A little bit of Lisbon in the Pacific Northwest.

Issaquah Valley Trolley 519.

Issaquah Valley Trolley 519 is seen at the Issaquah Depot on the day the car arrived back in town in August 2012. Photo courtesy Jean Cerar.

Another heritage line using ex-Lisbon equipment is soon to get under way, this time in Issaquah, Washington.

The volunteer-run Issaquah Valley Trolley plans to run 1925 single-trucker 519 in public service over former freight trackage from Issaquah Train Depot to the East Fork of Issaquah Creek at Darigold, according to this Aug. 28 article by The Issaquah Press. An earlier article about the car’s restoration can be seen here.  The cars will not be powered by overhead, but by towing a trailer-mounted generator.

According to Jean Cerar, chair of Issaquah Valley Trolley, the car will go into operation for the public on Oct. 14 and run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends “until the weather becomes too unpleasant,” with There a Santa run planned for December. Riders will be asked for a $2 donation, Jean said. Service will resume in the spring — probably May, when a formal inaugural celebration will be held.

Restoration of a second Lisbon car, 521, is pending. A third vehicle, ex-Milan interurban 96, is being offered for sale.

In an email, Jean was kind enough to supply some background and photos. In her words:

The Issaquah Valley Trolley is an all-volunteer operation. Its parent organization is the Issaquah History Museums, which has the responsibility of operating the historic Issaquah Depot as a museum. The depot was restored in the late 1980s and completed in 1994. The volunteers involved in the restoration dreamed of creating some sort of rail service to enhance visitors’ experience at the depot. Steam locomotives were ruled out and the group arrived at the idea of a trolley car. It turned out to be a good decision because soon thereafter King County ripped up most of the rails in the area, leaving nowhere for a steam train to run. The City of Issaquah purchased about a mile of track inside the city limits. The trolley will operate on that track.

It has taken a long time to make the dream of rail service a reality. In 2001 IVT leased an Oporto car from the Yakima Valley Trolley group and ran during the summer and early fall. The response was tremendous – over 6,000 riders – an amazing number considering that the trolley ran only four hours per day on weekends. At the end of the season the car was returned to Yakima and IVT’s hunt for a car of its own began in earnest.

The #519, a 1925 Lisbon car, was acquired from Aspen, CO. Barb Justice, our most persistent and creative volunteer, secured federal grant money and the City of Issaquah agreed to act as Certifying Acceptance Agency and manager for the project, which included rehabilitation of the car, improvement of the rails, and installation of crossing signals where the rail line crosses Issaquah’s main arterial, Front St. As the Issaquah Press noted, it took years for all of this to play out.

For more information on the line, also see the museum’s webpagethe Issaquah History Museums’ Facebook page, as well as this Wikipedia page. Alternatively, you may email trolley@issaquahhistory.org.

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One Response to A little bit of Lisbon in the Pacific Northwest.

  1. Christine says:

    Funny you should mention this. We have been talking about visiting Lisbon next year. Among other things, the streetcars are a big draw. Issaquah is a lot closer though. I’m so glad they’re doing this.

    I have another idea for this short piece of track: handcars! Back in 1998, before the opening of TriMet’s Westside Max light rail line, handcar races were held on the tracks. It was a great deal of fun and a very novel experience. I was just sorry that it couldn’t be continued in some way. I think Issaquah has a great spot for that and a potential source of good PR if not revenue.

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