Has Mandan’s Fort Lincoln Trolley Made It’s Last Whistlestop?
"Everything dies, baby that's a fact. Maybe, everything that dies, one day comes back." B. Springsteen.
It's a line out of the Bruce Springsteen song "Atlantic City" and from the very first time I heard the song, the lyric has always stuck with me. I'm sure I say it or think it every couple of weeks. Things can't be made to last forever, time conquers all. I just discovered yesterday, that time has indeed caught up to the Fort Lincoln Trolley. I arrived in Mandan in 2001 and assumed the Fort Lincoln Trolley had been there for y'know...forever.
Not so..it was the inspired creation of the Beck brothers and only opened up for business in 1991. By open for business, I mean a for-profit business venture built on the blood, sweat, and cracked knuckles of the Beck boys. I always assumed it was a State run operation as a trip back in time sideline of Fort Lincoln State Park. Seriously who in their right mind would personally renovate rail cars, maintain the tracks, and deal with all the liability involved in transporting young and old on a there-and-back ten mile train trek? Again, apparently the Beck brothers. From Heritage Rail News...
The trolley is a for-profit enterprise founded by brothers Jim and John Beck. They retrieved the body of former Grand Forks, North Dakota single truck streetcar #102 (American car 1911). The car had been sold to Bismarck, North Dakota, probably in the 1920s, where it ran until abandonment in 1931. Its body survived as a diner in Mandan until 1946. When the Becks found it in 1988, it was a dog kennel.
Well, yesterday Fort Lincoln State Park posted on their Facebook page that the Beck's time with the trolley was coming to an end...
“The Fort Lincoln Trolley has been a business that we have operated with pride since 1989, when we opened for the state centennial. It’s become harder to be able to continue being there daily as I get older,” said Jim Beck, owner-operator. “We will work with Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park to determine the best route forward later this year."
Fair enough, as I'm thinking Jim has to be in his 80s!
Have you ever rode the trolley? I did back in 2017 with my girl Brenda's dad Hank and her 100 year old grandma Betty.
Betty was a trooper and it was a hoot of a trip. I for the life of me could not figure out where they were gonna turn the trolley around at the State Park! Was there a roundabout? One of them big wheelhouses?
No silly, you just flip the seats to face the other direction and back home ya go! It was pretty charming.
Just maybe everything that dies someday comes back?
But it would take some pretty darn dedicated souls. Thanks for the memories!