Published Mar/Apr 2005

By Barbara Baird

ocated in the capital city of Arkansas, Little Rock River Rail Streetcar Project officially opened on Nov. 1, 2004. Three replica vintage trolleys run 2.5 miles on new track along sections of Markham and Second streets in Little Rock and Main and Maple streets in North Little Rock. The route links popular sites such as Alltell Arena, the Statehouse Convention Center, the River Market, numerous loft apartments, hotels, two city halls, the Argenta neighborhood, restaurants, Historic Arkansas Museum, Discovery Museum, the main library, two chambers of commerce, courthouses, the Robinson Auditorium Concert Hall, Riverfront Amphitheater and dozens of office buildings.

Betty Wineland, of the Central Arkansas Transit Authority, predicts an increase in the number of riders when the line to the Clinton Presidential Center is completed at the end of this year, adding almost an extra mile of track to the present system. As of early January, the line has had 50,000 riders.

For more information, see www.cat.org or call (501) 375-6717.

In Fort Smith, Ark., the townsfolk are proud of their trolleys. In 1979, the non-profit organization called the Fort Smith Streetcar Restoration Association was formed. The association toiled for the next five years and acquired three trolleys, and in 1985, the association assembled a car barn and named it the Fort Smith Trolley Museum.

It now functions as a working museum complete with three sets of front doors from an old Frisco roundhouse. Outside of the museum, the association added track and overhead wire system to operate the fleet of trolleys. A fully restored 1926 electric streetcar makes regular half-mile runs between the Fort Smith National Cemetery and a west end stop at the Arkansas River Bridge on Harrison Avenue. The museum operates four of the original 58 trolleys, and plans to make future extensions to the existing tracks.

The museum is a stop along the trolley route and features a collection of passenger cars, engines, buses and other transportation memorabilia.

For more information, see www.fstm.org/ or call the Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-637-1477.

Above: Little Rock’s new River Rail Streetcar Project topped 50,000 riders in January.

Below: The Fort Smith Streetcar Restoration Association is dedicated to saving vintage streetcars. Arkansas Tourism photo

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