The Rangely Trolley by Ken Bailey

THE "RANGELY TROLLEY". Here is a close-up of the "Rangely Trolley." A number of these former early versions of mass transportation were purchased from a distant city in the boom days -- shed of their motors, wheels, and interiors -- and moved to Rangely to serve as temporary housing. To my knowledge, this was the only survivior by the time Oil Geek came on the scene, although other Rangely "old hands" claim to know of one or two others serving as vacation cottages or similar that may have survived into the 1970's. This was a "horse drive-in" at this time, filled with hay for a quick snack, if I remember correctly (yes, I went inside to look, but that was almost fifty years ago by now)! from January, 1972.

Here comes Old Winney, or Dobbin, or Silver -- out getting a little exercise as her trainers give old Oil Geek a friendly wave. What kind of crazy kid would be out with his camera on this cold day in January, they wonder... Winney, however, is thinking of pulling to the right where the driveway barely visible goes to the famous "Rangely Trolley," the horse drive-in restaurant to the stars! (Ironically, a decade or two before this photo sequence was taken, it was not uncommon in larger cities to find old trolley cars, interurban electric railway cars, and even retired passenger train cars mounted on city streets and converted into Diners for people!)

THE RANGELY TROLLEY

Here's the famous trolley car itself. At one time, it was zipping along city streets, its electric motored wheels taking power from an overhead wire via a "trolley pole" extending from the roof. The motorman (name for a trolley car "engineer") sat at one end, and rang a bell DING DING DING to warn away motorists chugging along in their new-fangled motorcars, cutting in and out and trying to hog the road with the mass-transportation!

At the end of the line, he would walk through the car, pushing the backs of the seats across their bottoms to the other side ... and take up his position at an identical set of controls at the other end of the car. Off it went, in reverse, back to its origin place -- tracks buried in the street carried such wooden cars around the city, while larger versions called "Interurbans" shot along light-railed train tracks at speeds up to a hundred miles an hour (although usually much slower) between cities.

As motorcars became mass-produced in ever larger numbers -- and thus cheaper, within reach of more and more Americans -- Trolley Cars and Interurbans fell out of fashion. Tracks were torn up, and buses replaced the old wooden cars, which were cut up, burned up, or were repurposed - perhaps sold off to far-away oilfield boomtowns to serve as temporary housing for roughnecks who came in the years before "real" houses could be built for them, as this one and a dozen others were when they came to Rangely in the Forties.

A number of these former early versions of mass transportation were purchased from a distant city in the boom days -- shed of their motors, wheels, and interiors -- and moved to Rangely to serve as temporary housing. To my knowledge, this was the only survivior by the time Oil Geek came on the scene, although other Rangely "old hands" claim to know of one or two others serving as vacation cottages or similar that may have survived into the 1970's. This was a "horse drive-in" at this time, filled with hay for a quick snack, if I remember correctly (yes, I went inside to look, but that was almost fifty years ago by now)!

The ironic thing for this "horsey drive-in restaurant" is that, in the decades following the Second World War, it was not uncommon for retired trolley cars, interurbans, or even full-size passenger train coaches to be relocated to city streets, taken off their wheels, and converted to diners wth a lunch counter, booths, and a small kitchen therein -- where city people could catch a quick bite to eat!

Eventually, the old trolley cars became repurposed again ... as this one, filled with hay, serving as a horse feeding station just outside Rangley, Colorado, in 1972 (Ken Bailey photo).