“A Trolley Guy” Passes Away

Since 1996 when the first Trolley Car #93 Restoration Project article appeared in the Post Journal, I have been at times referred to as “The Trolley Guy”. The words “You’re the guy who pulled that trolley car out of the woods and wants to get it restored”, often followed. It was a lonely path toward restoring what is arguably the last remaining street car, of the hundreds that serviced Chautauqua County residents starting back as early as 1866 in Dunkirk, NY. Jamestown, NY got its first cars in 1883, and it wasn’t until 1926 that #93 made its debut on city streets.

With gratitude to the Post Journal, #93’s story has been told many times. From the woods as a hunting camp to the Gateway Train Station years later. Through it all, it has been the, goal to get the trolley restored. The restoration wasn’t really progressing much until the invitation from Lee Harkness to move it to the train station with hopes of getting the project going. It was on National Train Day 2014 at the station, when I was reunited with the person who thankfully changed me from being “The Trolley Guy” to “One of the Trolley Guys”.

I met Jim Mitchener way back at the beginning, when I first brought the car to Jamestown. At the urging of his grandson Jeffrey, he met up with us, the Trolley and me. He picked and poked, crawled under and over the car, and then left the two of us as a lost cause. Fast forward to 2014’s National Train Day event at the train station. In walks this now 85 year old guy, once again picking and poking. Jim asked if I recognized him, then after looking over the proposed project in the new venue, he agreed to sign on.

We have a website that pretty much documents all the ups and downs of our restoration efforts, just do an internet search for Jamestown trolley to find it. For right now, at the request of Jim Mitchener, I have been asked to make this appeal for support for a very important part of our project. I take responsibility for there being a trolley project, but Jim Mitchener and his skills, made the restoration a reality. It was our plan to get this done and get #93 displayed in a permanent home where future generations of Chautauqua County residents could see one of the last remaining big pieces of local transportation history. We are now asking for help doing that.

As of late, we have been working on a design for construction of a display building for #93. Unfortunately, with a bit more urgency now, thanks to a thing called stage 4 cancer. At 92, Jim felt that perhaps he knew enough people, and enough people were aware of the project, that word of his passing would be a catalyst for them to donate to our trolley building fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. At times like this, when cancer research and Hospice would no doubt be high on the list of consideration, Jim wanted me to put into words his hopes that on the day of his passing, a request be made for donations for what will be #93’s final resting place; as Jim, “A Trolley Guy”, goes to his.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of my valued friend, Jim Mitchener, one talented craftsman!

Bob Johnston, Jamestown Street Railway Trolley Car #93 Restoration Project

Donations can be made by mail, or stop down and see the nice people at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, 418 Spring St, Jamestown, NY 14701. Online donations can be made by visiting the foundation link at https://crcfonline.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/list. Just put “trolley” in the search box and select the Trolley #93 Non-Endowed Fund (now our building fund).