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Horse-Drawn Trolley Serves Klamath Falls


Before Klamath Falls had paved streets, the city offered a railway franchise to the first of two companies to lay the track for a horse-drawn trolley along Main Street. The Klamath Land and Transportation Company won the contract, using secondhand rail from an abandoned logging railroad.

Passenger service began on July 4, 1907, with souvenir tickets priced at $1.50.  The tracks soon reached a northern terminus near the Upper Klamath Lake docks.

By 1911, frequent derailments caused by bad weather and muddy streets plagued the trolley.  The company’s new president, Evan R. Reames, planned to replace horses with electrical or gasoline propulsion, but his application for a franchise to electrify the system was turned down for lack of an adequate supply of electricity.

Rail service stopped on May 9, 1911, when the city began removing rails and paving downtown streets to make way for the forerunners of today’s ubiquitous automobiles.

Starting in 1981, the County Museum operated a self-propelled, rubber-tired little red trolley between museums for 10 years.

Nowadays, the Linkville Trolley Service offers summer historical tours between July 9 and Aug. 31 on a rubber-tired, diesel-powered replica of a turn-of-the-century trolley.

Sources: Thompson, Richard. "Klamath Falls Streetcar System." The Oregon Encyclopedia.. Portland State University and Oregon Historical Society, 2014. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.

http://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/klamath_falls streetcar_system; "The Trolley." Basin Transit System. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. .

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.