gratis.” It took six months to a year to complete the renovation of the exterior. It still needed mechanical work. Don Finch accepted the challenge to get it running “free gratis.” Tom Eddinger drove the trolley from destination to destination “free gratis.” Manhattan Dry Cleaners has provided electricity “free gratis.” There were many businesses that contributed at a reduced charge. All were appreciated.

Audrey Null and Tammy Peppel spent many months coordinating efforts to keep current state safety regulations up to date and promotions. It was finally agreed upon by the Chamber Board of Directors to sell the trolley for $1 to the Salem Historical Society.

One of the most gratifying moments during my years with the Chamber was a comment Dale Shafer made to the Chamber: “You brought back a piece of history to Salem. Job well done!”

This is the back story!

Gary D. Abrams,

Retired Salem merchant,

Past president,

Salem Chamber & Retail & Business Association


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