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Bring Back the Trolley

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Click for larger view. The building is old Robinson Gymnasium, located south of Strong Hall. Image:University Archives

I present KU history lectures to visitors to campus, and one of the items that surprise people the most is when I mention the electric trolley line that ran from downtown Lawrence to Strong Hall. The trolley first appeared on Mt. Oread on April 19, 1910, and most people wonder why it went away, while others think the idea would be great to start up again!

The KU trolley loop only ran a short time, 1910-1933, but electric trolleys didn’t just stop running at KU, they were going away across the country as more and more people rode in motorized vehicles. Buses replaced the electric trolleys in Lawrence, and the increased number of automobile owners contributed to the trolley decline.

During the summer of 2014, Jayhawk Boulevard is undergoing renovations. In one area near Bailey Hall a discovery of the original trolley tracks was made. It had been assumed that all the tracks had already been removed when the trolley service cease operations in 1933. The KU History team have requested portions of the discovery to be display in the Kansas Union in the near future.

Learn more about the KU trolley in the article The KU Loop.

-Mike Reid
Director, KU History Project

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