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Rockford Park District Trolley Car 36 6/16/2012

by Chris Guenzler

Dave Smetko and I pulled into the parking lot at Rockford and I heard "Chris!" It was my good rare mileage and NRHS members Diane and Bob from Michigan who were already aboard Rockford Trolley Car 36 built in 1982.

The Rockford Park District operates a gas-powered open-bench trolley car, 36, over about 1.7 miles of railroad track that runs along the Rock River northward from a station just north of Jefferson Street in downtown Rockford. This is an excursion-type service that normally runs Wednesday through Sunday during the summer months. Passengers ride from the trolley station in Riverview Park, ride along Madison Street beside the scenic Rock River Recreation Path, stop for a brief visit to the Eclipse Lagoon and Gardens, travel to the Symbol, then turn around and return to the Trolley Station.

Trolley Car 36 is wheelchair accessible; however, it is limited to two wheelchairs per ride. It is Rockford's only rail-based trolley and the bench-style seating can accommodate up to 32 passengers per ride.

The tracks are one of the remnants of the old KD Line that once ran from Rockford to Kenosha, Wisconsin, but was mostly abandoned in May 1939. Short sections of active track remain in Rockford, Harvard and Kenosha. The Rockford section is now a spur that ends in Loves Park, Illinois.

The trolley would give us our ride today. I went inside the station and bought Dave and I tickets to ride. Our trip would be on a Union Pacific industrial lead north along the Rock River. We boarded and caught up with our friends as the trolley departed at 2:00 PM.

The gate behind us must always be closed so that trolley operations can take place. It runs on propane for fuel thus no overhead wires are needed to operate. We departed the boarding area.

We ran by the trolley's car barn.

Rolling north down Madison Street.

Two views looking out the front of the car.

Soon we came to the end of our Madison Street running.

A tourist boat was out on the Rock River.

A view from the rear of our car.

Another view of the Rock River.

View behind us.

The Rock River.

A stoic quartet of golems known as the Rockmen Guardians who have acted as silent sentinels of the City of Rockford since the late 1980s. Created by Milwaukee artist Terese Agnew in 1987, the four stone figures cut proud silhouettes in their secluded spot in Sinnissippi Park. The 12-foot tall guardians are made up completely of boulders, each weighing hundreds of pounds, and held together with cement. They each hold a different superheroic pose with the obvious leader holding his hand on a rocky sword, ready for battle.

That boat on the Rock River.

Another view behind.

Three views of the Rock River from our street car.

We passed the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens.

The view behind us.

Views of the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens.

Two views behind us.

We passed these two modern sculptures as we neared the end of our run north. We stopped and the crew flipped the seats before returning to Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens for a twenty minute stop.

Three views of Rockford Trolley Car 36 during our stop there.

There was plenty of action out on the Rock River. We started heading back.

The ducks were out in the shade along the Rock River.

Our conductor stopped the traffic at the end of our street-running along Madison Street after which we returned to the boarding area.

Passenger exiting Rockford Trolley Car 36.

Rockford Trolley Car 36.

The next group of passenger start to board and Dave and I headed to our last train trip of the day, just south of Freeport.