#TBT: Traveling by trolley


WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Around the turn of the century, parking at Wrightsville Beach was much less of a concern because folks could ride the trolley from Wilmington to the beach.

The Wilmington Street Railway was electrified in 1892. 10 years later the company merged with the Wilmington Sea-Coast Railway, creating a steam line between the city and Wrightsville Beach. Shortly it was also electrified.  W.R. ‘Tuck’ Savage, who had operated Wilmington’s first car, piloted the last one to the terminal on April 18, 1939. Trolley service on the beach itself lasted about another year.

A 1987 reminiscence by artist Claude Howell stated that “I loved the trolley cars which carried people to downtown Wilmington and also in the summer to Wrightsville Beach.  They were painted a bright mustard yellow and made a clanking noise as they rolled down the tracks.  The main depot was at Front and Princess Streets where the Wilmington Cigar Store was located which became a beehive of activity just before the cars would leave and they invariably left on time. The city trolleys were not so long and had double wooden seats facing each other but the beach trolleys were very long and had comfortable padded woven cane seats.  Nothing was more pleasant on a hot summer night than taking a ride to the beach and back on the trolley.”

** Special thanks to Jan Davidson and the Cape Fear Museum. **

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