GREAT FALLS — For three decades a symbol of Great Falls’ past has given tourists and residents alike a unique view of the Electric City. The Great Falls Trolley has hit some speedbumps lately though, in the form of mechanical issues, that’s keeping it parked.
Aaron Kueffler purchased the Great Falls Trolley in 2018 from the Downtown Great Falls Association. It’s been through a few owners, including “Carol the Trolley Lady” since it was originally brought to Great Falls. Owning the trolley is a side job for Kueffler, who works as an administration assistant at the Great Falls Public Library.
“I love the history of it and that’s what prompted me to buy it,” Kueffler explained.
The design of the trolley is a replica of an 1800’s streetcar, put on a 1980’s Chevy engine, according to Kueffler.
Nowadays, the trolley is used to shuttle people around the Electric City for historic tours, class reunions, weddings, field trips, luminaria tours during the holiday season and more. It’s even been used as a pace car and intermission entertainment at the Electric City Speedway.
During a charter trip in June the transmission went out, putting the brakes on future trolley trips. " One of the things I was forced to do was to refund all the charters because I knew the trolley wouldn't be running for the month of July and that really depleted the little savings I had built up for the trolley,” Kueffler explained.
Friends encouraged him to start a "Go Fund Me" account and put the word out about it on social media. "Within 15 minutes the first donation and the second donations came in, then an anonymous donor filled up the required amount we were looking for to get the transmission replaced. Whoever that anonymous donor is thank you. We couldn't have done it without you,” Kueffler said.
Since the last time the transmission was worked on in 2017 the trolley has traveled more than 8,000 miles and carried more than 3,000 passengers.
Even though his initial fundraising goal of $3,000 was met, there are still a lot of needed repairs and renovations. Kueffler said the radiator has a leak (that has been welded to get through the year), some windows are damaged and the interior needs revamping.
Kueffler any money that comes in through the Go-Fund-Me will be used solely to keep the trolley maintained and running.
"I think it's an important part of our community I think for both tourists coming in and for locals to go around and learn about the city they're living in and grew up in,” expressed Kueffler.
A fun fact about the trolley, it has a nickname! The trolley’s main driver, Joe, is a huge Dodger’s fan, so the blue and white trolley is affectionately known as “Brooklyn.”
Kueffler hopes to have the trolley up and running again by August 1st. When it is repaired and running again, historic tours are scheduled for Saturday mornings at 10:30 and Sunday mornings at 11. Tickets can be purchased online.
If you would like to donate, click here.
For more information about the trolley, visit GoTrolleyGo.com.
(From January 2021) Exploring Great Falls - The Great Falls Trolley: