By Ryan Richardson
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
The Webb City Parks Department recently added to the town’s rail-based trolley that runs through King Jack Park.
But the added trolley is rolling on the streets instead of the track.
Last week, the department unveiled a rebuilt 36-passenger motorized trolley. Tom Reeder, parks and recreation director, said that getting the trolley street ready was a yearlong job. The broken-down trolley was purchased from a Joplin resident and is now a point of pride for his department.
“We pretty much built this thing up from scratch to what we have now,” Reeder said. “We did most of the work internally to keep restoration costs down, and the result was something that surprised us. We’re really happy that we took this project on.”
The city purchased the trolley for $11,500 and put $12,000 in materials and labor into it. Reeder said that if the cost would have been much higher, the department would have bought a restored trolley. But such a purchase would have cost $50,000 to $60,000, he said.
“We felt that we could do it cheaper and have something that we could say that we did as a department,” he said.
Gary Pippin, who also is with the department, helped guide the project. Reeder said Pippin focused on restoring the 1930s-era trolley to a usable state, and he also incorporated some modern conveniences for users.
“It is not a full restoration, but it is close,” Pippin said. “We’ve got heating set up in the back, and the seats are comfortable after they were redone, and that was important for us. I can’t think of all the hours we put in on this, but when we saw the finished product, we knew we had something that we could be proud of and that the city would use.”
Reeder said the trolley will not be an everyday-use vehicle but will be reserved for special events throughout the year.
“We plan on using this to shuttle people back and forth to the trolley in the park when it is up and going,” he said.
DURING A TEST RUN LAST WEEK, the first passenger was retiring City Collector Cathy Spencer. “Cathy has been with us almost 30 years, and we thought it would be really fun to take her out to lunch and give her a ride on the trolley,” said Tom Reeder, parks and recreation director. “The whole park department came, along with the mayor. It’s a great memory to have for everyone’s first ride on the Old Urban Trolley.”