Linkville Trolley Co. of Klamath Falls, Oregon
Owned and Operated by Basin transit Service
FIRST, A SHORT HISTORY:
After the excitement of the Modoc Indian War of 1872,
Klamath Falls lapsed back into its commonplace existence
as a town of hardy pioneers dependent upon the stock
raisers of the area for its existence. Around 1900 the Klamath
Canal Company made enlarged efforts at irrigation for farming
and the area began to blossom. Transportation in the area
was still very basic. The two main routes in or out of the
community were tortuous at best. Once could go by stage or
boat to Keno, by stage from there to Pokegama where they
could meet the rail line. Or one could go by steamer to Laird’s
Landing on the south end of Lower Klamath Lake and made railroad
connections near there.
The Klamath Canal Company purchased the Buena Vista
Addition lying north in the California Avenue area now and
up along Front Street. The Klamath Development Company purchased what
is now the Hot Springs area. Both companies promoted their properties.
In 1906 the Klamath Development Company applied for authority
to operate a trolley car from downtown to their property in the Hot Springs area. The Klamath Canal Company
countered by also asking for a franchise to operate a trolley car. Both companies were granted permission.
Using second hand rails salvaged from an abandoned logging railroad in the Pokegama area, that fall the
tracks were laid and in April of 1907 the first trolley operated in special service from the corner of Main
Street and Conger Avenue to the upper lake under the operating company of the Klamath Land and
Transportation Company. The first public service was on July 11, 1907 and souvenir tickets were sold for
$1.50 to inaugurate the event. The trolleys were horse drawn and although plans were made to electrify
the system and to operate gasoline engine powered cars nothing was ever accomplished to those ends.
The Klamath Development Company, having lost the race to lay rails, instead pushed the paving of roads in
the Hot Springs area and promoted its development vigorously and in 1911 crowned their triumph with the
construction of the White Pelican Hotel. The little horse trolley was hard pressed for customers and
bedeviled by bad weather and muddy streets. Finally on May 9, 1911 work started to tear up the trolley
rails and the City moved to pave the streets. After only four short and controversial years the original
trolley era had come to an inglorious end.
The Middle Years
Most of the residents of Klamath Falls are familiar with a
little red trolley that used to run up and down Main Street
of Klamath Falls, clanging its bell in friendly greetings. This
trolley is a replica of a 1878 Sutter Street Trolley from San
Francisco and it came about as a result of the creative
efforts of local citizens Ellis Wilson and Neil Drew from the
Downtown Merchants Association. Their enthusiasm brought
to life an idea that everyone hoped would bring interest to
the downtown corridor.
The original intention for the trolley was for static display and
an occasional parade. It was never expected to be used for
public transportation. However, to meet the needs of the
downtown area and become the center of interest everyone hoped for,
the trolley had to be restored to an operating condition. Kids from
Klamath Lake Employment Training Institute and many other localvolunteers, under the supervision Klamath County
Museum Director Harry Drew, finally completed the job in 1980. Even with a lot of volunteer help, the
restoration bill was about $32,000. The trolley made its grand public debut in the Fourth of July Parade in
1980 and in June 1981, the trolley was ready for the street and the “historical tour”.
Through public and private donations the County Museum continued to operate the trolley for the next ten
years, running between three downtown museums and stopping along Main Street upon request. During
off times it was rented to the community for special events at $35.00 an hour. Ridership for the season
would range from 500 boardings, ballooning up to as much as 800 during an extra popular season. Interest
in the trolley has always been high and it has always been a favorite sight in Klamath Falls. Unfortunately,
in 1982, the Downtown Merchants Association determined the concerns regarding the soaring maintenance
costs, vehicle safety, and the lack of accessibility for persons with disabilities were causes for the vehicle to
be retired and they withdrew their support. Funding since then has been an “iffy” and difficult proposition.
Today and Tomorrow
Welcome aboard the New Linkville Trolley of Klamath Falls.
What you see around you today is what we believe to be
the finest rubber-tired trolley bus in the world today. No
effort has been spared to make this vehicle unique in trying
to capture the feeling of a turn-of-the-century trolley. Even
the name, American Heritage Streetcars, speaks to the fond
memories of a time gone by. Other trolley buses have pine
or maple trim that is stained to look like mahogany. This
trolley has authentic Philippine mahogany throughout, just like
the decks of the finest sailing ships. Notice the extensive use
of spiral brass rails. Other trolleys use plain brass tubes. The
seat side panels are customized with the initials of our service,
LTC, Linkville Trolley Company. From the leather hand straps to
the period-looking lights, every attention to detail has been
made in this handcrafted, custom built trolley just for Klamath Falls.
All that’s missing are the barbershop quartets, men in straw hats,
and ladies with parasols.
Despite the beauty and handcrafted workmanship, underneath beats the heart of a modern dynamo. Powered
by a Cummins diesel and moved by an automatic transmission, this trolley will go up the steepest hills and easily
travel at highway speeds. The best in air conditioning and heating systems assure you year round comfort. Best
of all, this trolley is fully accessible to persons with disabilities when the front step turns magically into an
on-board elevator. We even have an AM/FM cassette radio with intercom capabilities. Transportation was never
this wonderful 100 years ago! Sit back and enjoy your ride in the new Linkville Trolley!
The Linkville Trolley is being brought to you through the cooperative efforts of the City of Klamath Falls and
Basin Transit Service Transportation District (BTS), and Senator Mark Hatfield.
For more information regarding the Linkville Trolley Co. please contact Basin Transit Service at 541-883-2877.
July 11 to September 2
NO TROLLEY SERVICE FOR 2017 DUE TO A LACK OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT.
Service is provided TUESDAY through SATURDAY starting at the Klamath County Museum, 1451 Main Street.
Depart Return to
11:10 AM 11:40 AM
11:50 PM 12:20 PM
12:30 PM 1:00 PM
1:10 PM 1:40 PM
1:50 PM 2:20 PM
COST TO RIDE
All rides are $ 1.00 for a round trip ride. There are no discounts. Persons may "flag" the trolley down
anywhere along the trolley route, get off for a visit along the way, and get back on later to complete
their trip at no extra cost.
This service is provided to the community thanks to the continued generous support of
the City of Klamath Falls, and Basin Transit Service.
SPECIAL TROLLEY SERVICE REQUESTS
In addition to regular public service, the trolley is available for special events and community services.
You may download a copy of the request form from this site in the "Downloadables" page.