GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls Trolley is back in service. It had been in the shop for much of the summer for transmission work, but officially hit the streets again last weekend.
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,” explained Aaron Kueffler, the owner of the trolley.
Kueffler created a GoFundMe account, and thanks to numerous modest donations and an anonymous $2,900 donation, the work was able to happen.
"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.
"Words can't describe (how it feels to be back.) What the anonymous donor (did,) that was very emotional. Then, just to be finally told it's good to go, if you have any problems let us know. We've been running for about two weeks now and it's been golden,” Kueffler said.
Kueffler bought the 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 in the mid-1990s. Its life began at a small Washington college where it was used to shuttle students around the campus. As time went by the college ended up buying a bus fleet, which in turn put the trolley out of commission.
Owning the trolley is a side job for Kueffler, who works at the Great Falls Public Library.
The trolley is used to shuttle people around Great Falls for 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.
For more information about the trolley, visit GoTrolleyGo.com.
January 2021: The Great Falls Historic Trolley