A Small Taste of Americana
In anticipation of Memorial Day, Old Independence Regional Museum will have a small exhibit directly inside the front door in the atrium. This exhibit will display examples of Americana and tributes to our community.
One of these examples includes a framed prototype of a block of postage stamps executed in 1983 commemorating street cars. This block contains four distinct streetcar moments in time.
- New York City, 1832: Debut of the first American streetcar. With a fare of 12 cents, this horse-drawn streetcar rode on metal wheels situated on a metal track.
- Sulphur Rock, 1926: Provided by the Hill-Fontaine Cotton Company of St. Louis, the first streetcar in Sulphur Rock ran on either side of the highway. The existing trolley in Batesville ended its run near the turn of the 20th century; the trolley car was subsequently donated to Sulphur Rock to replace the original trolley. Sam Tuggle was a long-time stockholder in the line, acting as an operator, then passing the reins (literally) to John “Skipper John” Huddleston and his large, white mule, Dick. The model of horsecar donated by Batesville was called a “bobtail”, and Dick pulled the bobtail for 16 years, carting people from Huddleston’s Hotel on Main Street in Sulphur Rock to the surrounding area. In 1926 the Department of Transportation announced it would build a road from Batesville to Newark that would pass through Sulphur Rock. Sam Tuggle was not pleased the road would impinge on his right-of-way – the trolley ran on either side of the proposed road – and balked at the idea. Vigilante townspeople in Sulphur Rock realized the DOT was seriously considering re-routing traffic around Sulphur Rock and took matters in their own hands, tearing out several sections of the trolley line. Mr. Tuggle realized he was beat and removed the remaining lines. Sulphur Rock still commemorates its trolley with its annual Trolley Car Days.
- Montgomery, 1886: The first electric streetcar system, the Capital City Street Railway, begins operations. The line ran for exactly 50 years with a grand ceremony retiring the beloved streetcars in favor of buses in 1936.
- New Orleans, 1923: The St. Charles streetcar of New Orleans is still in operation, shuttling visitors and locals to many well-known destinations around the city. This distinction makes it the oldest operating streetcar in the world.