In 1903, old Number One ran the one mile trolley track between the southern Indiana resort towns of French Lick and West Baden. It linked the two grand hotels. With the advent of the automobile, the trolley went away in 1919.
The roads were dirt and horse-drawn carriages were the norm back in 1903. Imagine when electric trolley service began. Guests could catch the streetcar at the steps of West Baden Springs Hotel and go all the way (a whole mile) into downtown French Lick.
The trolley was a raging success, and in 1916 it set a record for carrying 250,000 people in a single year. At a nickel a ride, that’s over $300,000 in revenue in today’s world. Not bad for what was billed as the “world’s shortest trolley line.”
The advent of the automobile put the brakes on the trolley service in 1919. That is until Alan Barnett and the folks at the Indiana Railway Museum resurrected the idea in 1987. They were able to find Trolley Car #313 from Portugal, the closest thing they could find to the original 1903 car.
Craftsman Dan Ping took on the daunting task of restoring the old trolley car. The decay was extensive and the years had not been kind to #313. He saved as much of the original material as possible including the interior components and the undercarriage.
The end result is nothing short of a work of art.