History Room puts focus on city’s trolleys

Residents gather around a trolley in Bristol almost a century ago. A special exhibit at the Bristol Public Library offers a glimpse into the past when trolleys reigned in the Mum City. (Courtesy of the Bristol Public Library)



The Bristol Public Library History Room offers a special exhibit each month, highlighting various aspects on Bristol’s history. On Saturday, Feb. 16, the History Room debuted the history of the Bristol trolley.

Trolleys first arrived in the city in 1895, when local businessman, Adrian Muzzy, advocated for them. Once it was clear that trolleys would make their way to the Mum City, resident, Milton Leon Norton, wrote the poem “Welcome Trolley,” which appeared in the August 1895 edition of the Bristol Press.

Upon arrival, the original company was known as the Bristol and Plainville Tramway Company, as the original line traveled from Bristol to Plainville, following North Street, to Riverside Avenue Flowing from this original line was a truncated route that carried passengers to Lake Compounce.

In 1903, the Terryville Line was added, which branched off of the original line, and followed School Street, and Park Street. About three years later, the Woodland Street line was added. This line was also referred to as the Hill Line, because it went up Federal Hill.

In 1927, the Bristol and Plainville Tramway Company’s name changed to the Bristol Traction Company. And, a short while later in 1935, BTC replaced trolleys with buses. Jay Manewitz, director of the History Room, said that conductors and motormen were able to keep their jobs with the company, and were taught how to operate the buses.

The trolley exhibit, as well as an exhibit showcases former resident, Philip Jenkins, will be on display in the Bristol History Room until Thursday, Feb. 28.

The Bristol History Room is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m., and every Wednesday from 2 to 4, and from 6 to 7:45 p.m.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.