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Trolley Car Items

Date: 1889-1910


Description: This small collection of items are all displayed inside a replica trolley car we have on display here at the museum. The oldest object of these three is the iron pulley (bottom), now heavily rusted, that was once used in the operation of the cable car in Sioux City in the late 1880s. Cable cars are unique from electric streetcars (also called trolleys) in that, instead of an electric wire overhead, the car is physically pulled by a cable underground attached to a pulley like this one. The pulley turns via a steam powered engine at a special steam plant, and it runs continuously. The cable car makes stops by a gripman on board squeezing a special clamp, and then moves again when the clamp is released. Sioux City had one cable car line that ran from Downtown north to the farthest reaches of the Northside in the 1880s. The other two objects date to around 1910. On the left is a misleadingly-named transfer cutter, a special machine that punched or “cut” special designations on a streetcar ticket for transfers. If you had to switch cars and did not want to pay an extra fare, this machine would punch your ticket letting the operator know your intent to transfer cars. The other object is a fare box, used for collecting the fee necessary for utilizing the streetcar. Passengers could pay in coins but the Sioux City streetcars also used tokens, which were purchased ahead of time and then traded for tickets. This fare box could have been used to collect these tokens as well. Both electric and cable streetcars were in use in the city until 1948, when they began to be replaced by more efficient buses, which needed no tracks, cables, or electric wires.


Donors: Sioux City Transit and Urban Renewal Departments


On display

Staff Pick

Connie Macfarlane, Education Coordinator
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