Thursday, November 10, 2016

Arlington Traction Company Revisited

Norman Muller’s “Toonerville Trolley"
Shortly after my three-part series on Norman Muller and the Arlington Traction Company, I received an exciting email from historian and author Paula Shorf.

Paula wrote, “I enjoyed the posts on the Arlington Traction Company and thought you might like to see photos, etc. that I have about it."

I couldn’t believe what Paula was able to provide.

Besides a collection of great photos of the kids riding the various cars (one of which is shown above), Paula also included a scan of a typewritten fact sheet about the company dating from its early days. It tells the whole Arlington Traction Company story, with a timeline as well as the names of the people who contributed to its construction. The sheet even explains how the Arlington name was a sentimental choice.

Here is my transcription of that fact sheet (below). Apparently, the miniature track that ran around the property at the corner of Cooper Foster Park Road and South Broadway had designated numbered stops, just like a real interurban system.


The Arlington Traction Co. made its first run July 4, 1949. It operated on 65 ft. of track and had one car patterned after the Fontaine Fox “Toonerville Trolley.” In a few weeks the tracks were extended until we had over two hundred feet of 24" gauge track. We now have over five hundred feet of track.

Stop 34 and Stop 35 are stops that were on the old Norwalk line of The Cleveland Southwestern System. Stop 34 was Arlington Road, on which we spent our childhood summers. Our old swimming hole was at Stop 33. Stop 33 is now Rt 113 just west of Berlinville, Ohio.

Hickory Corner was named to please our neighbors who can remember the big hickory tree at the end of Middle Ridge and the water trough for the horses. At the turn of the century the local farmers drove down to Penfield Junction to meet the old “Green Line” cars.

Some of the pioneers of this road are: Al Bertwell, who located the wheels for the trolley; Gil Herrick, who gave us the old irrigation pipe that we use for rails; Hale Gault, who furnished parts and helped with the welding; Bob Younglas, secured most of the trolley wire for us and Floyd Owens, who gave us the crating lumber from which the cars and ties were made.
Two fellows, who were classmates in school, were here for the first run with their families. Bob McCahon, originated and has printed over five thousand “Season Tickets” for the kiddies. Ray Ewers has printed dozens of pictures since, for shut in kiddies and lame kiddies that have ridden out road.
The engine, patterned after Walt Disney’s Donald Duck Choo Choo, was built last year and made its first run June 21, 1951. Irving Crooks helped build the engine as well as furnish the brass work. Pearl Jacoby, another classmate, furnished the bell for the engine. Gibson Bros. at Oberlin furnished the wheels for the coal car and some parts on the engine. The engine wheels are old hand car wheels we secured from the Wheeling & Lake Erie R. R. The boiler on the engine is an old air tank taken from Nankin Substation on The Southwestern System.

Last year 4737 kids rode our line free! Of these kiddies, about fifty were lame kiddies, who are able to run the engine just as well and get a great deal more fun out of it. If you know of any kiddies that are shut in or have difficulties in walking, bring them out and we will make a special effort to show them a good time.

Here are the rest of Paula’s great photos. You can see the original “Toonerville Trolley” as well as the miniature train.

As Paula noted in her email, “Looks like it was a fun time for the kids!”

And here's the ticket mentioned in the fact sheet.

Thanks, Paula, for sharing these items from your collection! They really tell the complete story of the Arlington Traction Company and what a wonderful thing it was for local kids.

Just for a fun comparison, here’s what Donald Duck’s “choo choo” (referred to in the fact sheet) looked like.

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